Cycling during the pandemic

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Is it safe to cycle during the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? It depends. If you ask the state and local health professionals in your location, they’ll tell you that in order to slow the spread of this insidious virus, it’s important that you stay inside at home as much as possible. This is because you could have the virus without even knowing it and, through the course of your ride, particles from your mouth (breathing, spitting, coughing, etc.) could get into another person’s airstream. 

Honestly, that’s probably good advice. You don’t want to put someone else at risk, and you don’t want to risk running into someone who might have the virus. With that said, you might be asking, “I can cycle alone on some deserted streets. What’s the big deal? I’m not going to cross paths with anybody.” This may be true, especially if you plan to go out and cycle in a relatively rural area. The likelihood that you contract the virus on a bike ride where you never get within 6 feet of another person is extremely low. 

With that said, if you do plan on going for a bike ride, you need to keep a few things in mind. I’ll list them out here:

  • Your state or local government may have some strict rules in place. If you violate these rules, there may be consequences. For example, in San Mateo county in California, you are not allowed to cycle beyond 5 miles of your home

  • Don’t go cycling with anyone who is not living in the same dwelling as you. You don’t know where other people have been and it’s possible they could have the virus and pass it to you.

  • Maintain social distancing. If you are going to cycle with someone else in your dwelling, try to maintain 6 feet of separation at all times.

  • Riding solo? Keep your head on a swivel and always be on the lookout for others (you should be doing this anyway while on a bike). If you are going to pass a pedestrian or another cyclist, stay as far away from them as safely possible.

  • Consider not riding. Why? If you get injured while on a bike ride, you have the potential to occupy valuable and scarce medical resources that could have otherwise been available had you not been injured. Very sick COVID-19 patients need this medical help. Don’t be the person to occupy a slot at the emergency room because you broke your arm falling off your bike (even if it wasn’t your fault).

  • Wash yourself and your clothing when you get home. I’m specifically talking about your bare hands and any gloves you may have used. Did you touch a crosswalk button with your gloves? You need to wash them, because it’s possible that the coronavirus was on that button. Unlikely? Sure. But you never think it could happen to you until it does.

If you are going to stay inside, you can still get in on some cycling action. Using a trainer, you can set up your bike to ride while inside. Miss cycling with your friends or fellow competitors? There’s Zwift which Wikipedia describes as “a massively multiplayer online cycling and running videogame and physical training program that enables users to interact, train and compete in a virtual world.” Zwift requires a compatible trainer, a bike, and a device capable of running the Zwift app. It costs roughly $15 per month. 

We hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time for the world. If you’re anything like me, you can’t wait to get back out there and do some group rides. Let’s all try to be patient, train at home (why not do some pushups?), and shelter-in-place while we do our part to stop the spread and flatten the curve. 

How’s the coronavirus situation affecting your cycling? Let people know in the comments.

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