THE reason to ride has never been more personal for musician and motorcycle enthusiast Ray Vanderby.
After 20 years of drug and alcohol abuse he ended up homeless, depressed and was beginning to think of suicide.
He says his story is not dissimilar to that of Australian rocker Angry Anderson who also battled depression for most of his life and is now the Black Dog Ride ambassador.
The Black Dog Ride on March 23 is a nationwide event to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention.
As president of Orange’s Suntrippers Motorcycle Club Ray will be among the riders taking part.
“As a professional musician I shared the stage with Angry playing keyboards in the top rock bands touring the country in the 1970s,” Mr Vanderby said.
“I didn’t realise it at the time when I was drinking and taking drugs that I was really escaping from the way I felt and reality.”
“If it wasn’t for the help of certain people I will call angels in the rehabilitation clinics in Sydney, I wouldn’t be here today"
In 1974, Mr Vanderby played with Steve Wright and Blackfeather, who performed alongside Buffalo, and Rose Tattoo with lead singer Angry Anderson at Sydney’s legendary Hordern Pavilion.
Mr Vanderby said he knows only too well the negative forces “when you are in that black hole of depression” from his days of alcoholism and drug addiction when he was in his 20s and 30s.
“If it wasn’t for the help of certain people I will call angels in the rehabilitation clinics in Sydney, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.
“As a child and young teenager I started out okay with a happy family life but I always felt different inside, uneasy, a bit like a square peg in a round hole.
“I started drinking heavily and taking drugs to escape my feelings and reality which caused me to loose everything I had worked for.”
Homeless on the streets of Sydney, Mr Vanderby said he was saved by the Sydney City Mission.
He said when things seemed impossible and his thoughts turned to suicide “a counsellor would point me in the right direction and I could finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“They said I needed to keep an open mind and have a willingness to change and I have never looked back since then, that was 26 years ago,” he said.
These days things are different and he now “loves his life” and wants to raise awareness for people who are suffering like he did.
Suntrippers Motorcycle Club has invited interested motorcyclists to take part in the ride with them on Sunday, March 23.
They will meet opposite Orange Fire Station at 8am for the ride to Bathurst as part of the official Black Dog Ride.
The ride will leave Bathurst at 10am for a trip to Cowra and finish up in Forbes.
For information follow the Suntrippers Motorcycle Club on Facebook www.facebook.com/suntrippersmc or to register to ride visit www.blackdogride.com.au.