Previously I wrote about how the medicinal benefits of riding a motorcycle can be divided into four main categories and focused on the first: increased brain activity and how to maintain it while battling P.M.S. or Parked Motorcycle Syndrome. The second category listed is the improved mental health of a motorcyclist.
Having been in the motorcycle industry professionally for about 16 years and a rider for closer to 31 I’ve only ever once heard the sensation of riding successfully explained. And you may be surprised that it had nothing to do with why a dog sticks it’s head out of a moving car’s window!
It comes from one of my all-time favorite books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance authored by Robert M. Pirsig. To paraphrase he suggests that driving your car is much like watching TV in that everything is framed and you’re quite successfully protected from the elements. On your bike you’re in and at the mercy of those same elements creating a sensory explosion! Even subtle changes in the wind, sun and temperature will have an immediate effect on riders! These elemental changes and your natural ability to detect them affect positively your overall all mental health.
The focus that it takes to successfully and safely ride a motorcycle takes away from the focus from everyday life. Your brain functions very consciously at a high level as you make decisions both reactively and proactively to your surroundings and ever-changing conditions. An entirely different part of your brain is unconsciously taking care of the baser motor skills; coordination, balance, breathing… This combination of mental focus and a complete saturation into nature increases the brains overall health.
So that brings us back to dealing with Parked Motorcycle Syndrome. In an effort to get at least a similar degree of mental focus I suggest some time outside. Personally I’ll go for a hike. Hiking places me at the mercy of the elements of nature and the level of difficulty of the hike forces me to focus on my surroundings and ever-changing conditions. We’re all different of course but that’s what works for me.
Two down and two to go in our exploration of P.M.S. As always please feel free to leave your thoughts, comments or questions below, or share your story. Thanks for reading!