As a biker myself I’ve done a few track days, I’ve ridden at speed, I’ve scared the living daylights out myself, but even I am in awe of the Irish road racing scene.
Road Riders is a short series of documentaries following the intrepid bikers who swing their legs over motorcycles and then hurtle through country roads at close to 200mph.
From classic machines to 1,000cc monsters, all are on display which is more than can be said for the scenery which whizzes by at breakneck speed.
We meet people from all walks of life. From Yvonne who will be 60 soon and, after her 24-year marriage came to an end, decided to do her licence and a year later is road-racing.
To Veronika and Indi, a couple who live in Prague and fly over to Ireland most weekends to indulge in their road-racing addiction.
Inevitably, as this involves motorcycles, high-speed and immovable objects like trees, the narrative turns to the dangers of the sport.
We meet Melissa, a 20-something girl who got into racing via her father. “I have no husband, no kids, no boyfriend, bikes are my love”, she professes.
When we next meet her though, there is someone in her life, a 20-year old English racer called Malachi Mitchell Thomas who, within a few weeks of them dating, is sadly killed at the North West 200.
Everyone has tales of people they’ve known and lost and everyone also has tales of their own accidents, some of which are caught on camera.
Then we meet Robert McCrum, a man so in love with the sport that, despite a racing crash which saw him lose a leg, he’s back racing, with his two kids in tow.
In many cases, despite parents being the ones to get the children involved, it is then them who can’t dare to watch when the races begin.
This is also the case with Veronika and Indi, neither will quit, but neither can stand being stood on the side-lines whilst the other is racing.
Whilst Road Riders does give you some sense of the speed and what they go through during a race, this is more a human-interest piece, the focus is on the riders and their families.
This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but, as a biker already, someone interested in the world of two-wheel racing, I don’t feel I particularly got anything new from it.
Yes it’s a passion, it’s an addiction almost, once you start you can’t stop, it’s the ‘grin factor’ and it’s all a big family. These are things you hear from most people involved in motor racing though.
Costs are touched on briefly, but we don’t get a sense of the sacrifice families and loved ones make, except perhaps one wife who had to wait two years for her honeymoon and that was the last holiday she’s had.
Road Riders is a nicely directed, well put together documentary series, very much in the talking heads fashion.
Whilst followers of the sport may feel it doesn’t add anything to their knowledge, other than perhaps getting to know some of the racers better, newcomers to the sport will love it.