2020 / August

I can ride my bike with no handlebars.

Handlebars by Flobots

Photo by Tom Photo Cycling on Unsplash

I’m sorry to disappoint, but actually I can’t ride my bike without the handlebars. I can’t even rid a bike no handed! But that doesn’t stop me liking the song Handlebars by Flowbots. In fact no handed riding doesn’t really matter as if you watch the video you’ll pretty quickly realise there is a much deeper and darker side to this song. Yet it all starts pretty innocently:

I can ride my bike with no handlebars. Look at me … Hands in the air like it’s good to be alive…

Whenever I try to raise my hands off the handlebars, I quickly lose confidence, start to wobble, and grab back hold as fast as I can. I guess it’s all about balance and confidence. Which is one of the things that makes this song a great subject for the blog. It often does feel good to be alive when your working from a place of balance and confidence.

But, as I say, there is a darker progression in this song. Whilst the subject starts with cycling, it quickly moves on to being able to create things and then moves on to this:

I can do anything that I want, ’cause, look I can keep rhythm with no metronome.

At this stage, it’s still all pretty innocent, but I think that it’s at this stage that the first hint of trouble ahead starts to arise. One of my fears of trying to ride a bike no handed is that’ll fall off and get hurt. It’s a simple recognition that with each decision we make there are potential positive and negative consequences which we have to weight up. And, for me, the desire to play it safe wins over the desire to ride no-handed. But more than this simple cost-benefit exercise, there is also the concept at play here that we can do anything we want to put our mind too. Whilst this may be true, this also comes with a series of consequences. As the lyrics progress, we begin to see the danger of arrogance and self-centredness unravel in the statement we can do anything we want:

I know how to run the business. And I can make you wanna buy a product … And I can split the atom of a molecule … And it feels so good to be alive and on top.

From the personal cost-benefit decisions relating to one’s own life the song has jumped into the realm of decisions which can impact on many more people. But it gets worse still:

I can make anybody go to prison, just because I don’t like ’em. And I can do anything with no permission. I have it all under my command because I can guide a missile by satellite, and I can hit a target through a telescope, and I can end the planet in a holocaust.

Now, I’m thinking these last set of statements, along with some from the previous lyrics are unlikely to be true for the majority of us. (I know, that’s a big leap of logic on my part!) But there is a danger that when we pursue just doing what we want, our decision making focuses solely on the impact on us and not that of others. This is something we all need to consider when deciding that we are going to put our mind to something and do it. Each of our choices and commitments has an impact not just on ourselves, but also those around us. Our choices need to be made with both bravery and balance. And that’s why for me when I see the lyric; I can ride my bike with no handlebars, the question that arises is do I really want to?

Need help seeing the tangled consequences of life? Why not consider booking an appointment with the author, Dr Dave Wood?

Handelbars is taken from the Flowbots album, Fight with Tools.


Founder and Director of Metanoeo CIC and Metanoeo Coaching. Working with individuals, communities and business to co-create #wellbeing4all through life coaching, resources for living life well and training and supporting life coaches.