The Rolling Barrage recognizes that motorcycle riding is more than a hobby or a mode of transportation; it can be a powerful tool for promoting mental health and wellness. As riders join in this year’s The Rolling Barrage, don their helmets, and hit the open road, they embark on a journey that offers not only the joy of freedom and adventure but also a unique opportunity to positively impact their mental health.
There is with no doubt a connection between motorcycle riding and mental well-being. While there are mental health professionals that would debate the correlation between positive mental health outcomes and motorcycle riding, riders themselves endorse the mindset that “wind therapy” is both real and viable. Therefore, The Rolling Barrage exists because it provides a consecutive series of days riding, literally sessions whereby riders contribute collectively towards a healthier state of mind.
The Freedom of the Open Road
The Rolling Barrage and motorcycle riding provides a sense of freedom that can be incredibly liberating for one’s mental state. It breaks you away from the constraints of daily life. Riders experience a release from stress, anxiety, and other mental burdens as they immerse themselves in the present moment. The feeling of wind against your face and the ability to explore new landscapes can invigorate and rejuvenate. It is an opportunity to break away from the trappings of mobile phones and the “always connected” issues that such devices can bring.
Instead, you stop at a fuel stop with many other riders. The focus becomes fueling many riders and continuing your journey. Stopping at memorials or sightseeing locations also affords an opportunity to reflect on oneself and talk to others who are probably engaged in the same line of thought as you are. For some riders, especially during The Rolling Barrage, it can be a healing moment or the discovery you are truly not alone and surrounded by a brother and sisterhood you may have long been departed from.
Mindfulness and Focus
During The Rolling Barrage, riding a motorcycle comes with concentration and focus, requiring riders to be fully present in the moment. This heightened state of awareness can have a profound impact on mental well-being.
The motion of your motorcycle, the sound of the engine, and the need to expect and react to the road ahead can create a meditative-like experience. This state of mindfulness helps riders temporarily disconnect from their worries and anxieties, allowing them to find solace in the ride’s simplicity. While The Rolling Barrage has a “follow the leader” concept because of the bikes aligning by rank and file, every rider must situationally know where they are, where others are and where they are going.
Engaging in any form of physical activity can be beneficial for mental health, and motorcycle riding is no exception. The rush of adrenaline and the physical exertion involved in controlling a motorcycle can help ease stress and tension. The sheer joy and excitement that comes with riding can release endorphins, the body’s natural mood enhancers, promoting a sense of happiness and well-being.
It is quite common to see riders during The Rolling Barrage at stops getting off their motorcycles and then removing their helmets to see them smiling. You rarely see that as much with those that drive cars or trucks; the act of driving is more utility.
Social Connection and Support
Motorcycle riding is often a social activity, fostering connections with like-minded individuals who share a passion for the open road. The Rolling Barrage as it progresses from east to west across Canada is a mobile community that engages in social activities through the course of the coast-to-coast ride.
Large group rides such as The Rolling Barrage provide an opportunity to build a supportive community, where riders can share experiences, advice, and encouragement. The camaraderie, that reinforcing of brothers and sisters that once served their country in the military or communities as first responders is further reinforced by those that may not have served in such capacities but support.
The sense of belonging that arises from these connections are invaluable for one’s mental health, creating a network of support during challenging times.
During The Rolling Barrage, riding a motorcycle requires a certain level of bravery and resilience. Some riders have little to no experience riding in large groups. Overcoming challenges such as unpredictable weather, unfamiliar terrain, or roadways, and practicing defensive motorcycle riding skills can help riders build mental fortitude. The ability to confront and overcome these obstacles can translate into increased self-confidence and resilience.
While The Rolling Barrage was founded to bring awareness towards the stigmas associated with PTSD and other mental health challenges, the ride brings awareness internally to the participating riders.
Many riders over the years while participating in The Rolling Barrage realized they have experienced a difference, a change in themselves. Often upon returning to their respective homes, family and friends note that they have changed for the better.
This can then lead the rider to seek further professional help and resources to mitigate the challenges that PTSD and other mental health issues bring forward in one’s life.
The Rolling Barrage offers much more than just the thrill of the ride; it can be a powerful ally in maintaining your mental well-being. The combination of freedom, mindfulness, stress reduction, social connections, and resilience-building aspects of The Rolling Barrage all contribute to a positive impact on mental health.
However, it is essential to remember that while riding with The Rolling Barrage can be therapeutic; it is not a substitute for professional mental health care. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, seeking appropriate professional support is crucial.
Join us on The Rolling Barrage, or any other ride local to you and get on your motorcycle, embrace the wind in your face, and let the open road become a pathway to a healthier mind.