How to keep riding your motorcycle during COVID-19 restrictions
The mandates say essential travel only, so why not use your motorcycle?by TJ Hinton, on
“Stay at home, shelter in place, self-quarantine, and practice social distancing.” These are the messages we are receiving from The Powers That Be during this stressful time, but these simple, bottom-line messages don’t tell the whole story. While the details of the public mandates vary from area to area, there is still an emphasis on solo activities and being mindful of mental health. Essential travel only, is the rule, so why not use your motorcycle, weather permitting.
Use your motorcycle for essential traveling
Since travel is limited to essential needs, our motorcycles suddenly become more viable for day-to-day transportation. Let’s look at the positives. If you don’t have to carry a passenger, you are, essentially, an island unto yourself. Many of us wear a full-face helmet or mask that serves to keep our own breath droplets from threatening others. Leather, or some other protective material, is frequently worn, as are gloves, so our skin is largely protected from casual exposure. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the t-shirt and flip-flop riders out there, but since you already demonstrate a complete lack of common sense, I don’t expect you to adhere to any kind of safe practices anyway.
Of course, we are vulnerable to cagers coughing and even spitting out of their windows, and may be tempted to expectorate into the general environment ourselves. Do everyone a favor and don’t. Swallow it or spit in a tissue and then dispose of it in a trash recepticale.
Mental health is so important during these stressful times. Riding, as many of you already know, can have some very salubrious effects on our mental health, and the physical exertion makes us feel better in both body and mind. In this stressful time, a little bit of throttle therapy can go a long way.
In areas that are really cracking down, be prepared to show proof of your need to travel. A company-issued ID or a recent paystub can prove where you work and your driver’s license shows where you live to justify your commute. Likewise, the old prescription bottle can validate your trip to the pharmacy. Just remember if you have to take off your gloves to touch something, squirt your hands with sanitizer before putting them back on.
Prepping your bike for the essentials
Now, bikes can be somewhat limited in utility, especially if you are trying to make a run on bulky items like bundled multi-packs of toilet paper, but there are some things you can do to expand your cargo capacity.
Your pillion pad makes a dandy platform for smaller items if you have a selection of bungees or a bungee-net with which to strap them down. Naturally, saddlebags are good for that too, but bikes with bags are in the minority. To increase your carry-ability, add soft bags that don’t permanently attach and you can remove them when their utility is no longer needed.
Magnetic tank bags are another option if you have a metal tank, especially for sportbikes with little or no p-pad to speak of. On average they carry only about as much as a medium-size backpack, and are crushable, so you probably don’t want to carry bread, eggs, or soft stuff in them.
Backpacks are the number one go-to for much of the sport sector, but there are arguments against them. The cargo puts weight high on your body, and that changes the amount of leaning force you get from a given steering input. This introduces a variable that will change the way the bike handles. It may be slight, but it also may be enough to upset the apple cart. Plus, it’s a fact that wearing a backpack increases your risk of spinal injury in a wreck, so there’s that to consider, as well. Bottom line is, if you opt for a backpack to increase your carry-ability, be extra careful and mindful if the situation while under way.
Plan ahead and avoid contact with people
Using your bike for essential travel means you’ll have to swing into the gas station from time to time. To avoid contact with people, use your credit card at the pump instead of going inside to prepay. If you’re pinched, like many of us are, and you have to be careful with your available credit, know which gas stations authorize your card for $1 so you don’t put a large hold on the card and restrict your available credit. Some stations put as much as a $75 hold on your card to pay at the pump and it could take two weeks to release it.
Travel with nitrile gloves, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, and some wipes.When you take off your riding gloves, put on nitrile gloves before you touch the pump nozzle. So far, the virus has been found to have an alarmingly long life outside the human body. It can survive on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours, except for copper, which kills it dead as disco in a brisk four hours. Protect yourself with nitrile gloves, then pull them off and drop them in the trash before you put on your riding gloves again.
Keep your bike and your gear clean
After your ride, clean and disinfect your bike, helmet, gloves, and phone. The CDC suggests materials and techniques for this. Wash your hands and face with soap and water, as well. Regularly wash your gloves and helmet liners, but use caution with spray-on petroleum products. They can degrade the protective foam in your bucket and reduce the protection it provides. Pay particular attention to the vents and faceshield that you tend to touch frequently while out and about. Wash your gear, but don’t forget to remove the padding or armor first. If you wear leathers you can wipe them down with a disinfectant such as a bleach solution or hydrogen-peroxide.
Most importantly, stay away from gatherings of people, and if you’ve got symptoms, do us all a favor and get someone else to bring you what you need so you can stay your contagious butt at the house. On the upside, I’ve never seen the roads so deserted, so the dangers posed by inattentive cagers are significantly reduced. There’s your silver lining.
Y’all be safe, stay healthy and sane. And remember; this too shall pass.