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Bike Riding and Social Distancing

Life in the Bike Lane

Tom Frady

I don’t have to tell you five loyal readers about all the confusion surrounding COVID19. I have edited this column a number of times over the last few days as new information and advice comes available. No, I don’t always feverishly (poor choice of words, right now) type out a bunch of words right up to my deadline.

For the avid cyclists, it is frustrating to not be on the road as much as usual, riding with your group or participating in races during this time.

Medical experts encourage a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and fresh air amid shelter-in-place directives. My latest read on what is being allowed are activities such as walking, running and cycling, not in large groups and, of course, follow the social distancing rules. Alexei Wagner, of the Stanford Department of Emergency Medicine says,

“Anything anyone can do to help optimize their health in the next weeks to months could potentially help them if they got infected by the Coronavirus.”

Sunshine and exercise keep you healthy and help reduce anxiety, boredom and will help maintain the health of your 401(k) (I made up that last one).

The Lincoln Hills Cyclists have officially canceled the thrice weekly rides. Our groups tend to have anywhere from 6 to 15 riders at a time and usually include a pastry stop in the middle.

An informal “let’s go for a ride” network has developed via e-mails and texts. We are riding in smaller groups. I have been impressed with how well we do Social Distancing. Five riders stretched out over a quarter mile! Most of the Lincoln Hills riders are over 65, in good health and plan to stay that way. “That way” being both over 65 and in good health.

We are told to stay out of crowded spaces. Have you been on Ayers Holmes? No crowds there. We seldom have any interaction the pubic and don’t have much opportunity to touch handrails, door knobs or other potentially “dirty” surfaces. I did pick up a snake the other day, but he assured me he had just washed his hands.

We have had the conversation wondering if the 6 foot social distance is enough when riding. According to Bicycling Magazine, a qualified yes. “It should be” the writer says, but also suggests this might be the time to get out for that solo ride. We are staying farther apart than 6 feet. The challenge can be at stop lights, but if we head north and east, there aren’t many of them.

If you’re riding with others, be careful about your interactions, like sharing tools and helping with mechanical problems or flats. Carry some antiseptic wipes with you and use them. I have been wiping down my bike after rides. And I wear a clean pair of bike gloves each ride. Also, this is the time to be very careful. You don’t want to go to the hospital and use up valuable resources.

I have set up my old bike on a trainer in the garage (all avid cyclists have at least one old bike), and ride for one YouTube episode of Gunsmoke. Only two people got shot in the last one. Riding your old bike on a trainer in the garage is boring.

I encourage you all to get out, carefully, for some sort of exercise when possible. It is really unclear how long this will all last, but you don’t want to be in the house for the entire time. You might feel like you have to start painting the kitchen.

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