Social distancing and wearing masks are an important part of the new track routine.

2020 is definitely, shall we say, a unique year; one that we’re all slogging through together. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is still with us as of the end of June, but the good news for motorcyclists is that one of our favorite things to do comes with built-in social distancing! As a result, it should come as no surprise that track days and riding schools around the U.S. are filling up very quickly as soon as they open their registrations.  

There are, of course, multiple reasons for this. While you can hop on your bike and go out for a street (or trail) ride any time you like, a track experience is much different. Feeling like you’re part of an organized activity can be a nice change of pace from simply doing things on your own. Since the pandemic has made many other types of sports impractical for the moment, track day and motorcycle school participation looks better and better. 

According to Roadracing World, those are among some of the reasons track days and riding schools are selling out events and consistently relegating people to waiting lists around the U.S. The publication interviewed several track day operators to talk about how the pandemic is affecting business. Closures early in the year definitely hurt, as they’ve hurt businesses everywhere. Now things are reopening, mostly with appropriate safety measures in place.  

 

A lot of it is the ‘common sense’ that unfortunately seems anything less than common these days. We’ve all gone to the grocery store and seen people wearing masks on their foreheads, or under their chins like some kind of brace, or anywhere but over their noses and mouths. That’s not an effective way to wear a mask, and deep down, we all know it. Individual track day operators and riding schools will have slightly different rules. If you’re at a track for any reason, most organizers want you to wear a mask when you’re not wearing your helmet. It’s that simple.  

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco explained that masks act as a “source control,” because they prevent the larger droplets you expel just by breathing or talking from traveling as far as they would without a mask. You can visualize how this works in the video we’ve embedded in this piece. UCSF infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong said that the best mask is one you can comfortably and consistently wear. As long as a mask covers your nose and mouth, it reduces risk.  

“Three W’s to ward off COVID-19: wearing a mask, washing your hands, and watching your distance,” Dr. Chin-Hong said.  

“But of the three, the most important thing is wearing a mask. Compared to wearing a mask, cleaning your iPhone or wiping down your groceries are just distractors.” 

As motorcyclists, we’re well acquainted with the concept of risk reduction, not total elimination. We might wear motorcycle gear, which reduces our risk of injury. At the same time, we know it doesn’t totally prevent the chance of our getting injured. It’s all about calculations, and doing what we can to mitigate risk factors while still enjoying our bikes. 

On Friday, June 26, 2020, a Laguna Seca track day shut down unexpectedly at 3 p.m. because participants weren’t wearing masks like they’d agreed to do when they arrived that morning. The track’s owner saw this, got mad, and canceled the event then and there. It seems like a pretty simple ask. Wear a mask at the track, and everyone can keep riding and enjoying the day. 

Sources: Roadracing WorldABC 13UCSF