Natasha Rake of Smithville is founder of the Ride for NorthCare Hospice. This year’s fifth annual ride starts and ends at Stables in Kearney, with stops in Plattsburg, Weston and Smithville and live music at the end of the ride. Registration begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. Find more information at the event’s Facebook page. All proceeds benefit patients who can’t afford hospice care or don’t have insurance; NorthCare is a nonprofit organization. Rake is a massage therapist who treats many hospice patients. This conversation took place at Cooley Park in the Northland.
When did you get hooked on motorcycles?
Before I could even drive. Our neighbor had a shovelhead motorcycle — that’s an old-school really choppy motorcycle — and he used to take me for rides and I fell in love with it.
And I fell in love with the community. People think bikers are scary, but bikers are the first ones to step up and help with all kinds of charities and donate their time and their money.
You told me you prefer riding on the back of a motorcycle to driving one. Why?
I drive around (in a car) all day long for my job, so I find it more relaxing to be on the back and just enjoy the scenery and smells and the peace and not have to worry about the traffic.
We call it wind therapy. You can see things when you are in a car, but you see so much more on a motorcycle. And you tend to do it with people you love so it’s just a great time.
What are your favorite places to ride?
Back roads that are hilly and curvy.
Do you own a bike?
No. But it’s my dream to own an older Indian, like this one (in the photo) that belongs to my friend.
How did you get involved with hospice care?
When I was in massage school, I volunteered with hospice patients and I loved it.
What did you love about it?
Helping elderly people who don’t normally get basic human touch. It is a comfort emotionally and helps reduce pain. It’s really rewarding.
What have you learned about dying from working with hospice patients?
It’s different for everyone. In a hospice environment, some people are sitting up and talking and you wouldn’t know they were so close to death. Others are very calm and peaceful. Sometimes people seem to be talking to people who aren’t in the room.
Isn’t it sad to be around dying people every day?
People always ask me that. It is very sad. But the time before it is sad can be very happy and enlightening. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. You build these relationships with the patients and hear amazing stories. It’s a strong bond. It’s a joyous thing to be able to help someone at the end of their life.