FRIDAY MAR 20 / 2020 / by Andrew Talati

MAAP Ride Stage 6 Willunga en-route in Adelaide
MAAP Ride Stage 6 Willunga en-route in Adelaide 2020

The spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19 has been escalating on a daily basis. The general consensus is that 'social distancing' and good hand hygiene is the best way to combat the spread. 

Each day more and more cities are going into lockdown with bans on cycling at varying levels. With many cycling events suspended, such as the Giro d'italia, which was recently postponed by its governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

San Francisco - Stay at home

The City of San Francisco is very clear on how they are protecting their community and to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus which is expected to become worse in the coming days and weeks. These measures include:

  • Vulnerable populations must stay home. Everyone else is required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job
  • It is okay to go outside for walks and bike rides if you are not in a group and keep your distance from others
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart when leaving your home for essential activities

Washington Post Coronavirus simulations

Spread of coronavirus, no action taken

Washington Post - Spread of coronavirus, no action taken 
Spread of coronavirus, 3/4 of the population is social distancing

Washington Post - Spread of coronavirus, 3/4 of the population social distancing
The Washington Post has a great article including the above simulations from Harry Stevens:

British Cycling - all recreational rides suspended

All of British Cycling's recreational rides (bunch rides) have been suspended. They include programmes such as the HSBC UK Breeze, HSBC UK Guided Rides, HSBC UK Ride Social and Let’s Ride Pop-ups.

Cycling UK - Cancellation of all group rides

Bunches - the slip stream effect

North Road Ride - Melbourne circa 2017
North Road Ride - Melbourne circa 2017

There are many varying outdoor group density numbers but at a very basic level, there may be times when riding in a bunch exposes you to biological material being discharged either consciously or unconsciously.

Sometimes coughing or sneezing into your elbow may not be practical (ie when turning, cornering or riding along uneven surfaces) during short bursts of intensity where aerosols/particles/droplets may be expelled from your mouth, the clearing of your nose using the proverbial bushman's handkerchief or clearing your throat.

Biological material may enter the slipstream of the rider directly behind you and unwittingly expose that rider to possible pathogens.

Slipstream effect of riding in a bunch - re Covid-19 - CoronavirusContours of air speed @14.4km/h - 4m/second - B Blocken, F Malizia, T Marchael - University of Techmology NL

UPDATE: Based on the paper by the Univeristy of technology, Netherlands, they demonstrated with computer modeling that social distancing of 1.5m does not remove the risk to the person behind. 

If you extrapolate this to riding at 30km/h (8m/second) or 40km/h 11m/second) + allowing for the partciles to potential float a more realistic disatnce may be 20m - 30m to teh rider in front.

Again, riding with your regular bunch doesn't remove the possibility of exposure.

Social distancing - Be conservative

Social distancing when bike riding - CoronavirusTwo riders in Alphington - quiet backstreets - Saturday 21st March 2020

The general consensus is to distance yourself and to be conservative which in the cycling context means removing yourself from situations where you may be within 1.5 meters of another rider, ie not riding with your regular bunch.

Practically, this can be challenging in most cities where you may find yourself riding less than 1.5m/6ft along side or directly behind your riding buddy.

Similarly, the movements of air and turbulence may still expose your fellow cyclist riding shoulder to shoulder with you to aerosols whether you are moving or stationary so again riding solo is the best way to remove any risks. 

Solo riding is the safest option

Coronaviris - COVID-19 and Solo RidngAnna Spanner riding up Mount Pleasant & kangeroos (on the horizon) - Saturday 21st March 2020

By social distancing from your regular bunch/group ride the exposure to these risk elements is immediately removed and more importantly reduces the spread of the virus.

Solo riding during the coronavirusDallas riding up bedisdes the Pony Club in Banyule - Saturday 21st March 2020

Things to consider when riding solo

Immune system
Remember at these times it's important to maintain your immune system by not exerting yourself excessively for long periods and minimising the intensity/training load, ie when you get back your muscles are not sore and you don't need to snooze on the couch.

Check your tools & spares
When riding in a bunch, chances are someone in the group will have a spare tube, or chain tool but when you are on your own remember the basics:

  • Spare tubes
  • Glueless patches, ie Park Tools - small & compact
  • Co2 cannisters or better still an old fashioned pump
  • Multitool - they are quite small with the basic allen keys
  • Phone - fully charged & ID, ie your wallet

Let someone know what time they should expect to be back.

Ride safely
With most hospitals at their maximum capacity, it's important to limit any additional casualties to their emergency departments.

Remaining active 

It's important during these times to keep active as it helps to improve both your physical and mental health. Ride your local loops and use this time to explore your neighbourhood. Just remember to follow the Coranvirus/COVID-19 guidelines if you have symptoms or have returned from overseas.

You can also purchase a stationary trainer that connects to your bike – see the options under virtual bunch riding.

Virtual bunch riding

There are many great virtual platforms that stage regular bunch rides, however you will need a compatible trainer with Bluetooth/Ant+ connectivity and may require a subscription to a virtual platform, these include: - virtual riding software only - virtual riding software only - virtual riding software only - training focused software - trainers only - trainers only - trainers & software - trainers & software  trainers & software 

Remaining social

Humans are social beings and it's equally important for your mental health to keep engaged with your local community, whether it's family, friends or your buddies in your local riding group. 

While organised person to person contact may not be taking place, remember there are good old fashion ways to stay in touch, pick up the phone, send an sms, email or use your preferred social media platform, Zoom & Gotomeeting (video conferencing), Google Hangouts or Facetime/Skype to check in with others.

If you're out riding and see another rider, give them a wave or like they do in country Australia, slightly raise your index and adjoining fingers.

Catching up on the bike tasks & declutter 

Repairing old bike tubesMany unloved tubes awaiting patching

Those home chores
I'm sure many of us have a pile of tubes patiently waiting to be repaired or a stash of used bike parts that are too good to throw out but no longer compatible with our group sets or components. It's a good opportunity to donate these parts to bicycle recycles and declutter the stockpile.

Netflix & Streaming providers - Some great cycling movies and docos
Icarus - 2017, The Program (Lance Armstrong) - 2015, Pantini, the accidental death of a cyclist - 2015, Pedal the World - 2015, Chasing Legends - 2010, The Road to Roubaix & The Flying Scotsman - 2006, & Rising from Ashes 2002, A Sunday in Hell - 1976 and the quintisential BMX Bandits with our own Nicole Kidman - 1983.

Just like the recent fire crisis - there will be regrowth

Bruthen - East Gippsland, regrowth after the fires.jpg

Bruthen regrowth of bushland after the firesBruthen in East Gippsland - regrowth after the fires in early March 2020

Bairnsdale bunchride  group Clifton CreekBairnsdale local group at Clifton Creek early March 2020

Further information on Cornavirus

Works health Organisation - WHO

Australian Government