Lifestyle: Interview

What is mindfulness?

Richie Norton on escapism and inner calm

Through events such as the Distinguished Gentlemans Ride, the motorcycling community has a history of coming together to tackle mental health. Richie Norton, founder of wellness company The Strength Temple, explains how you can use motorcycles as an escape.

The Strength Temple is a Bristol-based company that champion healthy living and mindfulness. Richie set up the business after being inspired to help others after overcoming an injury that ended his rugby career. Sharing his general ideas of mindfulness and his approach, Richie also talks about how motorcycles can be part of clearing your head.

How did you get into motorcycles?

I’ve always been a bit of an adventurer and have always liked to put myself out of my comfort zone. My dad used to work on oil rigs as a geologist, so we used to go on a lot of travels, camping and hiking. I worked on farms as a kid and on those farms I’d ride motorbikes. My granddad had a few Triumphs and I was probably about nine when I first rode a bike – I’ve loved them ever since.

“I did BMXing before getting a bike myself some time later but when I started playing rugby, I wasn’t allowed to do anything deemed dangerous by the club. Then I moved to Sydney and met all the Deus guys. They all seemed to have Triumphs and surfboard racks. It was cool.

What is mindfulness?

It’s these practices that help you get out of a routine or habit. Everyday life becomes very repetitive, so sometimes you need to break out. The act of going into something unknown and being present in the moment helps the mind to focus, so anything that makes you concentrate on what’s right in front of you is something I believe to be very positive. Do the things you love. If you want to ride your bike then ride it.

How I exercise mindfulness is to write in my journal, walk up a mountain, ride bikes or go snowboarding. It’s about being alone with your thoughts.

Why practice it?

So many of us are caught up in the future or dwelling on the past. We love to overanalyse. Often we’ll be worrying about things out of our control. Part of the reason I do what I do is because depression and anxiety is so prevalent in our society today, especially among the guys. For the men, suicide is a bigger killer than heart disease. The act of mindfulness and escapism help those thoughts take a break.

How do motorcycles fit in?

The pure focus on the road and being with nature is why riding a motorcycle comes into this practice. You’re more observant and immersed in your surroundings when you’re on the bike – because you have to be.

You can’t take your eye off the road or be distracted. For me, that’s a mindful practice. It’s a type of meditation. Being free and being in control and exploring, it helps your mind get to a good place. What motorcycles do is allow you to step out of your normal world, whether it be on your own or with others.

Find out more about Richie and The Strength Temple and read about what happened when Richie recently took a Tiger 800 off-road with fellow rider Ethan Roach. Share your #MotorcycleEscape on Instagram and tag @officialtriumph.