For many motorcycle riders, the ride is therapy. Whether it’s been a long day at work, personal issues or family drama, the world can seem like a better or at least more tolerable place after doing some miles in the saddle or on the pegs. For many military veterans and first responders, seat time on a motorcycle can also help heal the invisible wounds of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
A non-profit in Colorado called the Motorcycle Relief Project has taken that idea to heart and has organized “Relief Ride” adventure bike outings that include a mix of road and ADV riding, with rides in Arizona taking place during the winter months. The rides are open to military members active or otherwise, as well as first responders. Participants do not need to be Colorado residents.
According to a video posted on the organization’s website, the rides last for five days and include both on and off-road riding on adventure bikes, typically BMW GS machines. The trips include pro coaching on riding techniques for those perhaps not familiar with ADV riding, and there are also road portions through scenic areas of Colorado or Arizona.
In the evening, after riding for the day, riders have dinner together and then attend meetings and recovery workshops, and work together on their issues with support staff – and each other. In an MRP video, founder and MRP President Tom Larson says the goal is to get the riders into a place where they can “decompress, get unstuck and connect with other people who’ve been through similar shit and learn tools for dealing with that.”
According to a story on the North Springs edition of The Colorado Springs Gazette website, past participants say the program has an “extraordinary success rate.” Larson says that’s because the vibe at the ride is non-judgemental and welcoming, with a focus on “trying to get back to the person we used to be and know we still are inside.” He said the programs are anonymous and “no fixing is allowed, there’s no judging.” Riders can “relax and not pretend they have all their shit together,” Larson said.
The testimonial videos on the MRP YouTube channel are many and powerful. In a recently posted video, Marine Warrant Officer Kelly E. lays it out straight, saying his experience at MRP “saved me. I can’t put it any other way.”
Suicides among military veterans take place at 1.5 times the rate of non-veterans, according to multiple sources. PTSD robs many veterans of a better life that they truly deserve after serving their country. It’s good to see the healing power of motorcycle riding helping those who served and are now suffering. Check out the links below to donate to MRP, including things like bikes and other needed equipment.
Donate to support the MRP program here, or scroll to the bottom of the page for more ways to help.
If you are a military veteran and you are feeling suicidal, get help here or call 844-317-1136