Some bikers prefer to ride along, but many of us are social creatures. Being social has been difficult for everyone in 2020, the year of the coronavirus, and motorcyclists are no exception. August is fast approaching, and with it, the two largest motorcycle events in the US, Sturgis and Laconia. Is it possible to get your social fix while still being safe about it?
I haven't attended my local bike nights this year. I've missed it. I keep in touch with the crew on our Facebook group, but it's just not the same. My home of New Hampshire is among the states that controlled infections the best as of late July 2020. New Hampshire is also the home of Laconia Bike Week, which is taking place August 22-30 this year instead of its traditional week in June. There will be a number of restrictions, such as beer halls and vendor tents, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. This, plus being just two weeks after Sturgis, means attendance will likely be vastly reduced this year.
Sturgis, on the other hand, is under no such restrictions. That rally is run by local businesses, not the city council like Laconia. The 80th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will be at least as big as ever, if not bigger. The Buffalo Chip has booked bands like Smash Mouth, Quiet Riot, Drowning Pool, and The Guess Who to perform. I can assure you from my experience last year that social distancing at these shows is definitely not a thing. I fear not only how COVID-19 might spread around western South Dakota during Sturgis, but also to the rest of the country afterward.
Fortunately, socializing with your motorcycle buddies does not have to be an all or nothing thing. Today I attended a "Ride To Eat" event with New England Riders. This isn't a huge rally, but someone posting "let's meet at this place to eat at this day and time." People make their own way there, individually or in small groups, but there is no official ride. We meet, we eat, and we socialize.
Today's gathering was about 20 minutes down the road from me, and around the corner from some of my favorite local roads, so I decided to attend, then spend a couple of hours enjoying myself on the bike. We took up a number of widely spaced picnic tables in a shaded field, sitting at opposite ends in most cases.
I met a nice couple riding a pair of V-Star cruisers, and ate with them when they offered to carry my drink for me (I'm still walking with a cane so my balance and mobility are still not 100 percent). I caught up with some other friends, shared the story of how I broke my foot, and discussed running Dungeons and Dragons campaigns (it's not all about motorcycles, you know). Nearly everyone there wore a mask when they weren't actually eating, and remained a reasonable distance away.
Events like this are how you can still hang out with your biker buddies without catching or spreading "The Rona," as SciBabe calls it. Besides, when you're on a bike, you should wear a face-covering (also known as a helmet) and stay at least six feet away from other riders anyway. We've all gone a bit crazy from being cooped up without social contact these past several months. Get out there, enjoy the bike, and enjoy it with other people—safely.