Riding with a Cause

I found this piece in my local paper last fall:

Here is the story of a couple whose marriage was torn asunder by tragedy and resurrected by their joint love of motorcycles and desire to honor the memory of their son.

“Julian and Betsy Harwood, of Manchester, will get on the bike again on Saturday and ride in memory of their son, Talon, who died after suffering an asthma attack seven years ago. The Harwoods hope more than 100 other riders will join them on the third annual Talon Harwood Memorial Ride, which is raising money for LifeFlight of Maine. This year, the ride will take on even more meaning.

“Because we’re getting married this year there may be quite a showing,” Julian Harwood said.

The couple divorced in 2009, three years after Talon’s death and just a few months shy of their 20th anniversary. The strain of dealing with their son’s death was a big part of the reason the couple decided to split up, Julian said.

Their marriage ended on paper, but the couple’s relationship never really did. The Harwoods, a former Hallowell police officer and a nurse, continued to spend time together, much of which was spent on Julian’s motorcycle.

“We rode the first 5,000 miles without saying a word to each other,” he said. “It was kind of our church. That’s how we got back together.”

He bought the bike, which a fellow police officer rode in the procession at Talon’s funeral, a couple years after his son’s death.

“I’d never ridden a motorcycle before,” Harwood said.
On Saturday, the two will say their vows at Pemaquid Point. They will promise each other they will keep riding together, no matter how scary or tragic the trip gets.

The two began to reconnect on their rides and they were introduced to communities, like the Defenders Motorcycle Club, who helped lift them out of the grief they continued to carry with them.

“The whole community helped us get back together,” Harwood said. “The pain will never go away. You just find a better way to deal with it.””



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