The thing about this pandemic is that it doesn’t know that the weather is getting nicer. It doesn’t know that you want to ride with your friends. It doesn’t know that your favorite races have been postponed or cancelled.
And it doesn’t care.
It’s been a challenge to practice the normal social distancing guidelines to keep our friends, family, and community safe. But as cyclists, it’s even more of a challenge not to get the gang together as the weather slowly improves. When will it be okay to ride in a group, and how will when we know?
We’ve been carefully monitoring recommendations from cycling organizations like USA Cycling and the League of American Cyclists. These groups have been doing a phenomenal job of filling the gaps that outdoor recreation seems to find itself in when state and local guidelines are announced. That’s been more and more of an issue as states slowly start to reopen and relax restrictions. Even if expectations are in place for restaurants and parks, group rides don’t fit neatly into any boxes commonly explained in these executive orders.
First, the best rule of thumb is to rely on those guidelines as closely as possible and apply them as accurately and honestly as possible. For example, if your state or local government is still advising groups of ten people or less, that’s as good a resource as you can expect to find. Stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders typically mean that any group activities are not allowed.
Recommendations from the League of Michigan Bicycles highlight some more practical measures you can take to be safe when it is okay to ride in small groups. These include:
- Group rides should be 10 people or less
- Practice social distancing when stopped; give at least 30 feet (10 yards) of space when riding in a line
- Don't share water bottles or snacks - bring your own
- No snot rockets! If you have to blow your nose, use a disposable tissue and throw it in the trash
- Ride two abreast only with other members of your household
- Wear a mask whenever there's a chance you'll come into close contact with others, because masks are the best way to protect them if you have the virus but don't know it.
Another thing to consider is who you’re riding with. Remember that you’re not just riding with that person, you’re riding or exposed to everyone that person has been in contact with over the past two weeks. Think long and hard about that person’s work and travel history, potential COVID-19 exposure, and if they might have any at-risk family members. When in doubt, it’s still best to ride alone if it means doing your part to keep others safe.