‘It’s freedom:’ Veterans take motorcycles to open road

Nine veterans learned from instructors at BikeTown in Austintown

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Every motorcycle rider knows that feeling of freedom out on the open road.

It’s something the motorcycle experts at BikeTown in Austintown wanted to share with nine Wounded Warrior Project veterans from all over Ohio.

“I jumped on it immediately,” veteran Michael Elliot said. “It’s one of my bucket list things to get a motorcycle license and get a bike.”

Thursday and Friday were spent in the classroom. Saturday was their first day on the bikes.

“We started at 8 o’clock this morning,” said BikeTown Instructor Gary Wollet. “Out of the nine, four were brand new riders — never been on a motorcycle — and they are doing outstanding.”

Still, they’ve got a lot to learn.

“Clutch control, we’re gonna get into some swerves,” Wollet said. “This afternoon, we’re gonna get into some cornering — curves.”

Veteran Stephen Komorek said it’s fun to do something new with fellow veterans.

“We all have a great sense of camaraderie,” he said. “We laugh, we joke, we kid. It’s just like back being in the service again and that’s the one thing we miss.”

The coaches said they hope these vets take advantage of all the things motorcycle riding has to offer.

“It’s a great opportunity for these veterans to get in the wind and relieve some stress and enjoy this beautiful country of ours,” said instructor Scott Stenglein.

It seems like these vets are well on their way to doing just that.

“You’re able to not think about all those issues — all those things that plague us,” Komorek said. “It’s just enjoying the ride, feeling the road. And it’s relaxing, it’s harmonious — it’s therapy.

“It’s freedom.”