I’m into my fifth year of riding motorcycles and still believe that it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.
At the time that I started to learn, I knew no one else that rode bikes. I had no point of reference for it, other than what I could get through digital connections.
Through having a shared interest, I found I could connect with like-minded people and could follow people/brands on Insta that kept my passion burning even when I had no one around me to talk to.
I did my lessons and everything I learned I learned on my own – it became a really personal experience.
One of the things that I didn’t expect when I first got into riding bikes was the feeling of absolute freedom.
Being a man in this world with a family to care for is a tough gig and can be so all-consuming, to the point that it’s easy to push the idea of ‘self’ to one side while you focus on everyone else. Family is all-important so takes a huge amount of effort and commitment.
Riding motorbikes gave me back myself, through being able to access a kind of freedom I’d never before experienced. The reason for that is that riding motorbikes is bloody dangerous!
In order to lessen the chances of those dangers literally ruining your life, you have to commit to it with 100% of what you’ve got.
Let’s face it: other drivers are dickheads.
Because of that focus, your mind clears, and all the fears/stresses/anxieties/worries have to be pushed out of your head so you can make sure all of your senses and reflexes are focused on the thing you’re doing.
Those immediate conscious thoughts about practical riding fade into the background with time and experience.
You subconsciously count gears instead of saying them audibly in your helmet. Your feet go where they need to without thinking about placing them specifically.
You crawl in traffic without the ever-present fear of dropping the bike. You feel free.
This is the real kicker now for me. This feeling has become the addictive part of bike riding and is what keeps pulling me back into the saddle.
The goal of motorcycle riding for me now is to become un-synced with the rest of the world, to carve out my own little piece of the planet, even if just for a moment.
The place I’m physically and mentally happiest on my bike is when I discover that a piece of road has opened up just to me – like my own private strip of asphalt.
Ahead far enough from the cars behind to not be bothered by them, behind far enough from the cars ahead that I can ride at my own pace, not dictated to by the whims of traffic.
The easiest example to help explain what the hell I’m on about is this: if you cut through a queue of cars waiting at traffic lights, you then wait in front of them.
Car drivers are sitting there annoyed that you’ve blocked their hard-earned place at the head of the queue. But you, hearty bike warrior, you’re not even thinking about those cars, because you’re on a bike and you’re gone.
Away from the grumpy car drivers, away from the dictated pace of life, away to your own little bit of space and time. In a car this is a rarity so hard to obtain that as a driver you can’t afford to even let yourself think about it too much because it’ll crush your soul.
But on a bike, just learning how to play the un-sync game is reward enough to make you pull a helmet smile – let alone the payoff of finding that bit of private road multiple times throughout every journey.
For that alone it’s worth the price of admission!
That freedom blows the fears from your mind, to the point that when you get off the bike, you’re in a much more spiritually comfortable place: the things that were worrying you when you get on have gone.
Now I’m not saying that riding bikes is going to be a quick-fix for anyone’s mental health issues, but it has certainly helped me to find a clearer path when I’m waylaid with everyday life.
Riding bikes is a freedom machine.