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  • Sarah Merrell

Motorcycles and Microbes: Riding Through a Pandemic

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

Six weeks ago I thought 2020 was going to be the best year yet. I had just gotten back from the beautiful desert of Arizona on an all-expense paid trip to ride motorcycles thanks to Triumph America and had registered for my first race on my new Z125. I was looking forward to the first pit bikes race of the season, group rides with friends, track days and the MotoAmerica race at Road Atlanta. I was setting some lofty goals too. I've dreamed of racing my sportbike and finally made the decision to do my first MotoGirl GT race on the R6 and start process of getting it race ready. I even made it a goal to travel across the country and finally attend Femwalla (a women’s track day at Chuckwalla) in California. This would be the year I continue making solid strides in my track riding and shave down my lap times. I thought there was nothing holding me back and everything I dreamed and looked forward to was in grasp. But then the coronavirus hit and I (and the rest of the world) was facing a new reality.

It felt like happened in the blink of an eye. In February I was at Palm Beach International Raceway playing pit crew for my husband's race--everything was normal. And then a few weeks later, BAM. Shit got real. And it got real fast. Suddenly the events I was looking forward to were being canceled or postponed and group rides with friends were considered risky. Businesses began to close and people were told to stay home. After a long winter, I felt all the spring activities I was awaiting vanished. That, however, was not the hardest part.

The coronavirus was, and continues to be, a huge financial blow to nearly everyone. I count myself lucky that I still have a job and I'm able to work remotely. However, as this virus continues to unfold, I'm not naive. My job could be in jeopardy. If my husband and I both lost our jobs, we could subsist on savings--but savings are finite. No one can say for sure how long this will go on. Or how bad it will get. I try to remain optimistic, but as a person who thrives on planning and certainty, the anxiety, at times, is difficult to manage. Since we don't know exactly where the coronavirus will take us, we've had change how we approach our finances and try to save as much money as we can. As a couple who devotes a large portion of our disposable income to motorcycling, this has obviously placed constraints. The mods I was hoping to do to my Z125 will have to wait--as will making my R6 race ready. And depending on how this all plays out, I may not be able to attend Femwalla if the money I had set aside now has to fund us through the coronavirus. It has drastically changed how we spend money which impacts goals.

At first I really wrestled over the fact all my dreams and aspirations for this year may not be possible. I felt down. But then I realized that worrying about the coronavirus and getting depressed over what I'm missing will get me no where. I needed to change my mindset. Yes, I may have to postpone a lot of what I was hoping to achieve, but there's no time limit on dreams and goals. If I can't knock them out in 2020, so what? I'll just make them 2021 goals. And when I thought about this, it also made me realize that it's ok to adjust and change goals--goals can evolve.

Quarantine Dreams

I love the hashtag #quarantinegoals. It shows that even in a difficult period of human history we can still find goals to set and work towards them. I'm not completely discarding my original goals for 2020--I'm merely learning to be ok with the fact that I may need to adjust them and that it will be helpful to set some new goals that work within my new reality until we get back to a sense of normalcy and financial peace-of-mind. That being said, here are my #quarantinegoals:

- Come out of coronavirus life more fit than ever so when I'm ready for that track day or race, I'm physically fit and in optimal race shape. For me, since gyms are closed, it means running and working out at home five days a week. I even made a side goal of increasing my mileage so I can do a half marathon when all this is over.

- Improve my YouTube videos and grow my subscribers. I've got Instagram down, but the Triumph Immersion event I attended really inspired me to start doing more YouTube videos and moto vlogging. So I've started creating and posting one new video per week. I'm still learning, but by the end of this coronavirus mess, my goal is to be a pro (well, or at least have made solid progress)!

- Connect with more riders and find more opportunities to do so. Although it's tough to without being in-person, I've actually connected with more riders than ever on social media and online during this time--and I want to find more avenues to do so. Recently, I was able to get a leg up by joining Black Moses on his Life in the Fast Lane podcast. It was a fun opportunity and a way to reach more people. Listen to the podcast episode here.

- Sharpen my skills on and off the bike. Even though we're in the midst of a pandemic, I'm still riding--just keeping my distance from people. This gives me a chance to hone my riding skills, but I also want to make some strides OFF the bike. For example, changing my own oil, riding my bike up onto the trailer, turning my bike around on the kickstand and others. By the end of all the coronavirus restriction, I hope to be even more confident and skilled on and off the bike.

- Build up an arsenal of content. During the season, with all the events, races and track days I attend and leading group rides, it's challenging to keep up with content development like blogs, photos, videos and articles for the magazine I write for. Since I'm working from home and have less drive time, and so much is canceled or postponed, I can get a head start on content development. That way, when everything is back in full swing, I won't have to spend so much time on it--and more time just riding!

In the world of motorcycles and microbes, this period of time is crazy and nothing like we ever expected. But, I truly believe that some good can come out of this and we don't need to consider 2020 a lost cause. We just have to adjust our exceptions and adjust our goals.

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