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Cycling During Coronavirus: Habits Cyclists Should Avoid – NOW!

Jeff Balton

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Cycling

Coronavirus is slowly but surely spreading to most countries around the world. There’s no reason to panic, but we need to address some important things and learn how to act in order to protect ourselves and others.

Also featured on UsaCycling.org

To stay up-to-date with the latest information regarding the coronavirus pandemic, make sure to check official and reputable resources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To stay informed about the numbers of cases spreading around the world, check Worldometers.


 

How does coronavirus affect cyclists? You might be wondering what you should and should not be doing and how this will impact your training routine.

Let’s go through some important points and answer some crucial questions that you have been asking these days.

 

If You Feel Okay, It Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Infected!

Keep in mindFirst things first, one of the reasons that coronavirus is especially dangerous is that the symptoms do not appear immediately after becoming infected.

The incubation period can be as long as 14 days and in some rare cases even longer.

Though, the average incubation period is around 5 days.

During this time, you can be spreading the virus around without even knowing it. That’s why it’s important to limit your social contacts and self-isolate as much as possible during these strange times.

Does that mean you should stop cycling altogether? Well, yes and no.

 

Should You Ride Outside During the Corona Pandemic?

AnswerNumerous studies have found that cycling keeps your immune system strong. A strong immune response is absolutely crucial in the fight against coronavirus, which is why young people usually have very mild symptoms.

Therefore, it seems like cycling is an advisable activity to do. It could also help us keep our sanity and lift our spirits during this pandemic. However (!), it is important to do it in such a way that you will not put yourself or others around you in danger.

First, don’t cycle in very crowded places or on busy cycling lanes. If you know about a remote route and you feel fine health-wise, you should definitely go for a ride, unless your government has already imposed a limit on traveling.

Second, please try to avoid serious cycling injuries at a time when the healthcare system is becoming overwhelmed. We should keep all of the healthcare resources for those who need them the most. Don’t take any risks when cycling this days — do it for health and leisure.

 

Can a Hard Ride Weaken Your Immune System?

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As you know, a very long ride or an arduous workout will deplete your glycogen reserves. Glycogen is not only used by your muscles, but it’s involved in numerous other processes in the body, including the immune system’s response to pathogens.

According to a study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Medicine, “Illness risk is increased in athletes during periods of intensified training and competition.”

Without glycogen, the immune system will not function as well as it normally does. Therefore, it is not advisable to do very long and hard rides that could leave you exhausted.

During the pandemic, it’s advisable to continue riding and exercising if possible, but make sure to do it moderately. Mild to moderate exercise is known to strengthen the immune system, while the opposite is true for very intense efforts.

 

Commuting to Work on a Bike — Yes or No?

A lot of people have been asking us whether or not it is safe to continue commuting to work during the coronavirus pandemic. The answer is yes! Cycling as a means of commuting is still advised and there’s no reason to stop doing it if you feel well. Just make sure to wash your hands when you reach work or come back home — the same goes for your cycling gloves.

If you used to commute to work via public transportation, it’s advisable to stop doing it in order to stay away from the crowds. Cycling is the best alternative in this situation. Check out some best commuter bikes if you don’t have one.

As a matter of fact, many big cities in the world are seeing a surge in biking, as people are trying to avoid metros, buses, and trains.

 

What You CAN’T Do At The Moment!

What you can't do on CoronavirusTo flatten the curve and slow down the spreading of the Covid-19 virus, make sure you avoid the following activities as much as possible.

Don’t worry, we’ll give you some recommendations for alternatives as well! 🙂

1. Bike Sharing

If your city has a bike-sharing system, you should exercise caution when using it. If the person that rode the bike before you were infected, they could have left the virus on the parts of the bike they touched, coughed, or sneezed on.

Therefore, if you have to use shared bikes to commute, make sure you disinfect the handlebar and the saddle before you ride. Also, don’t forget to wash your hands afterward and not touch your face in the meantime!

2. Spinning Classes

All spinning classes should be discontinued for a good reason. When you go to a spinning class, you’re sweating, huffing and puffing in a closed space with other people around you, and they’re doing it as well. This is an ideal situation for the virus to spread. Therefore, if you’re enrolled in a spinning class, you should seriously consider skipping it, unless it’s already canceled.

3. Visiting Public Places

Avoid visiting public places such as shops, cafes, restaurants, malls, and such. In most quarantined areas, people are only allowed to visit supermarkets and pharmacies. If you have to make some purchases, it’s advisable to do it online whenever possible.

If you have to go to a public place, wear a mask only if you believe you are carrying the infection. Sneeze and cough in a paper tissue or your elbow, and avoid touching your face.

4. Going on Group Rides

Group rides are definitely not recommended during the coronavirus pandemic. Even though they take place outdoors, there is a high chance that you could get infected by the virus or infect other people around you. Therefore, if the conditions for going on a ride are good, make sure to do it alone.

As a matter of fact, USA Cycling has recommended the cancelation of all official cycling events and races. The majority of organizers are respecting the decision and postponing the events. You should do the same.

5. Spitting

Please, don’t spit!

There’s always at least one guy on every ride I go who spits way too often. There’s no need for that, seriously. This is especially important to keep in mind now when spitting means potentially infecting other people around you. But it should be avoided in general as well — it looks bad, it’s nasty, and most people will like you less for it.

6. Riding with Symptoms of Cold

If you have any symptoms that you identify as a common cold or flu, it’s best not to go for a ride and rest for a few days while limiting your contact with others. If you have reasons to suspect you’re down with Covid-19, you should get tested.

Coronavirus is often confused with other respiratory infections and vice versa. The symptoms of coronavirus vary from person to person, so it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish them from other health issues. Riding with coronavirus could put you and others in danger, so it’s best not to risk it and play safe.

Related: Local bike shops and coronavirus

What You CAN Do

Thumb UpIf you want to prevent your cycling gains from vanishing into thin air, there are some home workout routines you can do. When not working out, there are other fun activities you can engage in to stay entertained and even get something good out of this situation.

1. Work Out Inside

Now is the perfect time to drag that trainer or roller out from under your bed and wipe the dust off of it. Cycling trainers and rollers are an excellent way to cycle inside, maintain your fitness, and even improve it. If you find it to be boring, you can do it together with your friends over Skype or Facetime, watch TV or a cycling race.

This is also the perfect time to pay more attention to developing the strength of other parts of your body, apart from your rock-solid legs. We recommend trying out some core programs for cyclists which will help you build stronger abs, improve stability, and prevent potential injuries later on. Most cyclists skip these exercises, but they are almost as important as the time spent on the bike.

2. Help Merchants – Shop Online

Instead of going to brick and mortar shops to buy cycling-related gear and other sports equipment, you can do your shopping online. This way, you will prevent unnecessary contact with merchants and avoid the risk of catching the infection. Moreover, many of your favorite retailers will probably struggle to keep their businesses running during the next several months, so this is a great way to help them out a bit.

3. Read

I bet you have good books to read that have been collecting dust on your shelves. Now is the time to catch up and read a few! If you don’t have any or you’ve read all of them, you can always purchase some e-books or even listen to audiobooks.

4. Watch Movies and Catch Up on TV Shows

If reading is not your thing, you can watch movies and TV shows instead. Subscribe to Netflix or some other streaming service and find something that you like. This is a great way to pass time and entertain yourself. Some interesting cycling-related films we recommend are Premium Rush, The Flying Scotsman, Rising from Ashes, and Bicycle Dreams.

5. Learn a New Skill

This is the perfect time to start learning a new skill or a new language. There are excellent resources online that offer online courses, many of which are completely free. YouTube is a great place to start, but you can also find plenty of free and paid courses on sites such as Edx, Coursera, Udemy, Codeacademy, and so on. If you’re interested in learning a new language, Duolingo is a great way to start!

6. Do Strength Training

Your legs are not the only part of the body that needs to be strong if you want to be a good cyclist! While practicing social distancing, we recommend doing some pushups, dips, pullups, and other similar bodyweight exercises for your upper body.

If you have some equipment, such as weights, resistance bands, or a medical ball — even better. Use them to improve your physique and become an all-around capable athlete.

 

Social Distancing Is a Must

Keep in mindIf you live in a crowded area or an area that has confirmed coronavirus cases, social distancing is very important. This means limiting your interactions with other people as much as possible. It is especially important to keep this in mind when it comes to older people, as they are most at risk of developing life-threatening symptoms.

If you have to meet someone, try to maintain a distance of at least 6 ft and avoid any direct contact — no handshakes, hugs, or kisses.

If you have coronavirus symptoms or you believe you might have been infected, stay in complete isolation for at least 14 days and make sure to wear a mask if you’re interacting with other people.

 

How Corona Virus Spreads?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus spreads from person-to-person. It spreads between people who are in close contact, usually less than 6 ft apart, through respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs and sneezes.

However, this is not the only way in which Covid-19 spreads. You can also get infected from contact with infected objects or surfaces. If a person touches an object with the virus on it and then proceeds to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth, they could get infected.

According to the CDC, coronavirus spreads easily and lives on surfaces for up to 3 days. “Community spreading” has also been associated with it, which means that people have been infected with the virus in the area without being in direct contact with a previously infected person.

That’s why it is extremely important to wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and practice social distancing.

Read Next: Coronavirus Q&A – How To Cycle Safely

Support Merchants: Best Cycling Deals At The Moment

Stay safe and let us know about your thoughts and ideas!

This Article Has 28 Comments

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  • Brian says:

    Great article. Thank you. Normally I ride with a small core group of 4-5. Disappointingly they have continued to do group rights during the current lockdown recommendations. I have a few N-95 masks I bought from the hardware store several years ago. I was wondering if there any guidelines or studies showing that wearing an N-95 mask during a group ride effectively protects you from either transmitting or receiving the virus. I suspect there are too many variables preventing us from getting a definitive answer. As a retired physician I know the importance of following the guidelines and everyone doing their part to flatten the curve, but I miss the group rides very much. Any thoughts?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      A mask would decrease your chances of being infected, but not as much as avoiding group rides altogether. Social distancing is the best preventative measure you can take. It’s hard, nobody likes it, but the better we are at it, the sooner we can enjoy group rides without masks once again. 🙂

  • Martin Bonafede says:

    Hello Jeff
    If you’re riding solo in uncrowded streets is it necessary to wear a face mask?Currently, Riverside County California is requiring wearing face masks any time leaving home.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Martin, if the officials require you to wear a face mask and you’re facing a fine if you don’t, then it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks. You should comply. 🙂

  • Lee Tobin says:

    As a hard core bike commuter I’m home from work now and missing the exercise. I’ve taken to neighborhood rides with my wife and am really enjoying the relatively car-free roads. There are more friendly people out walking and jogging now and its easy to abide by a 6ft to pass rule. I also did a 2 hour ride last weekend with a friend. We did not draft, and took the whole lane side by side doing the “6ft distance dance” the whole time. This was easy to do with light traffic and rear view mirrors, which allowed us to pull way ahead of each other as vehicles passed. I felt safe riding together, but wouldn’t feel comfortable with a third rider. Any suggestions or guidance on these sorts of rides?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Lee, that’s the way riding should be approached at the moment. I think you’ve put it beautifully. 🙂 Of course, I believe riding solo is still the best option, but if you choose to ride with someone else, try to keep your distance and avoid riding single file. If you do, keep a much larger distance than 2 ft. because of the speed involved in the equation. And, you’re right, as they say — three is a crowd. 🙂

  • Bert Dandy says:

    I wonder about 2 cyclists who pass each other. Even if we veer out to maintain the 6 feet between us, when we swing back into or near the centre line, I wonder about remnants of the other’s breath in my path (if he was infected, did I just ride into an infect cloud so to speak?)

    • Jeff Balton says:

      That’s a pretty good question! To answer it, we should understand the difference between droplets and aerosol. Droplets are heavy and drop to the ground, they cannot linger in the air. On the other hand, aerosol is light and can float in the air for quite some time.

      Luckily, when we cough and sneeze, our lungs produce respiratory droplets that fall to the ground after flying for 1-2m, so I think there’s nothing you should worry about unless you pass the other rider shoulder-to-shoulder. 🙂

  • Matthew says:

    Thanks for the great article! It is very difficult in all aspects of life right now. Cycling is a huge part of my life and the life of my friends. I ride with one friend in particular, logging countless hours each month together. It’s not only great to exercise together, but also to talk, joke, laugh, and share a bit about the trickier parts of this whole life experience, and that was pre covid-19. I’m really struggling with altering the time we spend on the bike, so it is helpful and validating to read your words and know I’m not the only one thinking about these things. My partner is a cancer survivor, and my parents are in their 80’s. My mom is still fit, but my step Dad has cancer now. I have to keep them healthy, as best I can, as I am helping to take care of all of them. We are taking all the necessary precautions, I haven’t set foot in a bricks and mortar shop in over two weeks, social distancing always, etc. etc. Thanks for the encouragement! It’s much appreciated!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hey Matthew, you’re taking the right approach! We’re all in this together and need to do whatever it takes to protect ourselves, our family and friends, and flatten the curve. 🙂 Stay strong and healthy!

  • Somebody says:

    After riding my bike, I developed a fever. While I was riding my bike I was in the heat, I only drunk water that day, and 1 banana. And I was dizzy. I took a long hard ride… so I am worried. But k wore glasses, gloves and a mask. But I was breathing heavy in the mask. And when I was riding, the ride shook my head up a lot. Could it be possible I have Corona? I no other symptoms. But I did feel a little nausea . But all I did was drink water the whole day.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi, I’m not a medical expert, so I really can’t say. It’s best to call your doctor and ask for their opinion. Definitely avoid contact with other people until you find out what you’re dealing with.

  • Christen Latham says:

    Thanks for finally writing about >Cycling During Coronavirus Pandemic | A Guide to Do’s and Don’ts <Loved it!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Glad you like it! We’ll be sharing more valuable information on this topic soon, so stay tuned. 🙂

  • Corey Banner says:

    Thanks for the useful tips Jeff.

    On yesterdays mountain bike ride, I felt more vulnerable of possible exposure to the corona virus. There are way more trail users these days. Some trails do not allow for the recommended distance while passing each other. I suggest a friendly nod and smile instead of verbally expressed greetings, thank yous, and other information while passing each other. So please, keep you mouth closed as you pass one another, smile and wave!

    • Jeff Balton says:

      A great piece of advice! If you do decide to have a chat with someone, just remember to keep that 6 ft. distance. 🙂

  • You wrote a very thorough article. All of my questions were answered. I have been running up and down stairs in the hopes that it keeps my lungs strong.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      I’m happy to hear that, Debra! That’s a great idea, actually. We need to do whatever it takes to stay healthy and stay in shape. 🙂

  • Excellent information and makeing sure to share with my friends and followers CLBS.

  • Very informative inputs about COVID-19 thanks for this article for it is a well guided tips.

  • VIJAY CHOUDHARI says:

    Very useful guide lines

  • Shishir Dutt says:

    Thanks for a nice informational write up

  • Dr Subhash kokane says:

    Really good information every body should honour.I am doing regular cy cling.and happen to face huge croud of infected patient of URTI

    • Jeff Balton says:

      We should definitely do our part to prevent further complications of this situation. Take care!