Grief, Growth & Gratitude: My Journey to Finding Common Ground


Dive into the recollections of the filmmakers and bikers who made the 'Common Ground' film.

Reflecting on my experience with the Common Ground project, I have one particular feeling that resonates above all others: gratitude. I have come away from this project with a strengthened view of how powerful camaraderie is within motorcycle culture. There is a universal bond among riders, and with it, a code that lays a foundation to create everlasting ties with those we meet along our journeys. In my heart, I am truly thankful for how this entire experience has helped shape me; it sparked both personal and social growth, surprising me by going beyond my expectations. I have not “come away” from this project, but continue to carry it with me.

I admit that before embarking on this journey with Eduardo, I had no idea what to expect. We had never met, yet we were undertaking a week-long motorcycle adventure together through one of the most wild and unpredictable parts of Canada; and I was nervous. We could communicate for the entirety of our journey through Bluetooth headsets and, fortunately, we are both chatterboxes so we had a lot of time to talk about our lives and experiences as riders. Some of our activities along the way included tasting some delectable Canadian cuisine, hiking to a remote tea house, enduring many wildlife encounters (including nearly being rammed by big horn sheep that was blocking the road), and battling extreme weather conditions. I did not anticipate that Eduardo and I would find so much common ground between us. But now, after all our adventures together, I consider myself so very fortunate to have been able share the ups and downs with someone who has such an open heart. When the time came to say goodbye at the end of our journey together through the Canadian Rockies, it felt like I was saying farewell to a lifelong friend. And I was.

One week before I left to film Common Ground with Harley-Davidson Canada, my father suddenly passed away. I did not know how I was going to make it through a ride and project of this scale while trying to bear such heavy grief. But, I decided that I must move forward with the film schedule and put my best foot forward on “keeping it together”. Thankfully, I was surrounded by an incredible team and it quickly became evident that on a documentary film set, as in life, there are no scripts; I could be real and raw. Without Eduardo by my side to keep me laughing, smiling and constantly learning, I would not have made it through such an expedition during such a difficult part of life.

It is my hope that this film conveys the power of camaraderie that is so deeply rooted in the riding community. Riding motorcycles has changed my life; it is at once my pastime and my therapy. The thousands of kilometers I have spent behind the bars has enabled me to work through so many of life’s inevitable hardships and build many of my strongest friendships through common love of riding the open road on two wheels. If I have only learned one thing through my experience as a motorcyclist, it is the importance of supporting those who support you. The motorcycle community is host to strength and belonging, and we find our Common Ground around the hearth of the V-Twin.

- Johanna Poultney