Calling Riding Motorcycles “Wind Therapy” and Needless Guilt for Enjoying Ourselves

Each time I read or hear people refer to riding a motorcycle as “wind therapy” I roll my eyes. Sure, somewhat for the unforgivable corniness (and I’ve got plenty of dad jokes), but it’s more than that.

The thing I find irritating is that we have to brand something as “therapy” in order to legitimize enjoying it. We’re so caught up in both branding and preposterous guilt for enjoying the moments of our lives spent not working that we have justify the simple act of riding a motorcycle as “therapy.” It reminds me of the idea of food as medicine. Sure, some foods have a healing component, but are we really so far from simply enjoying a dish for its own sake that we have to call it medicine to legitimize its existence on our plates?

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Pretty sunrise earlier this week. I’m not going to call it a therapy rise.

I think having so much close technological access to working all the time plays into this. The moments when we’re not on our devices doing some sort of work, when our eyes are watching the curving road, hands busy throttling and braking, feet shifting and leaning, we’re too otherwise absorbed to possibly be working. And for this respite from work, to be in our own heads with our own thoughts, to be providing no financial benefit to anyone (except to the gas and tire and motorcycle companies…) we have to explain away our own enjoyment as “wind therapy.”

In the Midwest, two things we do a lot of is working and apologizing. Beginning a sentence with, “Oh, I’m sorry…” is commonplace. Our culture teaches us to be life-long martyrs for our work and therefore we must apologize for the moments when we’re not working. Calling it therapy is half apology and half hail mary claim that it’s necessary for our health. Nearly every act a person engages in that is enjoyable and not somehow detrimental is therapeutic. We don’t need to brand having a life outside of work as therapy. 

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I enjoy pretty mountain bike trails and don’t need to justify it. Neither should you.

I enjoy skimming the surface in a canoe, ice skating in lieu of cross country ski snow, riding motorcycles and mountain bikes – plenty of activities. Being active is good for my body and brain and soul and I don’t think that makes me unique. I enjoy plenty of sitting still activities too, like writing and reading and sitting in my chair in the dark and thinking, sometimes with jazz on the record player. Bowhunting will always be sitting in the woods listening to birds and hoping to spot a deer. I enjoy those acts simply for being alive and capable enough to do them. Sure, sitting in the woods with your own thoughts can have a healing effect. But I’m not going to start calling the moments I’m simply enjoying my time being alive “therapy.” I just call that having my own life and not being at work all the time – for which none of us should need the justification of a brand or a hashtag or an apology.

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Thoughts on Getting Rad in Adulthood

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I imagine my recent “Get rad, blah blah blah…” might seem odd or immature or self-indulgent. Going out riding mountain bikes (for example) feels active and provides some sense of adventure while surrounded by nature. Each time I do it I inevitably accomplish some maneuver I didn’t entirely think I was capable of and it makes me feel more confident to consider pursuing acts I’m on the fence about. And sometimes I crash, or nearly crash, and that feels exciting too. So when I say “get rad” it’s my own little activity mantra that I’m having a fun little adventure. A few months ago I graduated college at 5’10” and about 230 pounds. I think weight can overall be like age and how you feel is more important than numbers, but for context I’ve been this height since I was 15 and throughout my 20s when healthy weighed ~165 or so. I haven’t felt very good for years; the numbers are for context. (This isn’t intended to make people compare their individual weight or body shape. All of our vessels are different, this is just a rumination of the body I’ve lived in for these 39 years) Sometimes it feels like the entire world of adulthood endeavors to muck us into a quagmire of inactivity. Sitting in class. Siting at work. Standing in lines. Computer, computer, computer. Sitting at soccer practice, at ballet class, at rowing. Parenting can turn us into professional lounging spectators if we don’t make a point to also be active too. And on top of it – being a writer – probably wins out somewhere in the “least calories burned” category of professions. Then add that oracle of data acquisition in our pockets, the goal of which is to make us slow down and input information so that we can be more effectively be sold more products related to the idea of what we say we’d like to be doing instead of actually doing it. We adults and parents must make a point to do things that make us feel good, otherwise those things won’t happen and our brains and bodies and souls suffer for it. We need to make time for, oh yes, to GET RAD! #ridebikes #getrad #adulting @salsacycles #writerlife #parenting

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Thinking about the All-Terrain Wheelchair at Work

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Went out to take photographs of my colleague using the all-terrain wheelchair at @riveredgenaturecenter today. A local media outlet is writing an article and invited pictures to go alongside. The forest was a humid mist of evaporating morning rain and this is my favorite shot of the bunch. I’m glad we have this vehicle to lend out to people to get outside. It’s strange growing up as one of two children with both of you having a 50% chance of developing Huntington’s Disease. Although you both have the same likelihood, a precisely identical genetic lottery, it always feels like one of you will get it and one won’t. For whatever reason, my brother got it and I didn’t. When people bring the chair back I usually take the long way around the building and through the prairie to return it inside. The wheelchair is slower than my walking pace, provides a landscape view more obstructed by flora, and I have to pay greater attention to avoid potential trail hazards. An excellent exercise in being very mildly inconvenienced – after all this is a tank of a wheelchair designed for trails. I’m always amazed at how impatient I feel when initially achieving its top speed. I don’t pretend this extra 10-minute excursion makes me some sort of empathy savant. But at least it’s a brief experience of what some people’s everyday is like. I invite you to hop in a wheelchair sometime, manual or powered, it’s a worthwhile experience. The last time I brought the tank chair around the long way I saw my first hummingbird of the year. Where it was located, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it at my standard pace and height.

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The Pinky Fiddy: The Milwaukee moped racing for more than a world record

Milwaukeean Andy Pickett is headed out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in pursuit of a motorcycle world land speed record. But this project is about more than just speed, it’s about honoring and fulfilling a plan between friends. Go here to read my full story for OnMilwaukee. Here he is pictured below during a shakedown run on the “Pinky Fiddy.”

Andy Pickett on the Pinky Fiddy
Andy Pickett on a shakedown run of the “Pinky Fiddy.” photo by Ed Makowski

Playing on Puns at Work

While editing this butterfly/milkweed picture a new version of this song started playing in my head. Writing music and nature puns for work ain’t half bad.

New outfit for the Bavarian Tractor (my vintage BMW motorcycle)

Now that I’ve graduated college, I have time for fun stuff, like accessorizing my motorcycle with colors. I found this tank on eBay and it’s blue and sparkles. Pretty great, I’m enjoying the splash of color over the standard black tank. Here is my 1976 BMW R75/6 in front of Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee. Swipe to see a close up of the tank.