man sat in a barbers chair
Mike taking a seat in the barber chairImage by: Robin Boot Photography
man sat in a barbers chair
two men chatting around a motorbike
Event sign outside
12 May 2022

Mike’s story: improving the mental wellbeing of motorcycle riders

Founder, Project Pit-Stop
Mike Stead
4 minutes read time

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Social Connections Challenge is using funds raised by the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride (DGR) community to support ideas that will improve the social connectedness, life satisfaction and mental wellbeing of motorcycle riders.

Project Pit Stop encourages motorcyclists to socialise with each other, strengthening existing relationships or developing new ones. Based in Bournemouth, Dorset, the team plans to use a ‘health by stealth’ approach, providing mental health services and mental health literacy alongside practical bike maintenance tips.

We caught up with Project Pit Stop Founder, Mike Stead, to hear how the project was going.

Why did you start Project Pitstop?

I literally wanted the benefits of a Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride gathering all year round. That feeling at the end of the ride where everyone is chatting over bikes and there is a real sense of togetherness and brotherhood - even among people you have never met before. I was always too impatient to wait another year and I wanted to go to that type of gathering at least once a month.

What do you think holds guys back when it comes to opening up about their mental health?

One reason can be that whatever we are going through, there is a sense that we must be the only one feeling this way (for whatever the reason) because we don't often hear other men talking about it. It’s not really talked about at work, in the pub or even on a ride out. So we just keep it to ourselves and we don’t open up but then another person keeps quiet for the same reason. We need to break this cycle.

What do you want to see change with the project?

We want men to feel like they can always talk openly about anything, that no one will judge them and we are all in this together. There is also a good chance that they will encourage someone else to be more open (and maybe ask for help if required). That simple act could literally save someone’s life.

What has the DGR and Movember funding meant for the project so far?

At a simple level, we reach out and benefit men with our regular moto social events. We host a gathering at a friendly biker venue where anyone can always come together for a brew and chat (about anything).

At our events we have a mechanic to help riders and give tips because just tinkering with a bike can start a conversation. We also have a bike riding G.P Doctor that attendees can chat to about anything - even a ‘trivial' physical concern could impact on their mental well being. Our Doctor also gives more serious talks about important health topics such as prostate and testicular cancer which we also brought the topic to life with our “Check your nuts” game. Our mental health first aider is also always there to chat with.

We also have occasional guest speakers such as Titch Cormack from the BBC TV show ‘The Speedshop’ and we encourage them to also share their personal stories or learnings about mens health.

The ‘content’, key messages etc from these events then carry over into social media channels so thousands more can hopefully see how men can be more open and support each other (where ever they are).

This is only made possible by the amazing support and funding from Movember and DGR that enables us to have a grassroots community based ‘movement’ providing an ‘always on’ physical and digital presence.

Have you seen first hand the impact of the events?

We have had and overheard many inspiring conversations and one of the most interesting and insightful was actually about the topic of male suicide. There were three friends chatting about it and one of the three men had a close friend who had taken their life and another had attempted suicide when they were younger (this is just among 3 men!). But no one knew this about each other because we don't talk about it enough. So it’s inspiring to start to hear these informal conversations at our social gatherings.

What’s your message when it comes to men’s health?

You are not the only one. Whatever you are going through, be it mental or physical, there are others going through something similar - it might be someone work or even a buddy. But we don't know because too often we keep it to ourselves and don't talk about it. So lets be open, share our experiences and support each other so no one feels like they are the only one.

For more information on the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride head here.