Friday Group Ride #498

Friday Group Ride #498

I don’t want to end up in a blurry photo on the town’s BookFace page, an example of how not to be in public, but I’m also not really willing to stay in my house 24/7 when there are good and safe ways to be outside and on a bike. Leaving aside the fact that I’m injured at the moment and can’t hold a pair of  handlebars, it occurs to me that we need a new cycling social contract.

Forget what you knew, things like ‘don’t overlap wheels with the rider in front of you,’ ‘close the gaps,’ and ‘don’t hammer when you get on the front.’ There is no front anymore. There are no gaps, and there’s no rider in front of you. If you’re close enough to read that rule, then you need to back off. I’m not sure six feet is enough, either.

I have seen people out and about, in the neighborhoods and in the woods, wearing masks. I’m not talking about in stores or walking down main streets. I’m talking about people riding bikes on back roads or running in the woods. Is this the new normal? Are these the rules now?

I can’t actually imagine riding my bike with a mask on. My wife tells me that the internet says cyclists leave a contrail of biofilth (my word) up to 15ft long. Cycling past people is, apparently, the new fart-in-the-elevator. I’m that guy. I mean, theoretically.

I don’t want to believe our air is toxic, that clouds of virus are tumbling along on the wind, and I have a hard time believing asymptomatic people are spewing potentially lethal levels of infection, but I what I don’t want to believe is beside the point. I don’t know. What I think is we have to form that new social contract, a common agreement about how we’ll behave now, and maybe for the foreseeable

This week’s Group Ride asks, what are the new rules? Are all rides solo rides now? If you want to ride with a friend, how do you maintain spacing and how much? Do you ride with a mask on? Is it safer to ride in the woods or on the road, or is there no difference?

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  1. Lyford

    I have not been riding with a mask.
    All my rides have been solo.
    The woods have been too muddy to ride responsibly, so just roads and dirt roads so far. The local rail trail was too crowded for comfort on a nice weekend day.
    When I see pedestrians walking on the side of the road, I move over the full width of the lane — just inside the center line — to pass, with a smile and a wave. No issues so far.
    When I approach a cyclist from the rear, I stay back a couple of car lengths until it is safe to pass, then move over the full width of the lane to pass. No issues so far.
    If I see a cyclist approaching that I recognize and want to talk with, we stop and stay on opposite sides of the road to talk.

  2. Quentin

    Most of my riding is solo. If it’s not, it involves someone who already lives under the same roof with me. In either case, a mask seems unnecessary, so I don’t wear one while riding. My riding is mostly on gravel farm roads. I have not yet had to pass or be passed by another rider, so I have not given any thought to how to handle that.

  3. Dan Murphy

    I’m riding alone – period. I’ve politely declined invitations to ride and people understand.

    Riding well outside Boston (outside I-495), encounters with others is minimal during a 1-2 hour ride, and I’ll swing way wide when it happens. Yes, it’s nice that traffic is almost non-existent, but eerie at the same time.

    The chances of virus transmittal from one person to another while outside out here in the way-burbs is so small, that if you’re concerned about it, you might also want to be worried about meteorites. When inside stores, the mask goes on out of respect for the workers.

    Be safe.

  4. Michael

    Yes, riding alone. Mostly on dirt roads and trails. I was wearing a buff when it was cooler and would pull it up over my nose when I saw someone around, just to cut down on the droplets. Since last week, it has become shorts weather and it is too hot for a buff around my neck, so I try to ride early and where there are few people. Since I have yet to encounter a walker wearing a mask, I guess I am less concerned than I might be.

  5. MikeG

    Riding alone, or around the neighborhood with family members. More people out walking, running, riding, and hiking than I have ever seen before. The State of AZ may collectively losing weight during the pandemic! Our restrictions are pretty light, and the virus impact has been less than other areas. Saw a group of ladies jogging along the canal path together and was surprised. Thursday morning I saw a group of roadies together on a crowded multi use path and was more surprised and annoyed as they were pushing the pace on a crowded path with lots of families with kids and dogs – just gives us a bad reputation. I have seen very few people wearing masks that are riding, jogging, etc. Maybe we are in denial due to the lack of major impact. I’m not wearing a mask – not sure you could without passing out here in AZ in May!

  6. AG

    In L.A. the roads used by cyclists are now quite crowded (especially on the weekends), so I wear a buff over my mouth and nose. Is this the new-normal? I very much hope not. For a respite I try to get on the dirt roads as much as possible where I feel it is easier to keep a distance from hikers and other cyclists (we have a lot of double-track fire roads in the hills). Unfortunately, we are not blessed with miles of quiet country roads within riding distance of our city neighborhoods, and the city sprawls forever, so most people are wearing masks of some sort because of the density of people exercising. But for now I am riding either solo, with my wife or on the trainer. Staying optimistic while looking forward to the days of meeting up with my friends for rides followed by cold beer.

  7. Dan Murphy

    I thought of something after my last post.

    We have a convertible. Would we be pressured to wear a mask while driving with the top down? Seriously.

  8. AB

    Also riding alone (or Zwifting). Some towns in the Boston area are beginning to mandate masks when out in public including running and cycling alright it’s far from universal. My experience on the roads had been positive so far with only one person blowing past me without notice or space.

  9. Jay

    Riding alone, but that has been my normal for a long time. I don’t wear a mask. I rarely encounter any other humans on most of my routes. When I do I steer a wide berth. I will do some group rides when they start to happen again, although, solo is just fine until that takes place.

  10. Stephen Barner

    If you like your partner and want to ride with someone, buy a tandem. They’re fun, fast, and you’re as clase as you can get on bikes.
    I can’t imagine wearing a mask on a bike. I’ll even avoid balaclavas until it gets down around 0F (or is it 00001111?)
    Luckily, Vermont has flat lined innterms of new cases, so the risk of infection apears to be quite low. I’ve seen a lot more bike traffic these days, especially on dirt road.

  11. Jeff vdD

    Boston area for me (inside 128). My team has had a “no group rides (except people from the same household)” rule since USAC issued that decree. Rule applies regardless of surface and spacing. And I’ve followed the rule.

    I’ve started riding with a buff. Up until now, I’ve pulled it up when nearing others, otherwise kept it down. Towns starting to say to keep it up all the time–I’ll do that in town and on the roads, probably not in the woods. My buff is thin, breathable, and therefore probably almost entirely cosmetic.

    Overall, I’m riding less distance, but other than not doing my 1-mile commute each way 2x/day, not fewer rides.

  12. Dave

    Solo rides only for me, no mask. I’m a diabetic so I stay away from everyone on the road and have had to tell some over-eager cyclists that catch me that I need space.

    I give plenty of clearance to other riders and people on the road like walkers and runners. Cars have largely disappeared but when I do encounter them, they are much more patient. For example, a runner is headed my way and I look back to see if there is traffic and if so make eye contact with the driver and then pull to the middle of the road to give the runner as much clearance as possible. The cars just patiently wait.

  13. Neil Winkelmann

    I’ve been riding only solo for 7 or 8 weeks. All of it on the road. I give pedestrians and other cyclists a very wide berth. I don’t stop, and I don’t touch anything except my handlebars. No mask.

    Getting in 2 hours a day as a routine (lots of climbing). A bit longer on the weekends, but I keep it all local. No 8-hour epics for the time being. I’m lucky to have very quiet and pleasant streets here, as well as a climb to a ski-area, that is currently closed to cars, within 10km of my place. I’ve now ridden that climb 28 times this year. It’s almost exactly 1000m of vertical from my place to the top of the main steep section.

    The riding has been fine, and it’s keeping me somewhat sane, but I’ve not seen a friend, other than in (socially distant) passing in as long as I can remember, it seems.

  14. TominAlbany

    Riding alone. ON roads for most part. Solo always. No mask.
    When on trails, I don’t go on nice days when lots of people will be out. Its for the unpleasant days when I an have them to myself.

    Helped a young (just out of college) rider fix a flat the other day. He’d forgotten his tire levers. So, I loaned him mine. We stood at a distance from each other. I had full-finger gloves on. I still felt awkward and uncomfortable even though I feel like I did the right thing.

    What a time…

    1. Jeff vdD

      When it’s a nice day, I hit the trails super-early to avoid the crowds. It’s only in part out of consideration for them–mostly it’s out of consideration for me (and the enjoyment I get out of the ride)! [grin]

  15. Parker

    Most of my routes have a rest stop. Before this crisis, several involved a store selling snacks and Gatorade. Now, all are done under a friendly tree with water and half a Met-Rx bar. I’ll continue being extra careful until there’s a vaccine or a therapy because my wife’s immune system was weakened several years ago by cancer.

  16. David A

    Solo rides or indoors on trainer. Mainly fat burning or cardio range effort. If I ride outside I use a neck gator up around nose and mouth if I encounter anyone. 1-2hrs max riding time.

  17. Donovan

    All solo rides, road, plenty of country roads around where I live, Portland, OR, metro. I carry three water bottles and a small water filter for rides over 40 miles as water isn’t available except in small grocery stores. I don’t ride with a mask, don’t ride on multiuse paths and try to pass a full lane width if possible. Have started stopping at old rural cemeteries for breaks, peace and quiet when all the public parks are closed. One positive aspect is that some busy scenic roads I have avoided in the past have considerably less traffic, I have ventured on some of these and have been pleasantly surprised.

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