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Motorcycle Positives

Post Received 12 January 2022

By Ian Douglas

Stuff that lifts our spirits in these dour times is welcome. After the winter lull spring will be here, and we’ll be able to get out and about on our motorbikes again. After isolation, freedom is just the ticket even if a breakdown/puncture may result in the rescue driver not wanting you in the cab due to Covid.

It is self-evident that doing things that you find rewarding is good for your well-being. Moreover, if that activity has a sense of purpose, then all the better as we humans find a measure of achievement satisfying. You might even go so far as to say that doing stuff that you enjoy contributes to a sense of happiness and fulfilment.

If that something involves messing with chemicals, chains, oil, sharp tools, dust and fumes then perhaps this takes away from the above. Furthermore, if it also incorporates venturing out into a high-speed environment then the plus side is further reduced. What we are talking about here is a balance of enjoyment and danger.

Motorcycling is pleasurable but you must focus on the road. There is now evidence to suggest that the level of concentration required to ride a motorbike maintains cognitive function and helps you stay young by invigorating your brain. This claim was made by a Japanese scientific research team in collaboration with Yamaha.

Dr.Kawashima of Tokyo University lead experiments that showed that riding a motorcycle facilitates brain fitness. Two groups of middle-aged men were initially assessed for cognitive function. One group then rode motorbikes to work daily and the other used alternative methods of transportation. Cognitive re-tests found the bikers scored notably higher.

Cartoon a woman asking a man to ride a motorcycle as part of some kind of therapy

There are also physical attributes associated with motorcycling, contrary to popular belief. Motorbike riding is not as sedentary as car driving, where the body is at rest. Legs and torso are brought into play when riding a motorcycle through tensing and shifting as they help to stabilise the machine. Core strength is stimulated by wind resistance, thighs, back and neck muscles get a
low impact workout.

Physical health is one thing but there's also mental health. There are psychological gains through concentrating, i.e. we tend to forget our troubles. A ride out on a beloved machine does wonders for your mood, it is often said that it puts a grin on your face as it can be a great deal of fun. It lifts the spirits and induces a feeling of freedom and release.

Motorcyclists sometimes say that they go out on their bike to clear their mind of stress and we all like to have a change of scene. The benefits only really work if you pick the time, weather and route to promote a good outcome. The prospect is that you will be reinvigorated and find the experience restful provided you do not have the misfortune to meet a careless motorist or suffer a
breakdown.

Socialisation can come through gathering a group of motorbike mates, camaraderie and feeling reassured through discussion of matters that are of mutual interest is a health benefit. This is rather a strange thing as, on the one hand, motorcycling is something of an isolated activity but, at the same time, it also involves getting to know people who have the same predisposition.

An old man is in a sidecar, taken out by a carer. There's a trailer with medical equipment in it

Just as isolation and loneliness is said to have an adverse effect on well-being, the ability to be accepted by a bunch of like-minded individuals gives a sense of belonging. You become part of a family of motorcyclists as it were. If you have a bike related issue then there are others who you can ring for a chat, pals who will understand and, no doubt, try to assist if they can.

Simply knowing that my motorbike is sitting in the garage is like Linus's security blanket, a back-up resource. I cosset the motorbike while the car stands neglected. It is fantastic to hear it running and even better to follow the exhaust note through the gears. Something to think about and admire rather than to contemplate the various issues and worries that life throws at us.

I would feel relative deprivation if, on a quiet mild day, I could not toddle off somewhere, usually a remote town that I find picturesque with a pleasant café. Taking quieter back roads, trying to include a few interesting places on route and relishing the scenery. If I can stay out of trouble, it is a great tonic especially with the added bonus of companionship, body toning and mindfulness.


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Reader's Comments

Ian Soady¹ said :-
Some excellent points there Ian. Although as a confirmed antisocial curmudgeon I think the benefits of the "family of motorcyclists" may be overstated - however virtual families like this one score in that one can take part or not as the whim dictates.

That study is interesting although based on a small sample and I wonder how / whether participants were randomised into one group or the other. I also see the researcher was the author of various brain training software packages which have not been universally welcomed.

There was an interesting article in, I think, the Observer last week talking about the benefits of focusing one's attention which I think is relevant as it's hard to think of anything else when riding especially in a spirited fashion.
13/01/2022 14:14:07 UTC
ian said :-
very helpful - good point, i changed that paragraph about the family of biking as follows;-

ust as isolation and loneliness is said to have an adverse effect on well-being, the option to be accepted by a bunch of like-minded individuals gives a sense of belonging. Friendship is thus on offer. If you have a bike related issue there are others you can contact, people who will no doubt, try to assist if they can even if it is only to point you in the direction of reliable specialists.

you are quite right, bikers don't always want to get too close to others until they are sure of what they are getting into, me included. I don't want to paint a picture of some over matey community because that isn't really the case, we all go our own way tbh.

13/01/2022 18:45:34 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I find motorcyclists are like any other bunch of folks. There's gudduns and badduns, there's dullards and entertainers, there's quiet folk and exhibitionists. For myself the motorcycle provides a means of introduction. What I mean is I would not normally approach a random stranger in the street and say "hey, what kind of shoes are they?" but it seems socially acceptable to approach a random motorcyclist and ask "hey, how'd you find them Pirellis?" From that point on you may find yourself talking to any kind of human being, but at least you're talking. It's not unheard of to find myself making excuses to politely leave but usually things go OK.


14/01/2022 10:06:56 UTC
ian said :-
yes you are right ren - it can be a difficult judgement. it begs the question, is motorcycling, at heart, an anti or a social activity, the reality is that it is a strange balance.
14/01/2022 13:36:08 UTC
said :-
i did a related story some time ago
Posted Image
14/01/2022 14:52:43 UTC
ian said :-

Posted Image
14/01/2022 14:53:26 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Yes, I think you make Ren's point. I'm the person who at any party (or social gathering as we call them now) will be found sat in a corner with a book. When my job involved going to international meetings etc I found that most of the actual decisions were made in unofficial little gatherings which I never felt comfortable with so missed out on a lot.

I have only been on a handful of "group rides" and hated all - either too fast or too slow and with some of the riskiest riding I've ever seen. So all my long tours were made solo - which had the advantage that at the end of the day I could relax in a bar or restaurant and be open to chatting to local people rather than being in a separated group with little local interaction.

I'm one of the few people who have actually not worried about the "restrictions" of the last couple of years as they largely suit me down to the ground! I do accept that many don't see it that way however.
15/01/2022 10:34:25 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ian. Soady that is.
"why are you sitting in my chair"?
Upt'North.
15/01/2022 13:49:08 UTC
ian said :-
ian s
- thanks for your help. i am going to write something about 'grumpy bikers' eventually as it describes the average vjmc member but of course i don't want to bite the hand that feeds haha - how to do it with humour evades me at present.

Posted Image
15/01/2022 16:35:39 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
VJMC? They are a funny lot.
Upt'North.
15/01/2022 22:04:37 UTC

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