Want to feel good and fight off the stresses and pressures of the modern world? The answer is parked in your garage or back yard, says psychologist Dr Neill Neill.
“I tell people they need downtime to relax, recuperate, recharge and expand their perspective. I say to pursue something they are passionate about, as long as it has nothing to do with work and lifts their spirits and leaves them feeling positive,” says the university lecturer and practicing psychologist of more than 45 years.
Based on Vancouver Island in Canada, the splendidly named doctor has learned that doing what you’re passionate about is the most important thing in life. And if that means riding, so be it.
“One of the ways I get that positive charge when I want to be completely off the work radar is going for a ride on my motorcycle. Solo riding is the best and the longer the ride, the better!”
After starting at the age of 14 with a 250cc BSA, Dr Neill progressed to a 1948 500cc Speed Twin Triumph among an array of other motorcycles.
He says: “The Triumph was definitely one of the coolest-looking bikes I’ve owned and that’s the other thing; it’s good for your self-esteem if you do what you enjoy and look good doing it too.”
Today, he works closely with clients in the fields of alcohol and drug rehabilitation, writes regular newspaper and magazine columns, and maintains his own Practical Psychology for Capable People website.
The rapture of the road
The joy of riding was kick started when he took his first long trip from his then Toronto base to the Atlantic, before heading south to Key West in Florida before crossing the southern states to New Orleans and San Antonio, Texas. “Before returning home, I’d also ridden through Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It was a 14,000-mile solo ride and an utterly transformative experience.”
People, shared experiences, smells… for me they all play a part in being part of the motorcycle and Triumph community and getting closer to the things that really matter, says the Triumph fan: “There is a rapture to the road, a street spirituality that makes motorcyclists feel more connected to their surroundings and, as a result, each other. You are immersed in your environment, not just looking out at it.
“Motorcyclists are romantic creatures who ride to feel more alive. Flying through the wind with a big engine under your ass is wild fun, and fun is a turn-on and it helps motorcyclists see life differently and more positively.”
At peace with the universe
Despite a gap when a change in circumstances meant he couldn’t ride, Dr Neill is now back in the saddle and says: “The thing about something that you’re passionate about is that it never goes away. It seems to get into your blood. Just when you think it’s gone, it resurfaces. That’s what motorcycling has been for me.
“One of the great things about a passionate interest is that when you indulge it, you feel more at peace with the universe and more alive. You spend most of your time in the present, without past trials or worries about the future. You see the world through rose-coloured glasses. You feel grounded and centred.”
Why do you ride? Share your stories or tell us in a few lines (mentioning your name and bike and ideally with a photo) at For the Ride