Mountain Biking Responsibly During a Pandemic
Contributed By: Sam Bosence
Updated: April 8, 2020
We all know that the spring brings both the flowers and the birds, but as mountain bikers we also know that it brings the smell of the dirt drying up and calling us to the trails! Being keen to ride is not a bad thing. We just need to remember to be responsible, and to follow the advice of local authorities and trail managers.
Now is the time to bike within your limits. The healthcare system has enough to contend with these days – they do not need to see you about a broken bone too. Take it easy, and reduce your risk. Now is the time to bike with one friend (from the same household) to keep you sane and healthy during these hard times. Now is the time to practice air high-fives and say no to carpooling. Now is not the time to try that jump for the first time.
New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland have all declared a state of emergency, which results in restrictions on size of gatherings and limits access to municipal and provincial properties. This has resulted in the closure of some municipal and provincial parks.
Italy, Spain, and France have temporarily prohibited recreational cycling under guidance from their governments. If we ignore the recommendations and strive for a Strava record during this pandemic, Canada is likely to follow.
We know that the season of organized events is going to change. PinkBike has been keeping a complete timeline of the ways the virus has impacted mountain biking across the world in recent weeks. Let’s do our best to keep the recreational ride option! By leading by example and encouraging others in your community to do the same, we might just get to ride this spring.
Even if you don’t have the virus and live in a place without restrictions on outdoor recreation, please do not ride dangerously. Bike-related hospital visits put additional stress on local medical systems and put riders at increased risk of exposure; do not undertake any activities that put you or others at risk.
Cycling Canada has compiled a list of FAQs about COVID-19, and shared a status on domestic events:
In order to continue to support the efforts from public health authorities to minimize the transmission of the virus, and to reduce the pressure on athletes and members, Cycling Canada is now recommending that all cycling events on the Cycling Canada calendar be postponed or cancelled until June 14th. For an up to date list of cancelled or postponed events, please consult the event list.
IMBA Canada has recently shared the following tips to keep your trails and community safe during COVID 19:
Ride solo or with your family/roommates – Practice social distancing by riding solo or only with who you have been self-isolating with. Keep your distance around others on the trails, at the trailhead, and parking lots.
Avoid busy trailheads – Find solitude and help protect your community by finding places or times to ride that do not draw a crowd. Check online to see if your local trails are still open.
Ride within your limits – Ride smart and conservatively to minimize your risk of injury. Our healthcare system does not need the additional strain of injuries. Now is not the time to ride that new trail you’ve been eyeing up.
Cancel group events – Group events such as rides, races, and trail development days should be canceled or postponed until self-isolation is no longer recommended by Health Canada.
Take care of your trails – Reach out to your trail association and ask how you can help maintain the trails. With the cancelation of group trail builds and an increase in traffic on the trails, maintenance will definitely be needed. There’s always lots of work to do that can be done alone such as clearing up water drainage and picking up garbage.
Support your local bike shop – Reach out to your local bike shop to see how you can still get your bike serviced or consider grabbing a gift card to help them financially through these tough times.
IMBA shared the following best practices for riding during the pandemic gathered from some notable clubs and associations across North America:
Should mountain bikers host group rides or trail work days?
Cancel, postpone or reschedule upcoming events including races, trail work, and group rides until there are new government directives. For now, let’s ride in very small groups, keep our distance, and enjoy our trails close to home to minimize the risks associated with car travel.
How can trail users pass responsibly with social distance?
Stay alert, slow down, and communicate with each other from a distance about how to proceed. With gyms and rec centers closing, there may be new users on the trails. It’s a great time for community education on responsible riding and for being patient, exemplary stewards.
The trails are a wonderful place to get out with your family and pets, to breathe some fresh air, and take a moment to be grateful for all you have.
PLEASE make smart and conservative choices when you’re out on the trails! Our local health services and staff simply do not have the capacity to deal with biking injuries at this time, and have specifically requested that we spread the word.
Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association
- Give each other space. We recommend a MINIMUM 2 bike lengths between trail users. We know that you will do better than that, you will do your best and still have fun. Air fives, posts and comments are great ways to appreciate the radness.
- Keep it to yourself. Don’t share bicycles, helmets, gloves, water bottles, snacks, whisky flasks, post-ride beers, vaping devices or smokes with your friends. If you need to loan a pump, tube or tool to someone, have them keep it until they can properly sanitize it.
- Take it down a notch. Hospitals, ambulances and first responders are under tremendous stress. Work on something fun and simple, like manuals, instead of eyeing up that big gap you’ve wanted to hit.
- Ride to ride. Putting your bike in/on your car to ride your bike has always been less than ideal. Riding to trails keeps you fit, outdoors, away from gas/charging stations and auto accidents.
- Go before you go. Lots of trailheads and trail areas don’t have restrooms and nobody wants to clean those that do. Before you ride, take a minute to relieve yourself.
- It’s snot cool. It’s never nice, but now blowing your mouth, lungs or nose out in the vicinity of others is dangerous to them and will diminish your opportunities to ride with others. Carry wipes or get a long, long, long way away from people and trail with your face aimed at and close to the ground.
- Ride the couch. If you are sick, in any way consistent with Covid-19 symptoms, please stay home and get well so that we see you on the trail again, soon.
- Make believe. Pretend that you are already sick and those other trail users are your best friends. It might be true.
- Have a stash. Keep some sanitizing wipes, a spray bottle of isopropyl and/or disinfecting spray handy, even in your pack. Your trail using friends will appreciate that you are wise and caring.
- Look out for others. Parents! You need to talk to your children and encourage over-adherence to these and other protocols. We are all in this together, so education, encouragement and calling out others are good tactics. Practice your heckling skills for use during cyclocross season or against those younger and more talented than you.
Salt Lake Valley Trails Society
Let’s be part of the solution by keeping our distance, not gathering in large groups, and keeping recreation-related injuries minimized. So keep it slow, keep your distance and make the safest choices when you are riding, hiking and running.
North Shore Mountain Bike Association
Please be responsible, and check with your local trail managers or cycling club before heading out onto the trails.
Remember, it’s definitely ok to stay home right now and stick to streaming your favourite biking videos.
You can also stay home and train to be ready for the upcoming season.
Stay smart. Stay healthy. Consider staying home.