Blog: Social enlightenment

Steve Rose
By Steve Rose

BikeSocial Publisher. Has been riding since before Frankie said ‘Relax’, owned more than 100 bikes and has written for, edited or published most of the UK’s best known bike magazines. Strangely attracted to riding high miles in all weathers, finds track days ‘confusing’ and describes the secret to better riding as ‘being invincible’. 

BikeSocial Publisher Steve Rose gives his opinion

There was a story on the radio the other day about people getting injured while checking social media on their phones. Apparently, getting hit by cars, walking into lampposts, tripping over animals, walls and even police cars are now common reasons why people end up in A&E. On one occasion, someone even fell into a canal.  So, I listened to the item, shook my head in time with the nation, spent ten minutes sealing collar and winter cuffs before heading out into the rain on my 165mph motorcycle.

Two hundred years ago, our forefathers had proper things to worry about. Like making it to puberty without sucking in the contents of a chimney. And if they did that, making it to 20 without falling in a steam-powered loom, catching a million since-cured diseases or being sent to defend an empire. I’m pretty sure that when the great plague and the blitz were decimating London, no one was too bothered about breaking a nail while updating their snapchat.

As a contented, evolved species we have invented a million new things to worry about. It’s part of our make-up to fret and be miserable. Moaning about a problem is much, much easier than solving it. Think about all those wise-asses on the telly and comedians in your local boozer whose sarcastic, cynical monologues pour scorn on everything around them.

To these people – a society scared of texting near water – the idea of riding something as unfeasibly dangerous as a 125cc scooter is enough to make their head explode. Weird then that by flipping that fear around, they could change their lives forever.

BikeSocial did just that the other week, taking a load of people on a pillion ride who’d never ridden before and then chaperoning some newbies who’d just done their CBT for their first independent road ride. They loved it. All of them. And everyone wanted more.

Because once you’ve experienced that surge of bikey freedom, you realise that there’s almost no risk at all. And, more than that, it’s fun. How many regular riders do you know that are miserable and cynical about life? I’d love to know what percentage of people suffering depression ride a motorcycle every day, because I’m guessing it’s almost none.

Riding a motorcycle changes your sense of risk and responsibility, and the heightened senses and peripheral vision it develops mean you’re far less likely to end up with soggy trousers and a waterlogged WhatsApp.

Plus, the unspoken, invisible bond formed with the eight other riders I passed this morning, is stronger and more meaningful than any number of social media likes.

This year I returned to daft-distance commuting on a saggy old motorcycle worth less than my phone and I haven’t looked back. If only I could work the handset without falling over, I could have told you all about it sooner.   

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