Motorcycles Saved My Life: Stories from the Ledge

Motorcycles Saved My Life: Stories from the Ledge

Seriously. Motorcycles saved my life.

Looking back through the darkest moments of adulthood – moments of loss, hopelessness, fear, loneliness… the motorcycle, in one way or another was there to help me find my way to the light.

And, in the cases where it wasn’t the motorcycle that helped me directly, it was the people I’ve met as a result of riding motorcycles.

My Motorcycle, My Healing Machine

motorcycles saved my life blog post - puddle photo that looks like space

In 2013, my dad shuffled off his mortal coil and returned to stardust. It was the first time I experienced such a tremendous loss.

Growing up, this kooky guy shaped my mind as a stay-at-home dad in my youngest years. I don’t think anyone that knew him would argue with me when I say my dad was a total weirdo. He taught me things that I could never have learned from my mom. I’ll always be grateful for that experience.

As he deteriorated over the last decade of his life, the man I knew growing up wasn’t there anymore. But ridiculous stories and memories of how he followed his whims stayed in my heart.

Though his passing was not unexpected, when it finally happened there was a strange feeling of being rudderless. One of the constants in my life was gone. Nothing prepares you for that type of finality.

Following the death of my pop, riding my motorcycle was one way that I could feel normal. It forced me to stay in the moment, to see life as it was happening. I couldn’t deny or ignore the enjoyable sensations I was experiencing.

I was able to ride through some of my grief.

My Motorcycle, My Therapist

my motorcycles saved my life blog post photo - foggy triumph bonneville on the blue ridge parkway

In the autumn of 2018, my grasp on sanity was tenuous. During the summer months of that year, my existence was rocked by a psychotic episode. The event thrusted me into swirl of confusion, fear, pain, and despair.

When your only goal is making it through the next hour without losing your mind, life seems futile and hopeless.

During that crazy summer, I was something of a shut-in. But after a few months of pills, endless hours of tv, crying, and therapy – motorcycle-related activities enticed me to start voluntarily leaving the house again.

I didn’t know how to live. But, I knew how to ride a motorcycle. And that was something good.

During that volatile period, it was the common thread of motorcycling that pushed me to connect; to try to rediscover myself. And as a result of those connections, I wholeheartedly credit the people who propped me up without asking too many questions and didn’t try to fix me, with saving my life.

Each of the people who ran quietly behind me until I didn’t need training wheels anymore were motorcycle people.

My Motorcycle, My Lifesaver

Motorcycles saved my life by being my lifeline to the outside world. When the devil on my shoulder told me that I should withdraw from life, my motorcycle was the angel that gave me wings.

10 Replies to “Motorcycles Saved My Life: Stories from the Ledge”

  1. I’ve been without my motorcycle since the last week of June. Well I should say I had it but I couldn’t ride it. It was broken. Four weeks ago I brought it to the shop to get fixed. They still have it, I don’t know if it’s done, they won’t take my calls. I’m going nuts. I need wind therapy badly. I feel…………. empty, sad, frustrated and I’m driving people crazy. I know that once I have it back, I’ll be golden. Until then……..

      1. Dear Rachael,
        I was moved by your story, your father sounds like the kind of father I never had, mine’s still alive (83) we get along but there’s never been a connection between us. I was very saddened to read of the times you have been through and am glad your heart still beats to the thrum of your motorcycle’s engine. I genuinely say the world would be a lesser place without you in it.
        The irony to me of the motorcycle is that I lost my eldest son at the age of 28 due to a motorcycle accident he had on a bend, just him alone on a lonely road in the middle of the night. That was 3 years ago, the one thing that alleviated and still does alleviate the terrible emptiness of loss is riding my motorcycle, no pills, no intimacy, no amount of sympathy, though appreciated brings the simple uplift a motorcycle journey produces in me. Quite honestly I’ve always had melancholy as a pillion passenger in my life so bikes have always been cathartic, though I never expected the very thing that caused so much anguish would also become a balm, I stared at my bike in the days following his passing not knowing what to think, then my youngest child also a boy 20 at the time came round to my home on his motorcycle and insisted we go out for a ride, that day ended with him getting a speeding ticket and a long string of calls from every female member of the family that evening berating me! Anyway not only do we still ride but I’ve started tinkering with the spanners (wrenches) in a very serious way which has added another dimension of happiness to the motorcycle saga.
        Yours sincerely
        Creamy Trumpet

        1. Haydn-

          I’ve been sitting with your comment for a little while now. When it comes to trying to respond to the loss of a child, I find myself not knowing how to be. Not knowing how to react in a way that pays respect to your power to be able to keep moving forward. Everything I string together sounds trite. Just know that I wish peace for you and your family. {hug}

          If you loved the bike before this tragedy, I’m honestly not surprised that you found your way back to it afterward. From my point of view, they aren’t just motorcycles or machines that serve a utility purpose. When you fall in love with them, they become an extension of you. A way to travel inside of yourself and be in the moment. They open a door that nothing else holds the key for.

          Keep fighting the good fight, my friend,

          1. Hi Rachael,
            Sorry I’ve been so long replying, car troubles have dominated recently!
            Your words aren’t trite, if you hadn’t answered I know enough about you to know you’re a lovely person, so words weren’t needed if you couldn’t have found them You also keep fighting the good fight and keep writing the good write!
            Looking forward to the next installment.
            Haydn

  2. I am blessed never to have suffered as you have.

    Riding is absolutely confidence building. The fact that very many people see it as an unthinkable life-threatening risk, means that riding takes courage, determination, and the integrity to stand out and be different, and to own that difference, every time you settle into the saddle and fire up the bike.

    And doing that, time after time, after time, builds character and self-assurance.

    I am so pleased that the therapy is working for you.

  3. I’m glad our shared passion served as a lifeline. I understand perfectly how that can be. It saved me during dark periods, too. My sympathies on the loss of your father.

  4. It’s the focus on the task of riding that provides us with an escape. The everyday worries and pressures are cast to the wind and replaced with the concentration on the mechanics of riding and the instant joys, such as picking the perfect line through a sweeper. Smiling and laughing inside a full-face helmet seems foolish, but it’s so sweet.
    Thanks for putting this out there.

  5. I cannot comprehend what you went through last year, I don’t think many can. I will say it was great to see you at the Void last October and it’s great to see your posting and riding again.

    Take care of yourself and try to remember there is an entire community of people who you can reach out to. We are family as well.

  6. I can empathise and identify with you on many levels. I remember my own father defending into dementia and finally departing this world back in the late 90’s. Life was dark, very dark. Then I rediscovered motorcycling and with the love of an amazing lady by my side the light came on again.
    Both the lady and the motorcycles are still with me…and life is good!

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