COVID has wreaked havoc on our pale blue dot and the end of its influence on our daily lives seems, sadly, like it’s a long way off.
With the obvious exception of actually catching COVID, one of the worst aspects of this scourge is the lockdown. Aside from its myriad social effects, the fact that you are no longer free to ride your motorcycle to whatever destination you desire is the antithesis of the life we dream to live.
We adhere to the rules to be good citizens and present our efforts alongside the others working to find a way out of this shitshow, but it’s tough to have riding taken away even for a relatively short period of time.
You could take my car and it’d be a pain in the arse to find an alternative, but when even just the notion of leaving home on the bike is removed from the world I live in, then my world gets a whole lot smaller.
And there are mental health concerns here that can’t be disputed. Riding is therapy. It puts your brain in a state of single-purpose bliss and fires all the reward centres.
It offers physical exercise which has a huge effect on mental health and re-instates the sense of danger the average day completely lacks, thus making us feel alive in a way non-riders can’t comprehend.
And this isn’t just the opinion of this dull-witted, unqualified muppet with a website, (that’s me). John Kim, AKA the Angry Therapist, is a world-renowned therapist who was going through the aftermath that follows tough divorce when he wrote:
John Kim LMFT
“Then I got married and my wife was against motorcycles so I vowed to never get one.
Then I got divorced.
This photo below is of the day I brought home my very first motorcycle. I was in my mid thirties. It was a Ducati 650 Dark. I rode it all around LA, through canyons, Pacific Coast Highway, Ktown, to work, on weekends. I felt like Batman.
It was my call to adventure.
It was the first time I felt that feeling I had when I was a kid, connecting me to the spirit of that twelve year old with sandals and a shit eating grin.
I was going through the roughest time in my life. A rebirth and rebuilding. But when I was on this Ducati, my worries vanished. It snapped me right into the present. That’s the thing about motorcycles. It forces you to be present or you will die. So they become meditation machines.”
Sam Louie is a psychotherapist who wrote that:
“For many, it’s the freedom of the open road on two wheels that nothing else can match. The experience is sublime. It’s meditation with a machine. You take in what’s around you, using all your senses. You must concentrate all your energy on riding (no texting, eating, etc.) as each turn, intersection, and road requires your full dedication and attention.”Sam Louie MA, LMHC, S-PSB
The recently deceased, Neil Peart, mighty drummer and songwriter for the all-conquering band Rush found solace in adventure riding after the death in quick succession of his daughter and wife.
Peart wrote a book on how riding brought him back to life called, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, which I can recommend. More often than not he would from there on ride to gigs instead of flying with his bandmates.
It’s not a mystery that riding helps provide a boost to your mental health state. It is therapy and nobody that rides needs a study to confirm that, although I’m sure one or more exist. We know it and that’s why we keep riding. It’s the escape from the box of suburban life, the constant noise of city living or the quotidian rituals of the small country town.
It’s the exploration that expands your world, the freedom that confirms you are more than a cubicle robot and unfettered and uninterrupted access to your own thoughts so readily disrupted at home by the phone, television, computer or other humans wanting progress reports on projects they can then bump up the chain and get all the credit for.
Riding represents the simplest encapsulation of the term ‘living,’ with decisions that can end poorly if you get it wrong and amazing highs from getting it right.
It fires the lizard brain in us all and awakens neural pathways restrained so greatly now they react to the final episode of Survivor the way they should to a never-ending expanse of desert coming into view.
Lockdowns rob us of riding, but this situation won’t last forever. We ride because we have to. Because it’s infiltrated our DNA and become part of who we are. It’s a gift. As soon as the restrictions lift the wheels will turn again and a collective calm and peace of mind will befall those behind the bars.