Since my retirement from the USMC in 2013, I’ve found myself chasing hobbies and activities to not only occupy my mind and body, but to calm as well. A lot of these hobbies have been short lived, detrimental to a better quality of life, and/or outright dangerous. The majority of people I am surrounded by would say motorcycling is one of these dangerous activities, but I find it to be quite the opposite.
Simply put, riding is the most therapeutic activity I have ever experienced. I first discovered this in the summer of 2013 when I purchased my first street motorcycle. As with most new riders, I bought a motorcycle without the knowledge of the motorcycle’s basic functions or skills in fundamentals of riding. Add this to chasing an adrenaline high while riding a motorcycle that has way too much power for a beginner rider and you have a recipe for disaster. Probably for the best, my first street motorcycle was stolen only 4 months after purchasing.
I knew that this was a great thing I had found, riding, that is. Looking back now, I was not in the right place mentally to benefit from the therapeutic aspects of riding. Maybe out of some subconscious self-preservation, I decided to not invest in another motorcycle. Through the years I had considered purchasing another but I knew it would probably result in going down the same road, per se, as the first go around.
That changed once I linked up with Tim Schwab and in the summer of 2016, I purchased another street motorcycle. A few months later, I found myself at Virginia International Raceway attending a Cornerspeed rider’s school by recommendation of Tim and others that had attended the rider’s school. This was the gateway to finding the adrenaline fix that I have longed for over the years, that’s so easily attainable on a motorcycle, while being given the knowledge and tools to do so as safe as possible in as controllable of an environment as realistically possible.
As the weather turned cooler, I found myself riding less and less due to bad weather or it being a bit too cool to enjoy riding as much as I’d like. During this time, I felt like I had accumulated emotional frustrations and more depression through the basic aspects of life, but wasn’t able to release the mental strain or pressure through riding on the street. I had been hearing about Countersteer and when the first event would likely be and looked forward to it.
Going to the event I knew it would be a great time with lots of valuable knowledge being passed. Aaron and the rest of the staff’s reputation and experience precede them. I would usually find myself very nervous during events like this, but I knew a few of the other guys going and knew some of the staff from the Cornerspeed rider’s school I had attended, so I was very excited. Going through this mostly new experience of riding street techniques in the dirt was not only rewarding, knowledgeable, but also therapeutic. It helps greatly to be surrounded by other guys sharing the same interest and passion, but also knowing they have signed the same dotted line, walked the same lines in the sand, knowing that “They get it” makes all the difference. There’s an undeniable bond between most prior service members, and it makes for great company. Although physically stressful at times of riding in a low traction environment, it was mentally/emotionally rewarding to be able to take a breath and just relax while riding in “as safe as possible in as controllable of an environment as realistically possible.”
The year of 2016 has been one of the best for me in my progress in dealing with the issues and struggles I’ve found since my deployments and post service life. I now have the confidence that no matter how hard life has been or how taxing it can be mentally/emotionally, I know I can find relief in motorcycle riding. Whether you are an experienced rider or just have a flicker of interest, I strongly recommend to come give it a shot. At the least, you will find some weight lifted off your mind and walk away with some new tools for your toolbox in safe/responsible motorcycle riding. You may even just find a long term interest/hobby with the same therapeutic aspects that I have.