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  • Sarah Merrell

COVID and the Silver Linings Playbook for Motorcyclists

Updated: Sep 23


2020 has been a tumultuous year for motorcyclists. Since March, numerous races, track days and events have been canceled. And even though many areas of the country have lifted restrictions, some motorcyclists have been hit hard financially by COVID and the economic downturn. For those who have lost their income or revenue, paying for motorcycle events, parts or even tires is out of the question. In speaking with my two-wheeled friends, we all have one thing in common: At some point this year we’ve found ourselves either disappointed at best or struggling for survival at worst. And wherever you fall along that spectrum, let’s be real: It’s hard! But sometimes it‘s the difficulties in life that shape us, and I’ve found some two-wheeled silver linings to share. If this hasn’t been your year, this blog post is for you.

I should start by being honest. I wasn’t going to share my COVID disappointments because I felt that compared to many people across the country and world, my struggles are trivial. But the reality is, when life throws you a curve like a global pandemic, it’s natural to feel sad when something you were striving for and working hard for doesn’t pan out. In my case, it was racing my R6 and my Z125 this year. Due to COVID, the Barber Small Bore Rally where I would be doing my Z125 race was canceled. I could have raced it in WERA, but due to the state of the economy, my husband and I chose to be conservative with our finances and decided to focus our funds on racing our sportbikes.


Daytona was meant to be my first race on my R6. I was incredibly excited and working hard to make it happen. I partnered with Two Brothers Racing on a full exhaust and MotoHub on my race bodywork. I did more track days and got my race license through CCS/ASRA and number plates. But then the Daytona 200 was canceled followed by the Team Hammer practice day that I desperately needed since I didn’t know the track. So I had to make the difficult (but safe) decision not to do Daytona.


To say I was upset about this development is an understatement. But as I grappled with how to handle the demise of not one but two goals for 2020, I learned a few things that have brought me not only hope but a renewed feeling of motivation and excitement.

Silver Lining #1: These Are Speed Bumps Not Road Blocks

Just because I didn’t get to do the Barber Small Bore race or Daytona doesn’t mean I won’t race! I have everything I need in place to be a racer, my dream merely hit a speed bump and will be pushed to 2021. The same is true for any event, race or track day that was canceled—or even two wheeled vacation. It’s not that it will NEVER happen. It just may not happen RIGHT NOW. So patience during this bizarre time in history is key. And that is a valuable lesson we all can learn: patience.

Silver Lining #2: Sometimes a Speed Bump Can Launch You in the Right Trajectory

So racing the Z125 and R6 didn’t work out for me...this year. But what did it do is enable me to take the right steps and be better prepared to race in 2021 thanks to more track time. Between now and my first race, I can have more track days and preparation under my belt. So what about you? When you think about your two-wheeled disappointment, what can you do differently that will be helpful? For example, if you had a motorcycle vacation planned, perhaps you can use this time to save more money and have an even better trip. Or if you missed a race, like me, use this time to hone your race craft or do a riding school. Or if you missed a bunch of group events, use the time to enjoy some much-needed alone time with your bike to de-stress.


Silver Lining #3: This Won’t Last Forever So Enjoy the Camaraderie

The interesting thing about COVID is that we’re all experiencing many of the same struggles and emotions. We‘re in this together. And within the motorcycling community, I have felt this strongly. I live at The Dragon, one of the busiest and top motorcycling destinations in the world. At the start of COVID, it was eerie. On what would normally be a packed Saturday in March,

it was empty. Sure, I had fun doing some traffic-free Dragon runs. But after a few weeks went by, I desperately missed the excitement of a packed parking lot of bikes. And I missed our pit bike races. And group rides. I missed seeing other riders, period. It made me realize how thankful I am for the motorcycle community and the people within it. I’m sure once COVID is in the past I‘ll long for the traffic-free days. But for now it makes me so happy to see other motorcyclists after experiencing what it‘s like without any.


Silver Lining #4: Just Be Kind to People

Look. We’ve all have a rough year. And I think that’s why the times that people have been kind have stood out in my mind. Here are some examples. I ran out of tire at a Little Tally track day and Chuck Easter leant me his wheel and tire. The Pirelli guys at Road Atlanta‘s Aprilia Racers Day changed my tires to rains for me in the pouring rain so I could ride. I had friends and brands give me super cool hook ups to make getting my bike race-ready possible. I had the help of coaches. I had friends let me stay with them during track weekends. None of these people had to be kind—but they were. When I look back on the year, I see so much kindness that has meant even more to me because it has been a DIFFICULT year. So I beg everyone: be kind. If you don’t believe me, then believe this—studies actually show that performing acts of kindness to others makes you a happier person. After all, we’re all part of the same community that has a passion for life on two wheels.



In closing, when we think about 2020, it’s ok to hate it. It’s ok to be disappointed and angry and frustrated. It’s ok to give 2020 the finger. But don’t forget the value that comes from persevering through these times and what we can gain from it. And to turn those challenges into opportunities. To learn patience. And to learn kindness.


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