During an enjoyable lunch with a former work colleague and fellow motorcyclist, the discussion turned to our recent travel experiences. His by train from Vladivostok to Moscow and mine by motorcycle from London to Turkey accompanied by a real time, online travel blog. As I explained the tech/gadgets required to maintain the blog while on the road, he raised an excellent point, “Have todays motorcyclists lost that Easy Rider spirit?”
His statement was in relation to motorcycling as a means of escapism or achieving freedom and less so about hippies or drug use.
For those of you unfamiliar with this classic 1969 road movie starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson it’s definitely worth a look – check out the opening titles:
It’s been a while since I last saw Easy Rider, but has motorcycling moved on since the sixties? Can we still “escape” on our motorcycles if we carry a mobile phone or laptop?
For me the answer is yes to both questions.
Motorcycling has moved on for the better. Bikes are more reliable, better equiped and safer, but perhaps the additional safety has been offset by significant increases in power and top speed. I also think that motorcyclists are “legitimate” these days. No longer are we viewed as long haired, pot smoking, working class, good for nothing rebels, unwelcome in many public establishments. These days hotels seek our custom, rather than turning us away, and even advertise they are “biker friendly”, providing free wi-fi access. Gangs still exist but these days clubs dominate.
Captain America and Billy of the sixties have been replaced by McGregor and Boorman and escape has become adventure.
These days it’s less about dropping out of society and more about exploring new countries, riding great roads, track days and meeting fellow riders who share our passion for motorcycles. But it is still an escape from our realities, a time to pretend we are Valentino Rossi, Ted Simon or doing the Dakar rally. And there would rarely be a day on a bike when you don’t get that sense of freedom.
And tech can a play a part in our modern day motorcycle adventures, to keep us in touch with the worlds and people we left behind, write blogs, read our local newspapers online, book hotels, record our lap times, listen to music, navigate to our chosen destination.
But it doesn’t have to. A bike will still work without all the gadgets that many of us choose to take. We can shut ourselves off from the real world if we want to really get away from it all. We still have that choice.
But I’d still recommend you take a mobile phone with you, just in case. They can be very handy in certain circumstances. And it’s not compulsory to take or make calls just because you carry one.
So for me the spirit of Easy Rider lives on, just in a modern day context and lived by a new, tech savvy, generation.