The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. Almost every day, new information and data comes to light, affecting our daily routines and practices. For cyclists, messages have been mixed. Some are saying it’s a great time to get in some long, early-spring outdoor rides. Others say riding outside is irresponsible, as it’s an activity that risks putting another patient in an overwhelmed hospital system. Thankfully Cycling Canada has come out with some guidelines to help us figure out what to do with ourselves.
The big question: Should you ride outside?
If you have the means to train inside, Cycling Canada recommends you extend your trainer season. “Canadians have been urged to stay at home to reduce the spread of the virus,” says the organization. “At this time, Cycling Canada recommends that cyclists who are equipped to ride indoors strongly consider staying home for recreational riding and training.”
As of Mar. 30, outdoor cycling has not been prohibited by the Government of Canada. Local authorities may have different policies. For example, the local Montreal government is expected to announce restrictions on running and cycling—similar to those in France—in the coming days. If you do choose to ride outside, respect Cycling Canada’s recommendations and only go out for a ride once a day or as is strictly necessary.
No group rides
Unless the person you’re isolating with is also a cyclist, riding alone is the only option right now. “If cyclists do not practice proper social distancing, the government may feel it has no choice but to intervene and prevent all outdoor riding which has happened in some other countries,” says Cycling Canada. A viral video of a large group of cyclists in London’s Richmond park led to the closing of the park.
Stay local and respect closures
Cycling Canada recommends you don’t travel to the next city or town to ride. Travel between communities accelerates the spread of COVID-19, and can bring the virus to smaller communities that don’t have the same health resources as larger urban centres. Many small towns and tourist destinations – including Whistler, Canmore, Squamish and cottage towns in Ontario and Quebec– are asking visitors to put off visiting until it is safe to do so.
Now is not the time to go for a downhill KOM. Ride your bike responsibly and avoid going hard enough that you get distracted from the road (a good bit of advice for riding any time, but particularly in these conditions). Nobody plans for accidents to happen, but if you crash and require medical attention right now, you’re taking away valuable time and resources from an already overwhelmed system. It also goes without saying that, for your own health, you should also be minimizing time spent in any medical facility at the moment.
Practice physical distancing and good hygiene
If you’re cycling outside, stay 2 metres away from others, avoid crowded areas and wash your hands when you get home. Bring your own nutrition so you aren’t required to stop anywhere for a snack.
At home activities
Cycling Canada is encouraging athletes to do home workouts or exercise routines rather than heading outside for a ride, so now is a great time to do those core workouts you’ve been putting off. The Ontario Cycling Association has planned a series of webinars with activities such as yoga for cyclists, nutrition tips and home workouts. Cycling Canada also will be hosting Zwift rides with athletes such as Catharine Pendrel, Ross Wilson and Antoine Duchesne, to encourage cyclists to stay home.
In summary, ride inside if you can, or try and do some home workouts. If you need to go outside, do so safely and responsibly.