Anxiety and the Motorcyle experience
Goal : Skyline dr , the Blue Ridge Parkway , Foothills Parkway , Tail of the Dragon , Cherohala Skyway and general meandering .
Weapon : 2012 KLR , freshly maintained and shod with Kenda K761s , Twisted Throttle dryspec bag combo ( loved this system , simple to use , compact and waterproof)
Reason for ride : to prove to myself that PTSD , anxiety disorders and a little OCD stirred in can be overcome , to some extent
Pre-trip : planned for months , talked myself out of it a thousand times , posted in Inmates and recieved great advise and finally said " Fuck it ! Do or die right ?" The day before I left I suffered a major panic attack worrying about what the trip would hold ...not fun and ended up in bed for most of the day . Onward and upward
Day 1 :
After a morning at the VA hospital , I was faced with my biggest obstacle ..leaving . The bike was packed , first nights camping accommodations in Big Meadows campground had been made.... all I had to do was get there , easier said than done . After some hesitation and wrestling with the thoughts in my head ....I mounted up and took to the road .
The first problem arose rather quickly , my GPS I borrowed decided that it too wasn't too sure about going , and stopped working . Well...I knew how to get to Front Royal ( beginning of Skyline dr) , I headed down the road hoping the view through the face shield would help ease the worries .
The ride was going good , I settled in rather quickly and focused on the bike and what I was doing and not about how I was feeling about it . Stopped in Winchester , Va for gas when a guy walked up and started asking questions. Typical family guy chained down by the man ....:D
Resumed my way to Skyline dr , payed my 10 bucks to the Ranger at the gate and headed up the next 50 miles to the campground . Enjoying the ride , keeping an eye out for wildlife when in a blink of an eye....a large blackbear emerged from the tall weeds right on the edge of the road . A little evasive action and luck , I missed him by less than inches , so close I actually pushed off his ass with my boot . A few deep breaths ....
20 miles down the road I arrived at the campground ...so did the rain. A storm rolled in and it poured as I set up camp , poured all night and poured the next morning as I broke camp. A lonely night in the tent ....
Note : please forgive me for being rather involved in the ride , hence the lack of overabundance of pictures . http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/08/19/5ysybuqa.jpg
Day 2 :
Rain greets the morning ....
Packed up my tent and belongings in the pouring rain ( nothing like one day on the road and much of what you are carrying is soaking wet and muddy .
Went to the Big Meadows lodge to wait out the rain and fog , and check on what's happening back home on my phone and wish my mother a Happy Birthday .
During the wait I mulled over the thoughts of bailing , figuring I could just head home and be warm and comfy in a few hours . Beating down the voices in my head ...I got on the bike and headed into the fog .
It didn't take long before the skys cleared and it was just beautiful out and my head was clearing as well. It didn't take long before I was at the end of Skyline dr ( its only 105 miles long ) ...first leg of the ride done ...goal reached.
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Sounds like your gremlins should get to together with my gremlins! I have the same issues you mentioned. It's easy for other to say just do it not knowing what it's like. Good going taking the first step and powering though to your first goal. Keep it up. I leave tomorrow and hope be as successful. Maybe we can introduce our gremlins and we'll get lucky and they will run off together!
After getting gas in Waynesboro , I made my way up to the infamous BRP . And found construction almost immediately , so much so that there was actually no road , just thick gravel and you had to wait for a pilot vehicle. The pack of Harleys behind me looked non too amused ...
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My son struggles with anxiety. I dream of him someday overcoming his doubts, fears and blame and doing something like you are doing.
Just keep asking yourself, "what's the worst thing that can happen?" Run it all the way to its ultimate end. Even if you can push it all the way to, "I could die" (probably unlikely) then try to do it anyway. There are no guarantees or promises in life for anyone.
I have to believe that every time you give your anxiety the finger and push out that envelope with a successful experience, your world just got wider and brighter.
I have only had anxiety attacks for a short period in my life (right before my wife left me and my kids). The attacks went away through a period of counseling but they were definitely the worst/scariest times of my life. I feel for you and my son who live with these feelings everyday.
Keep riding. Keep resisting the voices of doubt and fear. Be smart, but tell your anxiety to f*ck-off. You've got a wonderful life to live. It's been waiting for you.
I don't know you, but I am PROUD of you!
Robert Persig has nuthin' on you!
I liked this: "Reason for ride : to prove to myself that PTSD , anxiety disorders and a little OCD stirred in can be overcome , to some extent."
Good stuff, brother.
Oops. ..hit the post button on accident .
Stopped at the Humpback Rocks visitors center to grab a map and a copy of Milepost , and was given a small chart of all the fuel stops along the way ...which I thought was cool .
Mosing along , enjoying the sites , stopped at random places to take in the view and have a small lunch
Made my way down passed rge Otter Creek campground ( closed ) to the Peaks of Otter campgound and found that the Ranger station was closed . I guess I could have set up and taken care of it in the morning , but rain was threatening so I went to the Lodge across the lake and got a room .
A shower and some dinner later ...I walked around the grounds a little , and spent the night drying out my gear in the bathroom :cool: preparing for the next day .
I would love to post pictures but nothing is working properly ...it's taken an hour or so to post what little I have .
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While I personally have no problem being fairly carefree and directionless, I also hear and understand what you mean about the anxiety. I firmly believe that the motorcycle is one of the best cures for that - period. You just have to get on and ride. Eventually you'll learn that just about any problem can be overcome.
Next Stop If you Get This Post In Time
A good stop over is the Skyline Village Inn at milepost 331. Get off the parkway, turn left and it is on your right hand side. Here is the link:
http://www.skylinevillageinn.com/ You will be one exit above Little Switzerland which as a few nice places to eat.
On your way north, give me a call and I'll buy you lunch. I live a few miles off the parkway outside of Waynesboro and ride a KLR-650 as well. If you want to take a little duel sport excursion over to West Virginia I can show you some great moderate trails that any noobie can handle and I can offer you a cabin over there if you need a stopover. I know the anxiety thing well as I have a son that deals with it. Enjoy the ride and clear your head. Nothing better than getting out on the road to release stress :clap
Enjoying the RR!
Keep it coming man, we are enjoying your story and your candor over what has been holding you back. We all feel some trepidation over long distance tours, but the experiences and the sights are worth the initial feeling of uncertainty.
Like the poster said above, what's the worst that could happen? Have to burn the bike on the side of the road for warmth and walk out? :lol3
Seriously though, keep fightin' them demons and thank you for your service. :freaky
Seems the forums hates me today , wrote for what seems like an hour and it didn't post.
Anyway.... the morning started out by packing the bike and trying to calm down , was exceptionally wound up and the cobwebs were rather thick . After choking down a cliff bar and a cigarette , I walked about the lake area trying to absorb the peacefulness the water and surrounding fauna had to offer . At about 8:30 I felt I needed to take off before I decided to do something stupid like bail . Julian Price campground was the goal for the day, so southbound I went .
The man that built the BRP rode a motorcycle , you can't convince me otherwise. Beautiful scenery , beautiful curvy roads ....and the gods were looking out for me because I was buzzing well north of the posted speed limit and rarely saw another vehicle...let alone a ranger . A stop at Meadows of Dan for gas and a little amusement at the sign advertising the special , possum pie , I set off to see what lie ahead .
I arrived at Julian Price campground. ..16 bucks for a site 15 ft from the water was worth it
My only complaint was the company for the evening ...a douchebag on a poorly tuned Harley that kept riding around the loop like everyone was impressed with his backfiring behemoth and this guy...
Who thought I enjoyed his romantic singing , which was performed within 15 ft of my tent all night long . My dinner consisted of oodles of noodle and spam cooked in my trusty Jetboil...delicious :rolleyes:
Morning arose ... bike packed ...after a cliff bar and half a canteen of water to wash it down , on I went .
I met a couple from Quebec riding north on two BMW GSAs , a group from Novia Scotia on metric cruisers heading south and at the pulloff for the highest point ....I met an Australian who purchased a Kawasaki Vulcan online in Wilmington, NC and was riding the country and Canada for the next few months. Sounded like a hell of an adventure .
Continuing south , my favorite overlook was the Devil's courthouse , a beautiful out cropping at 5700 ft above sea level .
(Wow....that worked !)
I must say ... the temperature ranges were amazing ..and the weather seemed to change every other mile . Wonderful ....
Started dropping elevation toward my ultimate goal ... the Southern end of the BRP . http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/08/20/uva6yras.jpg (artsy pic )
I wound my way down without stopping and finally , at approx. 16:30 , I pulled into the Oconaluftee vistors center outside of Cherokee . Much needed because I thought I was gonna pass out from the heat with cold weather gear on from being up so high. Stripping off the gear with an audience of elderly women from a church group. ..I had completed my original goal . 105 miles of Skyline dr and 496 miles of BRP... ( I skipped the boring detour north of Ashville because of a crack in the road )
After a little sightseeing at the visitor's center , I set off to Maggie Valley to find a room. Holiday hotel...nothing fancy , clean and very nice people , would recommend checking it out if you are in the area. Dropped my gear , headed down the road to a place called Legends and enjoyed a Joker Burger
Yes...thats peanut butter and it was damned good !
Spent the evening shooting the shit with the couple next door from Kentucky ( he was a Vietnam vet , Army ) and a younger guy in for the bike rally (which I am glad I was leaving in the morning ) who was a Blackhawk pilot just returning from Afghanistan . Good people....
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I'm enjoying the report.
When you're planning out your camp site destinations prior, are you looking in the area you want to stop then finding nearest campgrounds. Or is there some database/app/book you are using to figure it out?
Keep it up, I'll be following along.
Good for you man, it takes serious balls to do what you've done. Very happy for you. :clap
Well done, Wannabee! :clap
Looking forward to more.
Congrats on getting on the road! I went through a spell of severe anxiety disorder and panic attacks some years back, and I firmly believe that taking up riding was one of the best and cheapest "therapies" I've found. I think this trip will be of great benefit to you.
Keep up the good work:clap
The night in the Holiday hotel was no holiday :banghead:
Insomnia and reoccuring intrusive thoughts are an issue...and that evening was wrought with them . So the following morning , feeling like death warmed over , I packed and headed to my next goal .... the Foothills Parkway and the infamous I29... The Tail of the Dragon . After a hot breakfast and a stop for gas. ..things got a little wierd . I left the gas station and rode for a while and had this odd feeling , I didn't know where I was at and the foggy feeling in my head was scaring me so I pulled over to sort myself out and regain some composure . After shaking that off for a half hour , I headed out and back up onto the BRP for a scenic bypass of Cherokee , made a right onto rt19 at the end of the parkway and headed out to rt 441 past Cling man's dome , to rt 73 across to the town of Townsend across 321 and made a left on the Foothills Parkway
71 miles of nice scenery and another road well worth riding , and drops you off right at the north end of the Dragon . I stopped for a break...watched bike after bike ride by and another went by on the hook... a new Roadking smashed to bits . This actually made me nervous...was I gonna be that post in the Killboy thread on my ass cause I panicked at the thought of a camera pointed at me ? After a few minutes ...a jolt of caffiene and nicotine ... I mounted my mighty steed and headed off to meet my destiny .. to slay the mighty dragon . All went well ... the KLR is no sportbike or speed demon by any means. ..but I gave her hell for 11 miles , managing to scrape some footpegs and tested the grip of my Kendas . I hear people say the Dragon is overrated. ..I had a blast ... so much so I did it up and back again .
The Tree of shame ... everyone has to have a picture of it .
For all you Top Gear fans ....
I went into the store , thats mandatory I think , and was gonna buy a decal . When I asked for the red dragon with USMC die cut into it , the girl behind the counter handed it to me and thanked me for my service .... cool
Yes...its a Bilt helmet...I ride a KLR remember ?
I left the Dragon licking its wounds and headed to the next leg of my journey ....The Cherohala Skyway . 40 more miles of beauty ...and squirrel poles ?!?! Yes ... they have poles built on the skyway on the elevations above 4000 ft because of the endangered flying squirrels , seams they won't cross the road on the ground and the trees along the road are too far apart
Another beautiful ride ....great helmet therapy
I made my way to Tellico Plains , Tenn and my home for the night , Cherohala trails mountain resort
Mark is an inmate here ( don't know his screen name) nice cabins , quite and he is a very nice guy .
Dropped the gear and headed out for a little BBQ
Pulled pork ...yummmmmmm
Spent a quite night reflecting on what I had just accomplished...how I didn't let my issues beat me down as it has for 22 years . Has it cured me ? No... not in any way. Whatvit did do is prove to myself that if I push myself hard enough...I can overcome what can be a debilitating disorder . I know...for 22 years of my life I have had to live hidden away because of it ...because I didn't know what was wrong with me and didnt know where to turn . This trip has been very empowering to me , and hopefully can show others that stepping over your own boundaries can be liberating . Will the next trip be a piece of cake ? I doubt it ... but I know now that I am capable of stepping out of my comfort zone , that there is nothing to fear .
A nice nights sleep in a quite cabin ... early morning departure to make a 600 mile blast up highway 40 to hwy 81 with a stop near Roanoke and the final 300 miles on Sunday inbthe pouring rain .... quite and adventure I must say
1680 miles ... I was rained on for much of the time , cold at times , wondered on a daily basis what the hell I was doing . But I got to accomplish something that I will never forget , and my issues were not able to take any of that away from me . I did what I said I was gonna do , although some told me I shouldn't , including my doctors . http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/08/20/aje3aqez.jpg
One last pic...a kid gave me that while I was on a job once ... He has been on every bike I have owned . When shit gets hairy , I just poker his belly and things get better ....:sly:
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