On the heels of Daytona bike week 2020, many are traveling home to something quite different from the fellowship and boding they've just experienced, as numerous cities and states are calling for social distancing and additional precautions to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, also known as COVID 19. Schools, restaurants, bars, etc… are temporarily closing. Crowds are being minimized. Events are canceled. And for some reason, toilet paper is disappearing off the shelves (sometimes substitutes just won't do). In March 2020, the World Health Organization officially categorized COVID 19 as a pandemic, with information about this new virus still evolving.
Thus far, it's believed that the COVID 19 can be spread through close proximity as well as through respiratory droplets (by way of coughing or sneezing) from infected individuals. As such, travel within the US puts bikers at a particularly unique and unexpected advantage. There are times when the entire point of riding is to, in fact, get some social distance. So aside from biker rallies and parties, this newest of threats may not be quite so devastating to this favorite pastime. However, based on what I'm reading, there's still plenty to look out for. Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind as you try to keep your sanity and ride through these uncertain times:
- In your favorite carry-along item (mine is, of course, my Tank Purse), carry hand sanitizer. Just about every place that I've come across in the past couple of days has been run out. Don't be too discouraged. Get creative. Bath and Body Works had these little gift sets of lotion, body spray, and you know it…hand sanitizer long after they ran out of the individual bottles. Get creative about where you may be able to find it. But, just in case every place is truly all out of the good stuff, it may not be a bad time to learn how to make your own hand sanitizer (ensuring to use at least 60% alcohol). If you're going to be at home anyway, why not make the most of it. It's a lot easier thank you think. You can bottle it up and refill when needed.
- Extra packs of the little pocket tissues or napkins. When you stop for gas, be cognizant of taking your gloves off and touching the pump or breaking out your cards. You may want to be slightly germophobic for the next couple of weeks and use tissues or napkins to touch items like door handles, light switches in bathrooms. Of course, these are also great if you must touch your face, blow your nose, after coughing or sneezing, before wiping your eyes, etc. Check the CDC website or local government guidance to see how the information evolves for additional guidance.
- Think twice before the embrace. While it's pretty typical to give hugs to friends and acquaintances in the bike world, this is the time that you just may have to catch yourself. It's easy to want to dismiss the idea of social distancing with something that may have become as natural as breathing. However, when considering the possibility of impacting loved ones at home who may have a weaker immune system, it's enough to make you think twice. There are still a lot of unknowns about the COVID 19 and its transmission. If, however, there is the possibility of it impacting an elderly parent or person with heart disease or diabetes, be mindful of your impact on others. Check with your doctors for additional precautions or concerns about your health.
- Wash your hands. If you happen to grab something on the go and shove it in your saddlebags, tank bags, or even Tank Purse (I once carried a can of soup to a sick friend in my Charlotte), remember that one thing that many of us were taught when we were younger - wash your hands before you eat, when leaving the restroom, before touching your face, and the list goes on. Check the CDC website or local government guidance to see how the information evolves for additional guidance.
- Be cute. So ladies, when was the last time you wiped your eyes or touched your face extensively when wearing makeup? That's how I keep from touching my face. Yes, I do wear makeup even when riding sometimes. Perhaps something to consider.
- Be ok with staying at home instead of heading out for a night out with friends. One thing I have noticed in my years of riding is just how easy it can be for some people to get caught up with riding and enjoying their lifestyle that they forget there are folks at home who would love to spend time more time with their favorite rider. Just this weekend, I stopped into Home Depot. Quite honestly, I don't recall the last time I saw their parking lot that crowded. It seems as though a lot of people had the same thing in mind - fixing up the home. Spending time on those "honey-do" lists and sprucing things up a bit. This is a great time to earn a few extra forgiveness points (I mean spending quality time) at home with family instead of going out to this event or the next. Lots of events are being canceled over the next few weeks. You may want to double-check the event calendars just in case.
However you decide to ride this ride, Ride Safe!