When Bobo Göransson started as a technician at the Sheraton Stockholm Hotel in 2014, motorbikes – specifically Harley-Davidsons – quickly became a recurring topic of conversation with his boss Roland Watkinson, Head of Engineering (Göransson rides a bagger; Watkinson a chopper). ‘We started talking about motorcycles and when I mentioned Route 66 in the States, Roland said he had done a biking holiday there,’ recalls Göransson, who is deaf. ‘One day, he approached me and asked “how many deaf people do you know who have motorcycles?”.’ Although seemingly a strange question (the answer was roughly 40), Watkinson’s idea was to gather a group together and organise the ultimate biking road trip: 2,300 miles across California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada over 11 days.
Head of Engineering at Sheraton Stockholm Roland Watkinson and technician Bobo Göransson became friends at work, bonding over a shared love of motorbikes.
"The trip was one of those golden moments in life. If you have an experience, it’s great; if you share it with friends, it’s twice as good."
Five others from Göransson’s network of deaf biker friends formed the final group. ‘I always say that Bobo was like human resources,’ jokes Watkinson. ‘He found the people and everyone came round to my house for a beer and a chat. You could feel straight away, as you often do with Harley-Davidson enthusiasts, that there’s a kinship, so even though we all only met once or twice before we went, it was like we’d known each other forever.’ After almost a year of planning, they all set off last August. ‘My favourite place was Zion National Park in Utah: the desert and the mountains were like nothing I’ve ever seen,’ enthuses Göransson, who is already planning a return visit with Watkinson in 2021.
Each day settled into a routine: begin with a good breakfast, then ride until late afternoon. ‘Most of the hotels were off the beaten track in tiny towns but in LA, Las Vegas and Thousand Oaks when we stayed at Marriott Hotels, we would arrive all dusty, get a beer and go to the Jacuzzi to talk about everything we’d just seen,’ says Watkinson. ‘The trip was one of those golden moments in life. If you have an experience, it’s great; if you share it with friends, it’s twice as good.’
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