What if one terrible moment on a motorcycle took away almost everything that mattered to you? Would you ride again? Meet Omar Petralis, who’s lived through exactly that nightmare. His answer might amaze you… or it might not amaze you at all. Either way, Omar’s story is dramatic proof of the deep hold motorcycles have on the people who ride them, and of how resilient our passion can really be. A raw and difficult conversation about facing the specter that haunts us all, every time we ride. A warning that this interview includes some graphic and emotionally intense moments.
Given the nature of Omar’s story, the show notes for this episode are brief. When he returns from Newfoundland, I’ll see if he has some photos to share from the trip and, if he does, update this page. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, a very important erratum: I said a couple of times that the crash occurred on the Trans Labrador Highway. That is not the case. Although Omar, Linda and Chris had just ridden that road, the accident took place on Provincial Route 430. My sincere apologies for getting this important detail wrong.
Omar turned to his community soon after the crash, seeking support and understanding and, incredibly, offering them comfort. It leaves a powerful record of ‘the worst that could happen’ that’s infinitely more real and human than any news story could be. If you’re interested in following that intimate record, here are a few places to look:
This is a discussion thread on GTA Motorcycle that begins with Omar planning that 2017 trip, and then the sudden, tragic turn it took, in what somehow feels like real time. A useful reminder, maybe, of how suddenly fate can assert itself.
In the aftermath, another thread on the same site, eventually joined by Omar himself. One of many testaments his story makes to the power of our community.
And here is the ADVRider thread discussing Omar’s breakdown during his summer, 2021 pilgrimmage to the crash site. In our discussion, Omar promised a trip report, and ADVRider seems like a good place to watch for that. Be sure to check both the Canada page and the Trip Reports forum.
If you want to say hello, Omar’s social media handle is @oomis on GTAM, ADVRider and Instagram (probably also Facebook, which I’ll confirm).
Many, many thanks to the brilliant Fortunate Ones for being so supportive of including “The Bliss” in this episode. I sorely wish that I could have explained to them just how perfect it was, and that they would be standing in as ambassadors for Newfoundland’s generous spirit… emails, unfortunately, don’t lend themselves to long stories. Fortunate Ones are Catherine Allan and Andrew O’Brien (that’s them in the photo below), from St. John’s, Newfoundland. To my unschooled ear, they strike a fresh and wonderful balance between contemporary folk music and the deep roots of the amazing place they call home. They make me want to go back, and I’m thrilled to have their music in my library. You can learn more about them here, and you can either buy their music – as I did – or find out how to stream it by visiting this page.
As always, the theme music for this episode was arranged and performed by Harry Bartlett.
Don’t forget to check out my new store for TML merch… the link is at the top of this page. And finally, a nudge to scrounge up a few bucks from the couch cushions and make a contribution to the Movember Foundation in the name of this podcast… just click on the moustache below. Especially now, they could use all the help you can give them, and you’ll be letting me know how much you value this content. Thank you!