Cycling in the Age of COVID-19

Disclaimer: I have already rewritten this post several times, since news and recommendations are changing so quickly.  Please keep that in mind when reading and of course any comments or suggestions made herein should be taken with a grain of salt as things continue to change.

Everywhere you look is news of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, and its scope as well as the news and concerns surrounding it are truly changing by the minute.  Just over the past couple of days, it is having more effect on cycling and events, so I thought I would compile a quick rundown of where things stand at the moment, as well as other thoughts on how cycling is, and will be, affected.

USA Cycling just made the following announcement:  “Due to the latest data on COVID-19’s spread and the healthcare system’s ability to manage this crisis, USA Cycling is recommending cancellation of all sanctioned events immediately and calling on all race and event directors, clubs, coaches, athletes, and members to postpone or cancel all scheduled races and events immediately. This includes any gatherings such as group rides, in-person group meetings, etc.”

At the moment of this writing, a number of cycling events have already been cancelled and, unfortunately, there will certainly be more to come.  As recently announced by the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado (BRAC), the following races have been cancelled:

  • Pueblo Classic (both Saturday and Sunday) – March 14th and 15th
  • Louisville Criterium – Saturday, March 21
  • Ore Digger TT – Saturday, March 28
  • CSU Cobb Lake RR – Saturday, April 4
  • CSU Oval Criterium – Sunday, April 5

Of course, this is unfortunate news for those of us who enjoy racing or the camaraderie of organized event rides. Keep in mind, however, that our beloved sport generally lends itself very well to “social distancing” – other than organized events and group rides.  So even though some events have been cancelled, and more are certain to follow, get out and ride.

The risks, and things to be aware of:

  • For now, avoid organized gatherings and events – though cancellations will probably make this task rather inevitable.
  • Group rides – they are a typically great way to train and, depending on the pace of the ride, enjoy casual socializing or, at the other extreme, inflict pain upon your friends.  However, now is not the time to ride in groups of any significant size, given the typical pre- and pos-ride gatherings as well as the rider proximity when rotating through pacelines.
  • Even if you decided to ride with a small group of people and make a point of keeping a bit of distance, be sure to bring what you need to be self-sufficient. Refrain from passing tools back and forth, don’t share nutrition, and certainly DO NOT SHARE WATER BOTTLES.  Also, do away with the high-fives and post-ride hugs, if that is your thing.  Oh yeah – and hopefully it goes without saying that you need to mindful of your rolling “farmer’s blows” (common sense and courtesy here, of course).

The benefits:

  • Studies show that moderate exercise boosts your immune system. The flip side of this is that too much intense exercise can actually decrease your short-term immune function as you recover – so keep this in mind.
  • Stress reduces immune function. Speaking very personally, riding my bike is probably the most effective stress reliever I know of.
  • Commute on your bike and avoid public transportation. Though I am normally a fan of public transportation from an environmental-friendliness perspective, now is not the time.  However, bicycle commuting remains great for the environment and for you – so get out there.

On another note, as long as you are going to keep riding – and I hope you do – your bike is going to need periodic servicing.  Keep in mind that current thinking is that the virus can survive on hard surfaces (like a bike frame) for up to three days, so please ask your preferred bike shop what they are doing to minimize possible contamination and spread of the disease.  As the franchise owner of a fleet of mobile bike shops, I have given a lot of thought to how we can help reduce fears and risks of exposure, while continuing to help people get out and ride.  For this reason, we have reviewed and made a few changes to our policies, in order to keep our customers’ bikes working their best while also being responsible and mindful of the safety of the public, our customers, and our mechanics.

By definition, our business model dictates that we come to our customers at the location of their choice, rather than having them come to us.  The founding concept was of course to make it as easy and convenient as possible for our customers to get their bikes serviced.  This model also happens to lend itself well to minimizing exposure of our customers – especially with a few key adjustments that we have made from our normal operating procedures.  For instance, we are temporarily asking customers to not step up and join us in our mobile shops – there just isn’t enough space for us to do our job and also maintain recommended distancing.  Our mechanics will always wear gloves when working on any bike, and will change those gloves and disinfect their hands between each and every service. As much as we love the personal interaction with our customers, it goes without saying that we will not be reaching out to shake hands in the near future.  We are also able to perform each service without having direct contact with our customer.  The bike can be left for us or handed off at a distance, and we will communicate any concerns and recommendations via text, over the phone, or at a safe distance from inside to outside of the van.  For payment, we are asking customers to refrain from using cash or checks – cards only.  We can either manually enter credit card information for our customers, or they can use the chip readers so we do not have to touch the cards at all.  Rather than having our customers sign our tablets with a finger, we are providing stylets, which we will sterilize between each customer.  Every little step helps.

The only thing we know about this pandemic is that its impact on our daily lives will continue to evolve.  It might have already affected an event or events that you are training for – and if it hasn’t yet, it very well might in the future.  It doesn’t have to keep you from riding, though. Be mindful and responsible to yourself and others, but get out and ride.


Trent Newcomer is a veterinarian and the franchise owner of Velofix Colorado, a mobile bike shop operation that serves the Front Range, from Fort Collins to the entire Denver metro area. Book a bike service appointment and have them roll up to your home or business at velofix.com

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