In a recent memo to our Board of Directors, I shared that my wife Kelly advised that if she heard me say fluid, dynamic or unprecedented one more time, she was going to throat punch me.
It does appear that that word has been used more in the last couple months than any time I can remember in my lifetime. The reason being, is that it is an accurate descriptor of the current situation. This type of thing has not happened before (at least not in the last 100 years or so).
Regardless of whether it is, uncommon, rare, unique, precedent setting, historic or whatever... it is here. It is what it is and this is our current, and maybe our “new”, normal. We have to deal with it. There is not a previous model or plan to follow, so what? It is up to us to make one.
You should be proud to know that the entire ABATE family has been hard at work to see us through all aspects of this crisis. All of our folks have been working tirelessly to ensure that ABATE carries on and motorcyclists best interests continue to be represented.
The day before Governor Holcomb’s executive order to “stay home” was to take effect, the Bargersville state office was “all hands on deck”. Marc, Cyndii, Tina, Kelly and I, spent about 12 hours and cranked out a few weeks worth of work in one very long day to ensure that operations were able to continue. A month’s worth of membership renewals and reminders were printed, assembled, sorted and mailed. The first two weeks of rider course students were contacted and rescheduled. Projects that required being “in the office” were completed. Materials and supplies were prepared so we could complete other duties and projects from home. Steps were implemented to facilitate remote access to systems (phone and computer) so that we could continue the day to day opera- tions of the organization with no real interruptions.
Staff has taken turns rotating through the office one per day to practice social distancing and limit exposure. All e-mails are being responded to and phone messages are being returned. Boogie pre-registration and RV reservations opened April 1st, and it was business as usual. About half of the campground sold and we had a number of pre-registrations (including a few Boogie virgins). Given the current situation, that is really quite encouraging. We continue to get additional Boogie reservations and rider course enrollment daily.
We have been in constant communication with counsel, consultants and other resources to make sure we have the information needed to make informed decisions as we write, and re-write, policies and procedures several times a week.
We communicate daily with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation in DC to remain vigilant and guard against some language detrimental to motorcyclists being hung on a “Christmas tree” in Congress.
What do you do with a Christmas tree? You hang things on it. In legislation a “Christmas tree” is a bill that “IS” going to pass. Either because it is mandated to pass (like the budget bill in the State of Indiana, since it is a constitutional require- ment of the Indiana General Assembly), or it is so overwhelmingly popular that it will be universally supported. Since the bill WILL pass, any amend- ment attached to it will also pass. Everyone wants to add their issue so that it can ride through on the coat tails.
Given the importance of stimulus legislation, it quickly became a “Christmas tree”, and yes, there were efforts to hang things on it. ABATE and the MRF take our role as “watchdog” seriously in looking to protect the rights of all motorcyclists.
Given the uncertainty of these uncharted waters (that may avoid a throat punch), nobody is absolutely certain how or when we get to the other side of this. Gatherings of more than 10 people are discouraged or prohibited. Festivals, conferences, meetings and events are being cancelled or postponed in droves. The Indianapolis 500 and the Olympic Games are probably the most visible examples. We are directly involved in the production and promotion of a great number of events (The Boogie, The Miracle Ride, Motorcycles on Meridian and The Meeting of the Minds, just to name a few). Some of these events may (likely?) need to be rescheduled, which is a massive undertaking.
ABATE of Indiana is constantly monitoring the restrictions, guidelines and strategies regarding the COVID-19 crisis. We are adjusting our schedule of events, meetings and rider courses as appropriate in two week blocks. This process allows us to evaluate the most current information and act accordingly, without over-obligating prematurely in either direction.
With Region and County meetings and events across the state being cancelled or postponed, our officers and members have done a great job of staying engaged. Virtual meetings, phone trees, assisting in community projects and delivering essentials to “shut ins”, social media messages from Big Willy, calling members that we haven’t heard from in a while... these are all things that ABATE of Indiana is doing.
Take a virtual ride, plan a route now for a ride or trip later in the season, arrange a “non event” event, follow up on calls to action to contact a legislator from an MRF Alert, create a hands on activity for kids that we can use in ABATE of Indiana’s Children’s Motorcycle adventure featuring the Tiny Tots Riding Experience, develop a concept to promote ABATE and motorcycling to assist in our mission to protect, promote and preserve motorcycling for future generations, whatever you do, do something to keep motorcycling relevant.
If you have ideas or suggestions, or want to get involved in keeping motorcyclists focused, please contact us. Be sure to keep yourself and your family safe and be ready to ride, because it will be time soon.
In closing, Bob Stoner and I were talking early on about dealing with the challenges that this presents and our concerns about the eventual out- come and we both agreed that when push comes to shove, when our backs have been against the wall, we have always done what is right, done what has needed to be done and came out the other end stronger than before. That’s when Bob summed it best by saying, “We’re bikers dammit!”
Ride Safe, Ride Free,