With a year of pandemic experience under our belts, we've seen our collective emotions shift from fear, to frustration, to fatigue.
But there is one more big F-word: Freedom! With vaccines rolling out and days getting warmer and longer, we can finally spend time outdoors on our beloved machines. But is it safe to do so, especially with new variants increasing their presence here in Ontario? Read on.
Motorcycle Riding Can Be Done Safely
Motorcycling during the pandemic can be done safely with reasonable and easy precautions. Motorcycles should be called "Social Distance Machines." It’s not the same as wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), but if you’re like me, you'll be covered head to toe including a full face helmet with face shield and gloves. And riding is done outside, where risk of exposure to Coronavirus is the lowest.
Bring the usual:
- Your own food and water
- Mask or equivalent face covering
- Hand sanitizer
- Disinfecting wipes (optional)
Follow all local health guidelines. Before your ride, check your destinations for the Ontario COVID-19 Public Health Measures and Advice website for the colour zone and associated rules.
At gas stations, keep your gloves on when using the pumps. Pay by credit card at the pump. If paying inside, wear a mask, or equivalent, and use a credit card if possible. If using the washrooms, wait a couple minutes after someone else has used it, wash your hands thoroughly, and handle the doorknob with a paper towel.
Your risk of exposure is highest when among people so maintain a 2 m or 6 ft social distance including your riding group. Riding solo is the least risky.
Take fewer unnecessary risks on the road to reduce your chances of needing critical care and thus taking up hospital resources and capacity.
If restaurants are open, choose an outside table if possible. If eating indoors, keep your masks on except during eating and drinking. And be generous with your tip, because staff and businesses have been suffering for a year.
And when the time is right for overnight trips, you can rest assured local accommodations such as hotels, bed and breakfasts etc. will follow COVID-19 safety requirements for the health of guests and hosts alike.
Riding Motorcycles Improves Your Mental Health
It’s been scientifically proven riding motorcycles decreases stress and increases focus. Seat time is also comparable to meditation which can have benefits like reducing anxiety and depression and improving self-awareness. Riding also gives you a positive outlook on life and improves your ability to think clearly.
Riding Motorcycles Improves Your Physical Health
20 minutes or more of riding motorcycles is equivalent to light exercise by increasing heart rate and adrenaline. Consider that accelerating, steering, braking, etc. engages your core and other muscles to hold up your body and control the vehicle; even more so if you’re into sport riding. Riding a motorcycle is an active, not a passive activity like sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Even getting on your motorcycle, lifting it off the stand, walking around for photos, etc. will get your body moving and blood flowing.
And while you're out on the road enjoying the view, your lungs will enjoy breathing the delicious fresh outside air instead of the stale indoor air you get at home. You will be bathed in full-spectrum sunlight promoting your body’s production of vitamin D which you are lacking after winter.
Motorcycle Time Is Not Screen Time
Whether you’re carving through corners or taking a leisurely pace on country roads, you’re participating in the real world, not the virtual world of screens. And your eyes will appreciate focussing on distant objects like the road, trees, sky, etc. instead of on a backlit flat screen in front of your face. I don’t think anyone can disagree that less screen time these days is a good thing.
The pandemic has taken a terrible toll on our physical, emotional, and mental health. And sadly it has all but decimated local economies, especially family-owned businesses and those industries and locations that depend on travelers or tourists. All these reasons are why this year more than ever, you should ride your motorcycle.
And in case you didn’t know, riding motorcycles is fun! Isn’t that why you started in the first place? And with all these benefits, who wouldn’t want to ride a motorcycle!
- Ontario COVID-19 Public Health Measures and Advice website
- Research study “The Mental and Physical Effects of Riding A Motorcycle,” (2019) by Vaughn et. al.
- This Motorcycle Life Podcast Episode 32 - The Skillful Monk
- 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
- The mental health benefits of riding a motorcycle – the ultimate guide.
- Exercise and screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic