Community Commentary The Two-Wheel Crutch For COVID-19: Lieback's Lounge

The Two-Wheel Crutch For COVID-19: Lieback’s Lounge

Every motorcyclist I know, from local to worldwide riding buddies, is struggling with this new normalcy of quarantine.

With tracks closed, my racing and track-only friends are struggling the most. Many of them quit riding the street due to their self-imposed unsafety factor of such riding situations.

This baffles me. I’m addicted to all forms of riding, and if I don’t get my weekly riding fixes, I crack. Nowadays, I have an equal passion for all riding styles, from the racetrack to the street and to the trails via the “big” Adventure bikes.

1050XT Suzuki V-Strom off-road reviewYes, I miss the track, and I’m spoiled as a journalist because I get to ride world-class circuits on the latest and greatest machinery

This brings me to a close second group of riders who are struggling with the current situation—the motorcycle journalists, including me.

Spring typically has moto-journos flying all over the world, whether new tires at Jerez or the latest literbike at Circuit of the Americas or an updated ADV bike in Morocco.

Not only is the riding missed, but also the comradery. I’ve become tight with many fellow riders who write, and every launch produces unique memories that add serious value to life, although many of those memories must remain untold.

Yes, the racetracks are closed, and the launches put on hold, but it’s something no rider has control over. This forced me to put more emphasis on my street and off-road ADV riding, something that countless others and I have used as an effective way to keep the stress levels down.

For me, motorcycles are once again proving over and over again as the cure for psychological distress, just as they had during times as worrisome as my wife’s double mastectomy to the death of a close friend.

Rocket 3 horsepowerOnce I get riding, especially at spirited paces, the reality of what’s happening fades. All focus is on the road ahead and using each control in unison to perfect safety while increasing the mph. I typically lose track of time. For example, a ride for tomatoes three weeks ago turned into 150 miles.

Those who quit street riding are missing out, especially during this pandemic. The street is dangerous due to other cars and animals, but I argue most accidents are avoidable with some discipline and relentless skill training. I have busted loads of body parts from accidents, which, after some time to think about them, were all preventable on my part.

I take full control, and can’t blame the mindless drivers. I should have been smarter.

My other ways of dealing with the pandemic are practicing many big-bike ADV riding skills in the back yard—a joy of not living in suburbia or the city—while my five-year-old son Enzo practices the art of control and discipline on his Yamaha Raptor plastic quad—no worries, TT-R50 practice resumes this week!

All of this has helped me get through the many struggles that every business owner has also experienced during these crap times. My digital marketing agency had multiple clients pause, forcing me to focus on short-term fixes. For a long-term player in basically everything, this short-term thinking is all new to me.

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M TestMotorcycles are the main source of getting through this, and a super-close second is writing, which has also helped me get through the past few weeks. I set some stupid goals for myself when quarantine began, including the completion of a 50,000-word modern writer’s guide that focuses on process and productivity.

I finished the book in six consecutive Wednesday evenings. Like riding a motorcycle, once focused, I lose track of time.

Okay, some training wheels just arrived for Enzo’s Yamaha TT-R50. He needs more throttle and brake discipline, so I’m restarting training, but this time with training wheels. He’s a complete maniac already—something I totally respect (sorry mom!)—but I want him to understand the art of going slow to go fast to fully respect motorcycles, and also build his patience and discipline for riding as safely as possible while actually enjoying speed.

Who knows? He may experience something as similar and awkward as this COVID-19 pandemic when he actually understands how whacky these types of worldwide situations are. And I want him to have a two-wheel crutch for those types of situations.

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling.

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