The Art of Motorcycle Therapy
On his annual pilgrimage to the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, military veteran Dave Frey met up a with an Army Airborne Paratrooper from his fellow unit. While sharing stories, their conversation took a turn to a troubling statistic: 22 vets commit suicide each day. Though the individual stories are different, the struggles of traumatic brain injury, loss of limb, and reintegration into civilian life frame a common problematic reality in search of a solution.
Enter the idea of Motorcycle Therapy. “It’s all about getting the wind in your face,” said Frey, Founder of the Veteran’s Charity Ride. “It gives the space to clear one’s head, to experience life and living again.” No stranger to to the freeing power of the open road, Frey grew up in a mom and pop motorcycle shop and has been riding for more than 49 years. Extending this to his fellow vets came second nature, and in 2015 the inaugural Veteran’s Charity Ride was born. “We wanted to do something; we wanted to get these guys out of the house,” said Frey. “What’s better than riding a motorcycle on the beautiful back roads of the country to Sturgis?”
With eight wounded and amputee vets taking part in last year’s ride, the 2016 campaign will see 21 riders travel the 1,776 miles from Burbank, California to the Black Hills bike mecca. And as part of their journey, the riders will be joined by a convoy of the Indian Motorcycle Riders Group and other riders during the August First Friday Art Walk (August 5) when they roll into Denver.
The group of art lovers will head up Santa Fe Drive to the VFW Post 1, where visitors will have the opportunity to check out some of the one-of-a-kind models, such as the iconic seafoam green and beige 2015 Indian Chief vintage military scout bike and custom sidecar (nicknamed “Captain America” and “the Hulk,” respectively). A commemorative photo booth and sponsors including Indian Motorcycles and Liberty Sport will join the riders out front, where they look forward to meeting the surrounding creative community. “Every rider has an appreciation for art, beauty, and aesthetics,” said Frey. “Look at the the big post-World War II V-Twin engines and the returning soldiers who used them to fit back into society.”
It’s this intersection of art, culture, and mission that makes the Veteran’s Charity Ride a welcome guest to Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe. And though the thought of driving idyllic routes through a countryside forgotten by highways paints a beautiful picture, Frey realized the real benefit of Motorcycle Therapy is transcended by the trip itself. It’s the sense of community that benefits not only the lives of veteran riders, but also those they encounter in this Chautauqua of conversation. “That really does something—mentors and interesting people we all meet along the way allow people to feel safe connecting and sharing stories,” said Frey. “That’s where the magic happens.”
Story by Cory Phare