These are extraordinary times as each day brings more shocking news about the Coronavirus pandemic. Different countries are in different stages of infection and containment as the virus spreads around the globe.
A good source of information for the United States is the CDC site for Coronavirus prevention. And the most important part is understanding the current law and restrictions in your local area. This is a dynamic situation so check regularly.
Lockdown or Shelter in Place?
In general, a lockdown is the most severe restriction and folks are not allowed to leave their residence except for the most critical tasks. A permission slip is usually required to go outside, even for a valid reason. A Shelter in Place order usually precedes a lockdown and is a less restrictive order, allowing essential travel like grocery shopping and medical visits.
And here’s where it gets tricky but important. Some governments with Shelter in Place mandates have identified outdoor recreation and trail hiking and biking as allowed activities. The key is no group gatherings are allowed (usually less than 10) and social distancing guidelines need to be followed.
It is a confusing time for sure so here are 10 tips to navigate the activity of mountain biking during a pandemic.
- No events – no races, trail workdays, parties are allowed.
- Only ride in trails and parks that are open – Typically in a shelter in place scenario, all public gathering areas like playgrounds, picnic table areas, restrooms will be closed.
- Ride in safe but less crowded trails – Given the choice, go ride in that big trail network that sees 20 trail users instead of the tight network with 200 users.
We all love riding singletrack but near the trailhead where it’s more crowded, stick to fire roads. 6-feet distancing is a problem on singletrack. Perhaps when you are miles away from people, narrower trails are more welcome.
- Ride solo or with your housemates – Forego that rad crew you ride with every week and just ride by yourself or with one friend who is a known risk, preferably a roommate.
- Hygiene – When you sneeze or blow your nose, be absolutely sure you’re away from folks, especially the ones behind you.
- Do not share – Sharing is usually caring but no sharing of food, beer, snacks, gloves, helmets, anything.
- No touching – hugs and handshakes and high fives are common in our sport but let us completely avoid that for now. And keep riding without constant stops to talk and gather with other people. There will be a time and place for that when this is all over.
- Wash everything right away, especially your gloves.
- Ride at 80% of your ability – Instead of pushing the envelope and doing that drop or jump you’ve been wanting to step up to, tone it down and ride only at the very safe zones of your ability. And absolutely stay focused at all times and don’t get hurt because of inattention. Getting seriously hurt or lost will divert emergency response personnel from the Coronavirus war. Taking a hospital bed away from a virus patient is an even greater offense.
- While you can and while allowed by law, get out, keep healthy and boost your physical and mental health. – If you get to the stage where absolutely no outside activity is allowed in your area, you need all the health and well-being you’ve prepared to survive the pandemic.