The thing that has been getting most of us through 2020 has been looking forward to 2021, when hopefully, we can put all of this COVID-19 nonsense behind us. It’s true that one day we might be able to look back and laugh at last year, and all of its ridiculous ‘social distancing’ rules that change day to day, but unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it’s going to be any time soon.
Because as I sit here, having just heard that the 2021 North West 200 is officially cancelled, I’m finding the will to do anything but sit and sulk completely absent. I’m certainly not looking forward to 2021 with anything like the same gusto as I was last week. Instead, as I stare vacantly into my empty coffee mug unable to summon the enthusiasm to put the kettle on, all I seem to be able to do is dwell on the things I missed most during the year of our Lord 2020.
The ‘C’ word, or the virus which must not be named, has stripped us of way too many things we hold dear, including our civil liberties. Gone are the days of popping to the pub for a pint after work, and not only because the pubs are closed, but because there’s a million poor fuckers out there that have lost their job.
And woe betide anyone who goes to the supermarket without a facemask, spreading their germs to all and sundry. Every Tesco’s got a spotty little 17 year old giving it the full nightclub bouncer routine. “If you ain’t got a mask, you ain’t coming in. Simple.”
But mandatory facemasks and pubs only serving beer with food hasn’t changed my life too much (I just make my all-day breakfast last all day).
What has changed my life, has been the seemingly relentless cancellation of big events, both sporting and otherwise that show no sign of ending anytime soon. In 2020, I’d planned to race at the North West 200 for the first time, race at the Isle of Man TT for the fourth time and I even had the intention to dip my toe back into the scoldingly hot waters of British Superbikes, just to see if I’d still got it. But 2020 said no. No NW200 and no TT meant they were off the cards for not only me, but the rest of the world. It also meant all my enthusiasm for doing a BSB wildcard went right out the window, too. In 25 years of racing, I’ve never done so few race starts. One Freetech 125 Endurance race and one Le Mans 24hr race has been the sum total of my racing exploits in 2020.
Sure there are other ways of getting your motorbike fix, and something else I always look forward to is visiting all the major bike shows to see all the new models the manufacturers are gracing the market with. As well as meeting friends, old and new, of course. Being packed in a hall full of motorbikes and folk with a common interest will never get old, but 2020 hasn’t given any of us the chance to enjoy it.
I’ve been able to get out and ride my bike every now and then (when I haven’t had my arm or my leg in plaster), which I’m eternally grateful for, but more often than not, my road, and off-road, rides have been all by my lonesome. I love riding my bike, but I love riding my bike with friends even more. I know, when lockdown isn’t on, we’re still allowed to ride with a few friends, as long as we ‘maintain a safe social distance’. But after a ride, I want to go to the pub with them, or invite them round for a BBQ and a few beers, but no. You can’t do that anymore. The best you can hope for is a fist pump after a ride, followed by a can of beer and a plate of oven chips whilst you sit on the sofa and zoom call your buddies to talk about your ride; by which point the moments gone. It’s shit.
Unless you are old enough to remember the Second World War, you probably can’t remember anything that has had such a direct effect on daily life, for so many of us, for such a long time. Everyone’s got their own list of things they’ve missed the most in 2020, and although there is a lot to complain about this year, I’m grateful that I’ve still got my health (well, sort of) and a job – which I realise not everyone out there can say.
So come and have a lie down on the virtual 44teeth.com couch and tell us what you’ve missed most during 2020 – be vocal and don’t hold back. Why has it been especially shit for you? We want you to vent. We want you to get it all out, whilst you still can. Let’s leave all the negative energy behind, in 2020 where it belongs. Let’s build a brighter tomorrow, today. Let’s kick COVID-19’s arse once and for all. Together we stand, divided we fall, etc. etc. etc…