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No longer able to ride: what’s next?

Dear Lynda,

Because of my health, I was told that I can no longer ride a motorcycle. And while rationally, I do understand this isn’t the end of the world and I can find a different means of travel, I feel depressed – motorcycles meant freedom and adventure for me, and now because of physical limitations, I am no longer able to ride. How can I cope with this better?


Dear Leanne,

Transitioning away from two wheels on the advice of your healthcare team can definitely lead to a period of depression. Until you have once again figured out how to find that sense of adventure and freedom you fear you are losing, simply finding another means of travel won’t address what motorcycling has meant to you. The key to moving forward will be discovering how to capture the essence of your emotional attachment to riding but in a form that works for your current situation.

The period of adjustment from when your old reality ends and you haven’t yet found your new path is often the most difficult time. The uncertainty that you will once again find joy after losing an activity that brought so much pleasure is disruptive and unsettling. Let yourself grieve; honor the love affair you’ve had with riding. The good news is eventually you will emerge from the darkness and find a new direction. And while it may be different than before, it can be satisfying.

To help you on your way, start by expanding your definition of what motorcycling has brought to your life. Define adventure in detail. For example, is it meeting new friends, traveling to new places, facing new challenges, or finding solitude in the silence of your helmet on the open road, or a combination of all of the above? Look at your fondest memories, and what made them special?

Are you open to a new challenge? Rather than only seeing loss, are you willing to see opportunity alongside what you no longer can have? Play with brainstorming: what are some new ways of finding adventure that are now open to you given your health? Let the ideas free-flow without editing, and only evaluate your answers when your mind has exhausted all the possibilities. Can you switch to three wheels? Add a sidecar? Ride as pillion with a friend? Splurge on a sporty convertible? Find a group of like-minded former riders who still want to travel but no longer on two wheels?

Nothing will replace your beloved bike, but that’s not the point. The point is to keep moving forward, to keep looking where you want to be going instead of where you’ve been. You can certainly bring your grief along with you, but if you remain open to new possibilities you may find one day that you’ve discovered your new brand of fun, one that fits who you are today.


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