It’s not hard to convince people that there is something legendary about hitting the road on a pair of wheels. The lure of the landscape, the thrill of soaring across turf and tarmac as the engine purrs might be timeless cliches, but they resonate true in the heart of every biker. While the winter months provide some valuable down time for bikers who are eagerly awaiting the first melt,[i] the coming spring can mean something even more for those who are just getting back into the seat for the first time in a long time. Revving that ol’ engine is more than just an invocation to spring, but a symbolic start to a new life.
The Open Road
It’s easy to draw a metaphor between life and biking: the roads we travel, the obstacles we navigate, the stops and milestones which form an integral part of our journey are a core part of both and let’s not forget how many times we’re encouraged to pick ourselves up and get back on the ride again. Yet this metaphor is one which directly intertwines biking and living; biking is a lifestyle and culture all unto its own, after all which is why it can become a crucial turning point for people who need to change or realign their personal direction. For people who have overcome difficult challenges in life whether it is countering addiction and substance abuse,[ii] mental or physical illness biking can be one of the best ways to get a head start on the long road to recovery (as well as manage its twists and turns, of course). Endeavors like the Ride for Recovery are one of the major milestones for many recovering addicts as well as families of those affected and where everyone is welcome to participate.[iii] As one of the most compassionate communities whose outreach ventures have changed the lives of people from across the globe, the biking family is an ideal one for banding together to show collective support.
Good for Mind, Body, and Soul
Biking may be a personal journey but it’s also a psychological one. As one of the most enjoyable pastimes it involves some hugely beneficial attributes which benefit health and wellbeing, and is encouraged by many medical experts as a coping strategy for dealing with stress.[iv] Studies have shown that motorcycle riding stimulates brain function due to engaging directly with problem solving faculties of the brain, improving mental outlook, getting vitamin E, and spending time outdoors where nature is concerned, ecotherapy is an essential component of wellbeing for everyone.[v] For recovering addicts, bike therapy is an effective way to draw on all these attributes but most importantly, it’s a pastime which can become a healthy passion for a number of reasons. It gets people back into the community by connecting with those who share an affinity for a timeless passion, it leads to the discovery of new destinations, and it restores a sense of fulfillment which is simply unparalleled. For many people who struggle with their inner demons, this can be a lifeline.
Community at Heart
Biking is, after all, about more than the art of taking on the road itself. It is about the people who are not only there to take in the good times but support those they care about through the rough rides as well. It’s a community which is open, welcoming, and supportive. For families and relationships, biking can repair the bond which has been severed through the trauma of addiction; the story of Roger and his daughter who journeyed together on their motorcycles when she emerged from recovery is one such story where a pair of wheels can have a dramatically positive impact on someone’s life.[vi] For other communities, biking has become a mission with a religious resonance, like the Riders of God a Christian motorcycle gang comprised of a variety of people from all walks of life who have struggled with their own set of challenges.[vii]
Hitting the road is a dream which we aspire to because of the sheer poetry of beautiful bikes, exciting people, and endless travel. But for others, it’s about returning to that inner peace which has so often eluded us in our darkest days. Happy riding.
This is a freelance article from Gemma Barson.