Opinion: Riding outside is all right, within reason

Getting fresh air on two wheels is still allowed, for now, but it does look different

April 12th, 2020 by | Posted in Feature | Tags: , , ,

Stay home as much as possible. Stay safe. Get outside for fresh air and exercise. The government recommendations are important to flattening the curve of COVID-19, but finding the balance between them can be confusing as an individual.

Some countries, like France, have imposed strict limitations on personal movement. Canada has left us with the responsibility to decide for ourselves how we get fresh air and what the limits are on exercise. Canadians cyclists looking to get outside after a long winter on the trainer must now figure out what is healthy and responsible.

This five part COVID-19 ride guide will attempt to give you all the information currently available so you can make an informed decision on the riding during the pandemic.

Canada is a big country, and regulations differ from province to province. This is also a rapidly changing situation. All the information presented is current as of publishing date.

Part 1) Seriously, stop group riding
Part 2) Opinion: For now, I’m happier riding indoors
Part 3) Be Kind: Community and respect in a rapidly changing environment
Part 4) Opinion: Why its ok to ride outside, within limits
Part 5) FAQ for cyclists during COVID-19

Riding outside is still allowed. For now.

Initially, I was on board with writing the pro-riding opinion piece for this COVID ride guide. But I have to admit that over the last four or five days, my opinion has changed. Or at least, the conditions for safe riding have narrowed significantly. Which is really unfortunate, because I think a large part of that narrowing is due to people’s behaviour.

Some Qualifiers: Still riding outside, but …

If we want to continue riding outside, we have to do so responsibly.

It’s not just group riding, which it has been said many times already but apparently needs to be said again, should not be happening. At all.

It’s gathering at crowded trailheads. It’s riding popular routes, passing too close to people or choosing the onset of a pandemic to do your epic 5-hour training camp.

And it’s not just people that are unaware. There have been repeated calls to stop this behaviour. There have been waves of parks closures across the country, with clear explanations that the parks and trails were closed because users were not respecting social distancing. Yet parking lots are still crowded, to overflowing.

Riding, but not as usual

I think it is still possible to safely continue riding outside, if we act appropriately.

I am still riding outside, but not in the same way. My rides are shorter, much less frequent than usual and they have a different purpose than they used to. They are no longer workouts or adventures and I am not pushing myself to ride on the edge, in any way. I am taking routes that avoid crowds and leaving space for others. I am not driving to ride, and I am riding at times of the day when I know there will be fewer people outside because I can do that. I recognize not everyone has that flexibility, of course.

I am riding to get fresh air, and clear my head. Bikes helps me do both. An easy hour on the bike helps me feel normal and preserves a part of my daily routine, even if I only get out once or twice a week now.

I don’t have an indoor trainer, and my ability to jog is quite limited. I have started doing workouts at home, to make it easier to ride less. Being in a location where I can easily avoid crowds while getting out of the house is not something common to every Canadian, and I count myself lucky on that front.

I also recognize that this could change at any moment. If the situation with coronavirus changes or if government recommendations change or even if I no longer feel comfortable with riding, I will stop. Riding for enjoyment is not the only way to get fresh air and exercise, and I will adapt. But, so long as I feel safe doing easy rides and am allowed to do so, I will enjoy this small version of routine.