Cortland resident Sheryl Robertson sat astride her Harley Davidson 883 Sportster last week and reminisced about her 6,700-mile cross-country road trip she took on it four years ago this Thursday.
There was the time a car narrowly missed her-she looked down and saw the fender just inches from her left hip- and a hail and rain storm that drenched Robertson and her friend for much of the first few days. Then there was the scorching heat of the deserts the pair went through on the journey that took them through 17 states.
"We wore bandanas over our mouths because the air we were breathing out was better than the air we would've been breathing in," she recalled of the blistering heat.
But what stands out most to Robertson about the experience wasn't so much the physical journey, and all the landmarks she saw along the way (the Grand Canyon, the Royal Gorge Bridge, Lake Tahoe, Nashville, Tn., and more) it was the internal path she took overcoming her fears.
This is what riding a motorcycle does, said Robertson- it makes you more aware of everything on the road and it challenges you to confront your fears. She recalls leaving Cortland on June 27 four years ago terrified of heights and the portion of the trip that would take her across the Golden Gate bridge into San Francisco.
However, during the course of the cross-country trip, she drove through the foothills of the Rockies, over elevations of 9,000-feet and had to carefully maneuver hair-raising switchback turns. With that preparation, Robertson was ready when the moment came to go over the Golden Gate bridge.
Her face breaks into a broad smile recalling the moment she passed two cars while she was driving over the bridge that had been her biggest fear a week earlier.
"I learned about overcoming your fears," she said.
She also feels pride at having accomplished something few can say they did- several young men looked at her in astonishment when she met them on her journey-something that makes her smile.
Robertson still loves to ride her motorcycle, when she can. Between four jobs it's hard to find the time, but she says the feeling you get on a motorcycle is like nothing else. She calls it "wind therapy."
"No matter what's bothering you, you get on that bike and just take a ride, and it's so relaxing," she said. "It's just you and the wind and nothing else."