Opinion: Making the Best of 2021

Groundhog Day has once again come and gone. And like Bill Murray in the famous film, every day feels pretty much the same these days. Even at the best of times, this is typically the time of year when the longing to ride really starts to kick in. Even if you’re not fortunate enough to travel somewhere warm to ride over the winter months, you could still scratch the itch by attending the various motorcycle shows in your area.

The motorcycle show season always help kick off the year by showcasing the latest motorcycles and gear. You can stock up on brochures that help pass the time as you fantasize about that new motorcycle or dream trip with your buddies. Last year Mark, Zac and I toured around the MMIC (Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council) show in Toronto. Pre-Covid, Mark and I chatted about the trends of the show without masks in close proximity.

Motorcycle shows also provide an opportunity to dust off your boots and connect with your friends who ride. Last year we participated in a new show exhibit called Clutch Society. Modelled after the concept of Hangar 17 at the Montreal Show, the area was curated to instill a garage atmosphere where attendees could congregate – complete with DJ, a bar and custom motorcycles. Little did we know how much our world would change just a couple short weeks later.

No official word yet on whether the Spring Motorcycle Show will go forward, be in in-person or online. The Moto Social recently reached out to their Facebook followers with a poll as they try to create an intimate digital experience for a global audience. As New Zealand seems to have fared far better than other parts of the world, riders in Auckland have been able to return to having Moto Social bike meetups.

Interacting with friends over a computer or smart phone isn’t a replacement for the real thing, but it’s better than nothing. Things seem bleak at the moment, with various levels of lockdown restrictions being implemented across the country. It’s easy to feel helpless, but there are elements of this riding season that are within our control.

I’ve come to realize that one of the biggest hurdles of this pandemic for me has been having things to look forward to when the options are limited, and restrictions seem to change constantly. I’ve managed to overcome this challenge by periodically ordering bits of gear or even small parts for delivery or curbside pick-up. Even mundane maintenance or basic aesthetic upgrades help pass the time.

Anything could happen from now until summer, but I’m trying my best to stay optimistic by registering for riding programs like the ones offered by FAST. I try to take at least one course every year. Not only does it help you stay sharp by learning and practicing new skills, but it prevents poor habits from forming. Plus, riding a motorcycle on a racetrack is an easy thing to get excited about.

Chances are also pretty good that travel will still be limited this year. Well, it’s a good thing that we live in one of the best countries in the world then, isn’t it? Trip planning may require staying closer to home or booking lodges and campsites that have social distancing guidelines in place and perhaps a refund policy just in case. Smaller rides in smaller groups. The big charity events like The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and Ride for SickKids will also likely be cancelled or heavily modified to be done solo, but that shouldn’t stop you from donating to a cause you care about.

Don’t lose hope. The days are getting longer and we’re closer to Spring than we were yesterday. We may need to continue to wear masks and socially distance ourselves. The riding season may look different than previous years, but humans have become pretty good at adapting throughout history. Be patient, we’ll get through this.

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