“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” ― Oprah Winfrey.
I’ve been dreaming about riding across the country on a motorcycle for some time now and I’m not going to let the fear of what could happen to hold me back. That’s what I’m telling myself as I start a cross-country solo motorcycle adventure on Monday, October 4th, 2021. Since I’ve started back riding motorcycles in the Bay Area with Melinda Briana Epler in 2018, I’ve developed this drive to ride cross-country. In 2019, Melinda and I completed a ten-day 2500 mile adventure loop from San Francisco through route 50 to the Canyonlands and Arches National Park in Utah, to Monument Valley, to Death Valley, passing through Yosemite National Park to back home. That was an epic life-changing adventure that only fueled my goal of going cross-country someday.
Fast forward to today, motorcycle riding in a pandemic world has become so necessary for my mental health. I love motorcycle riding. Being out in nature, exploring new roads, feeling free. Riding keeps me going!
Motorcycle Riding and Mental Health
In my last post, I wrote about how motorcycle riding is one of my passions. Riding is also therapy for me. There’s proven research that motorcycle riding is good for your mental health and your physical health. Riding can reduce stress and improve brain health/cognitive functions, stimulate happiness, and provide you with a sense of community. As a rider, we call it “throttle therapy.”
At the Icon Project (501c3), our mission addresses mental health and professional development needs for Black and Brown men in tech. To do this work, we’re focusing on two programs launching in 2022. One is a fellows program, and the second is a mutual aid fund that provides financial support for Black and Brown men to access mental health services through our partner networks.
Announcing the Icon Ride
I’m connecting my passion for motorcycle riding and the mission of the Icon Project together. The cross-country motorcycle adventure is called the Icon Ride, a cross-country and back solo motorcycle adventure to raise awareness for Mental Health. I’ll also be fundraising for the Icon Therapy mutual aid fund at https://iconride.org. Each donation helps and would mean a lot. You can support me directly here as well.
During the Icon Ride, I’ll share my experiences, my own mental health challenges, and photos and videos of the adventure. I’ll also meet up with fellow riders and colleagues in the mental health space.
What about? COVID, Riding While Black…
While sharing my plans for the cross-country motorcycle adventure, many questions have come up, such as ‘what about COVID’ and ‘the state of racial injustice in America?’ Riding could be dangerous.
To be honest, I’m nervous about the trip. I’m also dealing with Piriformis Syndrome. Piriformis Syndrome is a disorder in which the piriformis muscle in the buttocks irritates the sciatic nerve from sitting behind the computer too much, especially in 2020 and doing a lot of motorcycle riding. I’ve ridden over 50k miles since 2018.
I’m a little scared, too, which reminds me of this quote from the great Michelle Obama: “You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.” #FACTS.
For COVID, I’m vaccinated. I wear a mask everywhere and practice social distancing, still!
As for racial injustice in America, I’m a Black man on a black motorcycle. YOLO and no fear. But just in case, I have a GPS tracker and alarms on my bike. A Garmin satellite navigation that I’ll be wearing and I’m sharing my location 24/7 with Melinda and the world to follow. I’ll do my best to stay safe.
The route will be starting in San Francisco, to visit locations across the country I’ve never been before such as the Grand Canyon, Bonneville Salt Flats and from there take it one day at a time. The mid-way point is visiting my son and family in North Carolina for a few weeks. After that, I’ll start the adventure back to the West Coast.