How-To: Be Holed Up & Happy at Home

6 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Jarrad Duffy

With 14.5 millions Australians – yep, more than half the population – now under hard lockdown, what better time to re-heat this piece we posted a year ago when, yes, we were all in exactly the same shithouse restriction-riddled predicament. In any case, all we can do is make the best of the situation. Let’s hope you can take some solace and hope out of it. Or at least the odd constructive idea.
See you on the other side…

So here are a few ideas to help get you through the isolation, stave off cabin fever, and come out the other side a better, happier, healthier, more advanced soul who’s ready and raring to ride like never before…


Yeah, those people who’ve lived next door for years, but who you only ever see peering over the fence when you’ve been ‘warming your bike up’ in the garage on a Friday night with a few mates over. You never know, they might have more to offer than profanities about how much noise you make. They may be a kick-arse masseuse, a meditation or yoga teacher, or a sex therapist. Or a petrol head who’s itching to come out of the closet!


Washing and maintaining your bike can sometimes feel as futile as making your bed. Why do it when you’re only going to use the thing again the following day, right? And that’s exactly the flawed rationale so many of us use to justify not replacing those worn grips, flogged-out chain and sprockets, half-bald tyres, rank engine oil, or choked-up air filter. Well, this is as good a time as any to make your moto bed, friends. Many dealers are already reporting a big spike in part and accessory sales, albeit at the expense of new bike sales. So don’t risk it. Because before you know it, those once chocka block shelves at your dealer might start to look like poo paper shelves at the supermarket. Which reminds us, does MXstore sell poo tickets online? Of course, if you’re ham-fisted and hopeless in the company of machinery and tools, send your bike off to your local dealer for a service ASAP so it’s ready to rock when we’re all let off the leash. If you leave it too long, chances are dealers’ workshops will be inundated, and the wait will feel like an eternity.


The long-term mental and physical benefits of regular mediation are undeniable, which means the ironic “I’m too busy to meditate” excuse no longer cuts it. Yep, high time to use your enforced inside-time as if you’re a grub in a cocoon. It’s the perfect opportunity to undergo a metamorphosis of sorts and re-emerge a transformed, self-aware specimen who operates at a higher state of consciousness. Those around you will notice that you’re more ‘present’, and gravitate toward you. And the next time you jump on your bike, you’ll be in an eagle-eyed moto-ninja in the zone.


You can’t sit cross-legged and chanting all day, so stop your procrastination and give that neglected garage or shed a once-over. Even a basic clean-up would make you feel good about yourself. A complete overhaul of the thing could even transform your life. Plus, you’ll stumble across all sorts of old moto paraphernalia you’d completely forgotten about, and earn untold brownie points from your flatmates and/or family for what they’ll likely call decluttering.


If your daily dose of the Coronavirus’ 24/7 news cycle is the only thing that’s been elevating your heart rate and getting your blood flowing, you’re in trouble. It’s time to change your routine to include some exercise. Daily! Push-ups, sit-ups, star-jumps, downward facing dogs, bench press, pilates, or simply stretches … whatever! Just don’t squander the extra time you’ve now got on your hands.


If you’re like the rest of us, your toolbox (the one you use for your dirt bike, anyway) is much like the third drawer down in your kitchen – full of all the old shit that doesn’t make it to the first two drawers; an embarrassing one-way repository for tools, parts and niknaks that you just can’t bring yourself to turf out. Time to stop kidding yourself, sunshine. Empty the thing out, and only put back what you’re 100% sure you’ll use. Same applies with your bumbag, which has somehow grown to an 10kg pregnant tumour around your guts and has been impeding your movement in the cockpit for years, right? Purge that overweight sucker of the superfluous crap, and let it be home only to essential tools that actually match the fasteners on your current bike. Next time you ride, it’ll feel like you’ve removed a spare tyre from around your waist, and wonder why it’s taken so long to do the bleedingly obvious.


It’d surprise us if more than 10% of owners ever bother looking at their bike’s owners manual. Which is kind of dumb because in recent years, the things have come a long way. Okay, they’re not the most eloquent or attention-grabbing read, but they’re practical and helpful. And no matter how experienced a rider you are, or how well you reckon you know your bike, we’ll bet good money that your OM will reveal aspects of your trusty stead that you were blithely unaware of (like, how much oil you should actually be filling the thing with, the recommended torque settings for critical fasteners, how to use that adjuster you always thought was ornamental, how often various parts require maintenance, and how on earth you access all those hidden functions on that complex little digital speedo). It could be the beginning of a whole new, redefined relationship with your bike.


In the ordinary scheme of things, your better half is unlikely to be overly interested in sitting down to watch three continuous hours of dirt bike racing on TV, let alone engage in conversation about your favourite rider or passing move. But now that she’s a captive audience, what better time to usher her into the moto zone and regale her with the finer points of racecraft, rules and the sport’s household names. Once she’s ‘forced’ to dine on this moto fare for more than a few minutes, there’s every chance she’ll twig to the fact that the sport is actually awash with the sort of fit, confident, virile, attractive young blokes you once were. At which point, boom, she’s hooked! Next thing you know, she’ll be binge-watching recorded AMA SX re-runs at 3am in bed.


Want to hold your own when talk turns to bikes down at the pub – that establishment we may one day be able to return to? Sure, if you hang in moto circles, some knowledge will inevitably find its way in by osmosis. But nothing beats an inquisitive mind. Which means making a concerted effort to read (and/or watch videos) about historical landmarks in the sport, its people and its equipment. For example, learning about Hakan Carlquist’s infamous mid-moto beer at Namur in 1988; about Chad Reed taking Australia’s first ever AMA SX win in 2002; about Honda unleashing the first aluminium perimeter frame in 1997; about how Stefan Everts racked up an unbeaten 10 World MX Championships; about Toby Price becoming Australia’s first Dakar Rally winner in 2016; about the impact of Yamaha’s introduction the ‘safety seat’ in 1983, or its revolutionary YZ400F four-stroke in 1998; about KTM’s introduction of the first upside-down fork in 1983, no linkage PDS shock in 1997, electric-starter in 2000, or fuel injected two-strokes in 2018; about GasGas releasing the first fuel-injected four-stroke dirt bike in 2002; about Aprilia’s introduction of the world’s first twin-cylinder dirt bike in 2007; about the cruel running-out-of-fuel episode that cost Australia’s Jeff Leisk a world MX title in 1989; about Kawasaki introducing disc brakes in 1982; etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Yep, time to get your moto-nerd on!


Some of the best advice we’ve ever heard came from Elvis. The secret to a happy life, according to The King, was threefold: you need “something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to”. While the first two are kind of obvious, the third is often underrated. Creating a plan for the future – whatever it is – gives you a focus, a reason for being. And a reason for others for want to come along on the journey with you.


The dirt bike community’s dirty little secret is that they’re not big readers. But that’s not necessarily because they’re not good readers. It’s because they’ve got a poor attention span, right? That there’s not enough adrenalin in page-turning? Well, books are the best way on the planet to improve your attention span. And they’ll help remove you from the barrage of white noise that is social media, especially at a time like this. Embrace the humble book. Expand your mind. And enjoy its meditative benefits.

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