When you ride a motorcycle, you already know what danger looks like.
But this coronavirus situation is a whole new ballgame.
Everyone’s scared, and people are dying all over the world.
Here in New Zealand, the whole country is on lockdown for at least 4 weeks.
We can leave the house to get groceries, medicine or fresh air.
And aside from that, we need to stay home.
If that’s what it takes to slow the spread of coronavirus, I’m all for it.
But that means no more motorcycle joy rides for now.
That’ll take some adjustment, believe me!
So I thought I’d share what my man Pat and I are doing instead of motorcycling.
If you’re a motorcyclist facing coronavirus lockdown, maybe this’ll help you, too.
We all need to stay sane, as well as healthy.
In many countries, the coronavirus outbreak means people have to stay home. This may save millions of lives. But lockdown means no more long motorcycle rides – at least for now. So while you try to stay healthy, how do you stay sane? The solution is to maintain important connections: to your friends, family, workplace – and your motorcycle.
This is how we’ve been doing just that…
13 Ways for Motorcycle People to Ride Out the Coronavirus
Wondering what to do first? Begin with a bike, of course!
Access Motorcycle Therapy
Let’s start with some ways your bike can still be a force for good in your life.
1. Use your motorcycle strategically
I know in some places you can’t leave the house at all.
You and your motorcycle will be staying put for the time being.
If that applies to you, you’ll need to skip ahead to the next suggestion.
Here in the New Zealand lockdown, we can leave the house if we have to.
We can go out for groceries, or to the pharmacy.
But there’s no law that says we have to take the car.
So that means we can wheel out a motorcycle for essential errands.
It’s the safest way to get a motorcycle fix without flouting any laws.
We come home with saddlebags full of groceries – and a big smile because we’ve gotten a motorcycle ride in.
Now, you may be living in a place where lockdown rules don’t apply.
If so, you still have direct access to the wind therapy that motorbikes offer.
Motorcycling actually ticks a few of the “must-have” boxes in the current reality.
For a start, it’s automatically about social distancing.
Riding a motorcycle is not exactly a team sport.
It doesn’t involve close contact with other people.
It’s essentially a solo activity (or couples-based, if you ride with your partner).
Subtract the motorcycle shows and rallies and there are suddenly no more crowds involved.
Now it’s just you, your significant other, and your machine.
That’s the definition of social distancing.
Your motorcycle gear is also helpful in this climate.
You have a helmet as a physical barrier against people sneezing or coughing on you (keep your visor down, huh?)
And you’re already wearing gloves, so that’s another barrier between you and the world.
There are a couple more ways to protect yourself if you’re still riding right now, too:
- Ride with extra caution
Now’s probably not the time to see how fast your bike can go.
You want to stay away from the hospitals if humanly possible, and let the medicos save all the lives they can.
A broken leg is the last thing you (or they) need to deal with at the moment.
- Take hand sanitizer with you
I know, it used to be that only princesses like me would take hand sanitizer with them on a bike ride.
But now it’s best practice for everyone.
Pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer, and use it when you’re out and about, handling things like petrol pumps, money and touching any public surface that could be harbouring germs (don’t forget door handles).
It takes only 20 seconds to clean your hands, and put your gloves back on.
Totally worth it.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or face
This can be a hard habit to break.
When you’re out riding, you often need to clear your eyes or nose of insects or road dirt.
Try to avoid the temptation.
But if you have to, clean your hands first.
(You brought the hand sanitizer, right)?
2. Go over your riding gear
It’s so easy to never quite get around to maintaining your motorcycle gear.
Usually, you only reach for it just before you roar out of the driveway on the motorcycle.
But if you’re in lockdown, now you have a chance to take a closer look at the state of your riding gear:
- Is a button on your vest hanging by a thread?
- Do your boots need cleaning?
- Should you waterproof your leather?
- Does your helmet lining need a wash?
- What other items have seen better days?
And if you’re feeling really brave, you could take a deep breath, and pull open your t-shirt drawer.
Could this be the moment to pare back your collection of 4,000 motorcycle t-shirts, and only keep the ones you like (and that still fit)?
3. Clean your motorcycle
Around here, motorcycle cleaning day is not exactly a regular event.
We get around to it eventually.
We do it when we’re not up for a ride (so yeah, not often…)
Or maybe a week after a road trip, when it’s covered in 10 days’ worth of dirt.
But right now, cleaning the bike seems more appealing.
If you can’t ride it, you may as well clean it.
It’s another way to stay in touch with the motorcycle life.
Find ways to love being at home
How do you adjust to not being out on the road?
You change mental gears, and look for the good stuff on the home front.
4. A garage is like having a second house
In a lockdown situation, motorcycle people are blessed.
We have double the options of normal people stuck at home.
Because if you love motorcycles, chances are you have a shed or garage.
That’s as good as having two houses to spend time in.
So you can hang out in the house – or out in the shed.
You’ll never get cabin fever now.
If you’re feeling claustrophobic or shut in, just head out to the garage.
There’s plenty to waiting for you out there, like:
- Do an oil change
- Check the air pressure in the tires
- Does the battery need a charge?
- Change the spark plugs
- Oil the chain, or
- Check for loose nuts and bolts.
And speaking of fun in the garage…
5. Do a shed clean-up
You’re always saying you never have enough time to do bike stuff in the shed, right?
Now you do.
Back when life was normal, you were too busy rushing around to keep the shed in order.
In between working for a living and fitting in as many motorcycle rides as possible, tidying up the shed was probably priority zero.
But how about now?
This could be a great opportunity to go out to your shed, take a good look around, and ask:
- What IS in that trunk under your bench that you haven’t opened in 10 years?
- Maybe you could put all those spanners back on their hooks?
- Are some of those rags too dirty to keep using?
- And when did the windows grow actual horror-movie level cobwebs?
6. Back in the house, the kitchen has gotten more appealing…
More time in the garage is one positive of a lockdown situation, for sure.
But eventually, you’ll get hungry.
That brings me to my next topic: food.
Personally, I’m not turning into Nigella Lawson any time soon.
I don’t get dizzy with excitement about custard, or cook dinner in high heels and pearls.
For me, cooking is purely practical.
By the end of the day, I just want a quick, tasty dinner, not a fussy 8 course feast that’s taken 3 hours to put together.
But when you’re in lockdown, food becomes more of a focus.
Without motorcycles as an outlet, you’re looking for other sources of pleasure and fun.
So it becomes natural to put in more effort in the kitchen.
You could even try cooking something new for a change.
I made gnocchi for the first time in my life the other night.
Always loved it, never bothered to learn how to make it.
Now naturally, I didn’t take a photo of my own dinner (thank God this is not Instagram) but it looked something like this:
Turns out it takes about 2 minutes to cook, is delicious, simple, and much easier to put together than your standard spaghetti.
Pat and I have even been cooking together now and then.
We’re almost like the perfect couples you see making dinner cosily in the movies.
Except there’s a lot more swearing, and we probably haven’t brushed our hair for 2 days.
7. Keep Netflix for the night time
The best way to bring on a severe case of cabin fever is to pull the curtains, and sit in the dark watching TV all day.
If you’re relying on Hollywood for all your entertainment, you’ll get pretty bored pretty fast.
Netflix is great, but it’s not going to delight you day and night for the next month.
Suddenly you’ll run out of stuff to watch, and find yourself hypnotised an hour into a comedy special where the jokes are fired out at 100 mph in a language you don’t understand.
Yep, time to pull the curtains and experience some daylight.
So it helps to mix a range different activities in your home-based day (especially if they’re motorcycle-related).
That way, you’re not dependent on Hollywood to keep you amused.
Then Netflix becomes an entertaining evening diversion, not your new full time job.
Physical and mental health tips
Don’t worry, this hasn’t suddenly turned into a Lifestyle Blog.
It wasn’t written by a wise 22 year old with, like, you know, perfect hair, and the answer to all life’s questions.
Stay with me here, because a little self-care is worth mentioning in this climate.
But trust me: these ideas don’t involve the Kardashians in any way.
8. Shore up your immune system
As we know, there’s no vaccine yet for the coronavirus.
There’s no magic cure, and no way to guarantee you won’t get it.
But you’ve gotta have a better chance of fighting it off if your immune system is strong.
It can’t hurt to focus on feeling as healthy as possible.
I’ve been trying to take my own advice here.
A quick walk around the deserted local streets feels weird, but is helpful.
So is thinking more about what we eat.
That means more fruit and veggies, and less junk overall.
We’ve finally gotten around to start taking some daily vitamins.
I’ve even hauled out the juicer from the back of the cupboard.
So I’m mixing up regular cocktails of oranges, carrots, celery, apples and kiwifruits.
Yep, Pat rolls his eyes.
But he mostly humors me.
9. Don’t feast on the news
As this pandemic hit and then exploded, I found myself checking the news all the time.
I was right up to the minute on the latest statistics on death and despair.
Did you do the same?
It doesn’t help, does it?
In fact, it makes everything worse, because it keeps you in a heightened state of panic and fear.
That can’t be good for your immune system.
It’s certainly not good for your state of mind.
So now I check the news a couple times a day.
I want to know what’s going on, of course.
But it doesn’t have to be a 24/7 focus.
That’s just not healthy.
10. Embrace a new daily routine
Sure, it’s weird being told not to leave the house.
Very weird, in fact.
Motorcycle people are seriously committed to the notion of freedom, after all.
But lockdown’s the way it is for now.
So rather than resenting being told what to do, we’re trying something different.
We’re embracing it instead.
For example, there’s the need to work from home.
I teach online, so I’m already set up in my home office.
This part is situation normal for me.
But for lots of people, working from home is total culture shock.
And that’s not always a bad thing.
It could mean a break from office politics, the stress of commuting, and all the forced office cake ceremonies.
Seeing some positives in all the negatives out there can really help with your state of mind.
Normally a motorcycle ride would sort that out for you.
But for now, you have to manage your mood without the help of two wheels.
What about socializing?
If you have to stay home, will you forget how to talk to people?
How will you replace the normal social contact you’re used to?
11. Make an effort to connect
Here in New Zealand, we’re being told to “stay in our bubble” – which means you can have face-to-face contact only with the people you’re already living with.
That’s lucky for me, because Pat is my favorite person in the world.
It’s a real treat to spend more time with him.
But there are other people I want to stay in contact with, too.
I’m sure it’s the same for you.
It’s not that hard to pick up the phone for a chat, or send a 30 second text that lets someone know you’re thinking of them.
Firing up Skype or FaceTime and actually seeing the faces of people you like can be a massive injection of positivity too.
Any of these methods will let you reach out to your network of friends and family.
You’re all still connected – just not in person for now.
12. Virtual motorcycle communities are out there, too
One of the things you miss when you’re in lockdown is talking about motorcycles.
Normally you bump into bike minded people out on the road.
Or you ride with some friends, and stop to have lunch together.
Motorcycle-related chats normally happen all the time in person.
But now you need an alternative.
Luckily, there are online options which can help.
Remember motorcycle forums?
There are dozens of forums out there, tailored either to the kind of bike you ride, or country-specific. There are often some friendly folks online willing to chat and exchange ideas.
Bike forums can be great places to ask for mechanical advice, and learn from other people’s tricky garage challenges.
(Of course, beware the keyboard warriors who like to fire shots anonymously from the comfort of their mom’s basement.)
And in these unusual times, social media can actually come in handy.
Now has the potential to connect rather than irritate:
- Get updates from the motorcycle industry or bike personalities on Twitter
- Check out millions of pictures of beautiful bikes on Pinterest or Instagram, and
- There’s something for every motorcycle addict on YouTube.
13. Are you a member of a motorcycle club?
Motorcycle clubs are small communities in themselves.
We’re part of the Triumph Club here in New Zealand, and we’ve met some fantastic people through it.
If you’re a member of a bike club, take a look at their website and see if there are updates, or if members are posting messages.
Club members probably have Facebook pages you can comment on.
It’s easy to have a friendly chat on Facebook Messenger, too.
These are simple ways to reach out to people in your bike club you might normally only get to see once or twice a year.
And that’s at rallies that are probably now cancelled.
They’re in the same boat as you, and are going through motorcycle withdrawal too.
Coronavirus Lockdown is About Staying Safe – Physically AND Mentally
The coronavirus has changed everything – and practically overnight.
Isolation seems to be key to slowing the spread of the disease.
It just might save a lot of lives.
But in the meantime, there’s also our mental health to consider.
Normally, a motorcycle ride is our go-to solution for stress relief.
It’s probably yours, too, right?
As you know, there’s no better form of therapy out there.
So we’re finding ways to compromise in the short term.
And for now, we’ll put motorcycle riding on hold.
But we can still benefit from having motorcycles around.
Because bikes are more than machines that let us fly down the highway.
- Beautiful to look at
- Worth talking about
- Rewarding to work on
- Interesting to read and write about
- A way to connect with other bike people, and even
- Fun to clean (well, more or less).
You can still enjoy motorcycles in the current reality – just in a different way.
And one day, riding season will return.
Need more tips on surviving motorcycle withdrawal?
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