Everyone’s been missing riding while we’re in lockdown – even those able to use the bike for the occasional essential journey. Let’s face it, delivering prescriptions around town or popping to the supermarket isn’t exactly going to generate one of those rides you’ll recall in your dotage as one of your greatest biking experiences.
And if you’re in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, sorry… you’re still under full lockdown.
But in England, our Dear Leader has decreed that the lockdown shall be loosened. A lot of people seem to think this means it’s back to business as usual, but really it isn’t – and it’s important that motorcyclists don’t abuse it.
We are still living under lockdown: staying at home as much as possible, working from home if we can – but we can leave the house to exercise as much as we want, we can travel to a place to exercise, and we can meet one person from another household if we maintain social distancing.
Now, that doesn’t sound like business as usual to me. I’m not even convinced that means the flag has been dropped for leisure riding to start again. To be honest, I think that’s wishful thinking – even though that’s how everyone’s interpreting it.
I suspect it’s all going to hinge on how we handle it: behave responsibly and ride cautiously and nobody’ll blink; act like dicks and the police will crack down on every biker, dishing out the enlarged fines for breaking lockdown.
Already I’ve seen (okay, on that most reliable of sources, social media) reports of riders turning up to Hawes on the first day of the eased lockdown, pissing in the street because the public toilets are shut, littering and loitering as though they were waiting for the kind of social scene you’d have got at the Penny Garth Café before the virus. I have no words – well, no polite ones…
I'll be going for a ride this weekend
I don’t want to play the killjoy – because I’ll be going for a ride this weekend. I hope everyone who wants to will feel able to do so and will feel able to enjoy it.
But I’m going out to ride my bike, not to stand around outside a closed café like a wallflower waiting for a dance, hoping for a passing stranger to give me some kind of social affirmation because we’re both clutching crash helmets. That’s not riding. That’s the kind of stupidity that’ll help confirm anti-bike prejudice in all who witness it.
The same thing goes for riding in an adventurous, brisk or aggressive manner. I’m not going to tell anyone how to ride (unless they ask me to put my RoSPA instructor hat on). We all know that the general public are less impressed with wheelies, jumping over humpback bridges (my favourite) and general high-speed shenanigans than we are – but it’ll really stand out and do us no favours now. And as for the general public reaction to anyone hurling themselves into the scenery… Doesn’t even bear thinking about…
So I’m going to ride for my exercise this weekend, meeting up with my mate Ian for a socially distanced excursion... I mean, riding to somewhere for our exercise.
I’m probably looking forward to it as much as some of the big days on my Big Stupid Trip of a Lifetime – the Tail of the Dragon, the Million Dollar Highway… But I’m going to keep it sensible, keep it steady and do my bit to behave in a way that presents motorcycling in a positive light.
I really hope you’ll do the same – and you’ll enjoy your ride this weekend.
• Need somewhere fresh to ride this weekend? There are new daytrips around England to discover on the Daytrips page