The short answer: to die. In the air as riders at least, not on the ground.
I note your two possible ideas are inherently positive. Unfortunately, your view of possible reasons is, well, pollyanna-ish (I mean absolutely no personal disrespect when I say that). The world is far more complex, and far more murky than that for most people; and while I believe in hope and redemption, I can’t ignore what I see around me every day. Until very recently, historically, most people died in pain from infection, disease, starvation, murder, etc. Far too many still do, and not just in developing countries but in the west as well.
So the idea of fond memories can be one reason to take such a ride, but not everyone has them. Some people have just had existance, or duty. Some people have lived their lives in thrall to authority of some form or another, or have suffered abuse and degradation most of their lives, and come to believe they deserve it. Some aren’t strong enough to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and smile at the world. Sometimes, the only choice they feel they have is how, and when, to die.
I meet these people every day. It’s not completely pointless, but it is about choice and finding power where it can be found.
Having said all that, it’s only a small part of the image for me, part of the background of how I think; mostly I liked the idea and the original sketch, and just felt like painting it
So, if you put your confusion aside, look at the face: have I captured the emotion I described in my last post?