Cycling and Coronavirus Pandemic — Tips and Precautions to Follow
Coronavirus has come as an unpleasant surprise to the entire planet. Governments around the world are still learning how to cope with the new situation and how to control it.
As a result, there are still many unanswered questions and many misconceptions regarding the new virus. This also includes questions from cyclists about whether or not it is safe to go out and ride.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about coronavirus and cycling, including official facts, the main do’s and don’ts, and measures of precaution
I’ll update it daily as new information emerges so stay tuned.
Coronavirus Symptoms and Signs of Infection
The symptoms of coronavirus infection are not the same in all individuals. The initial symptoms are similar to the ones caused by the seasonal flu, but they can get more serious later on.
Symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the age and the overall health of the person. The most common symptoms include:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
Older and immunocompromised individuals may develop more serious symptoms and complications, such as:
- Difficulty breathing
If you have any of these symptoms and you have reasons to doubt you’ve been exposed to coronavirus, isolate yourself and call your doctor.
How Does Coronavirus Spread?
Since Covid-19 is a new virus, scientists are still not 100% certain how it spreads. However, what we know for sure is that it spreads with cough droplets produced when we either cough or sneeze.
The virus can enter the human body through the mouth, nose, or eyes, which is why it is extremely important to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
The virus most commonly spreads through direct contact between two people. To avoid getting infected, avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses.
However, coronavirus can also survive on objects and surfaces for up to 3 days, if an infected person has coughed or sneezed in their vicinity.
Can Symptomless People Spread the Infection?
Yes, even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still be infected and spread coronavirus to other people.
The incubation period (the period between getting infected and developing first signs of disease) can be as long as 14 days. During all that time, the virus is present in your respiratory droplets.
Therefore, if you have reasons to believe you’re infected, it’s best to self-isolate, pay attention to your symptoms, and test if possible.
Is Riding Outdoors Safe Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic?
Depending on how and where you do it, cycling outdoors can be both a good and a bad idea during the coronavirus pandemic. Generally speaking, riding a bicycle is a great way to boost your immune system, and improve your health and overall wellbeing.
I absolutely recommend going out for a ride unless there’s a limitation on transport in your area imposed by the government.
If you choose to go for a spin, do it in a remote area without many people and other cyclists. Even though group rides and races are fun, you should avoid these at all costs. Ride alone and keep your distance if run into other riders and friends.
UCI Coronavirus: Measures and Recommendations
In line with the newest assessments and recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has decided to take certain measures to protect professional cyclists and limit the spread of the virus.
The measures taken by the UCI include:
- Canceling cycling events on the UCI International Calendar. All official cycling events in areas identified at risk by the WHO are canceled.
- Suspension of all classifications for all events on the UCI International Calendar. Starting from 15 March 2020 and until further notice (but at least until 3 April 2020).
- Stopping the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic qualification period. UCI has asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to stop the qualification period retroactively from 3 March 2020.
As you can see, the UCI is not taking the coronavirus situation for granted and is doing all it can to protect the athletes, preserve sporting equity, and limiting the spread of the virus.
Can Riding a Bicycle Boost Your Immune System?
As I have mentioned above, riding a bicycle is known to improve the immune system’s response to pathogens. However, this is only true for mild to moderate exercising.
Continuous strenuous exercise is actually known to diminish the strength of the immune system. According to a study conducted in Belgium, “After strenuous exercise, athletes pass through a period of impaired immune resistance.”
Therefore, if you choose to go for a ride, make sure not to exhaust yourself too much. Moderate cycling to retain your level of fitness is perfectly fine. On the other hand, trying to beat personal records amid the coronavirus pandemic seems to be a bad idea.
Commuting by Bicycle Is on the Rise in Urban Areas
Social distancing and self-isolation are the best ways of slowing down the spread of coronavirus, according to WHO. That’s why many people who still need to go to work avoid public transportation and turn to cycling instead.
Numerous urban areas are seeing an increase of cyclists on the streets, such as the bicycling boom in New York City.
If you cannot work from home and still have to clock in at work, riding a bicycle is a fantastic way to stay away from crowds that are a standard occurrence in subways and on trains.
What NOT to Do If You Go for a Ride
The World Health Organization recommends self-isolation and social distancing as the two most important weapons against the spread of coronavirus.
If you decide to go for a ride, here are some things you should avoid doing to protect yourself and other people around you.
Avoid Crowded Places
You should avoid crowded places at all costs. During the pandemic try not to go to places such as cafes, bars, cinemas, malls, and so on. Coronavirus spreads via direct contact, through cough droplets, so keep your distance from other people.
If you’re planning to purchase some cycling gear, instead of going to a local bike shop, consider shopping online and having the products delivered to your home.
Steer Clear of Busy Cycling Lanes
Cycling lanes are a good way to cycle in urban areas and stay safe. However, that’s not true if you’re trying to avoid being exposed to the virus.
You should stay away from busy cycling lanes and choose more remote areas and bike paths instead.
If someone coughs, sneezes, or spits in your vicinity while on a cycling lane, you risk getting infected.
Some evidence shows that coronavirus can be spread by spitting as well, as it can be found in spit mixed with mucus from the lungs. Therefore, avoid spitting at all costs when riding in frequent areas.
Spitting when cycling is gross anyways and most people frown upon it when they encounter it — including myself!
Cancel Group Rides
As you can see above, the UCI has canceled all official cycling events due to coronavirus risks. Going on a group ride is a big risk that should be avoided as well.
The best thing you can do for your cycling friends is to ride individually. If someone coughs or sneezes on a group ride, you risk becoming infected, and vice versa.
Use Shared Bikes with Caution
If your city has a bike-sharing system, you can continue using it, but you should do it with caution. If the person who used the bike before you were infected and they sneezed or coughed over the handlebar, you could potentially get infected.
Therefore, I recommend wiping the handlebar and the saddle clean with disinfectant before riding and not touching your face until you wash your hands thoroughly after finishing the ride.
Quarantined? Activities to Do Instead of Cycling
If you live in an area where transportation is limited and you’re required to stay at home, there are still plenty of things to do to stay in shape and not die from boredom.
Here are some recommendations!
1. Strength Training
Let’s admit it, most cyclists don’t get enough strength training. I’m guilty of this cycling sin as well. Therefore, this is the perfect time to focus on some muscle imbalances you have and work towards solving them.
I recommend focusing on your posterior chain, including hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, as these are areas that are usually weak in cyclists. Getting them strong will also help you prevent injuries in the future.
2. Core Training
Core training is another thing most cyclists don’t think enough about. A strong core can help you become a better, faster, and stronger cyclist, and it also makes you less susceptible to injuries.
YouTube is a great place to start. You can find plenty of home workouts and routines, suitable for beginners and experts.
3. Indoor Trainers and Rollers
Even if you can’t go outside, you can still do some riding indoors if you have a trainer or rollers. This is a fantastic way to do a quick and efficient cycling workout and retain your fitness levels.
If you have a high-end trainer compatible with Zwift, you can do virtual group rides with your friends and have fun without risking a coronavirus infection.
Are there some books that you’ve been wanting to read for a while but you didn’t have time to do it? Now’s your chance.
If you don’t have anything that you find interesting, you can find some for free on Project Gutenberg, or you can buy some.
I recommend avoiding libraries and bookstores and shopping ebooks or audiobooks online instead.
Movies and TV Shows
Make the best of social distancing by using the free time you have to watch some awesome movies or TV shows. We usually don’t have enough free time to catch up with our favorite titles, but now we can finally do it.
If you want to spend your time more constructively, you can watch some documentaries and learn a few new things.
What do you do to stay healthy while cycling nowadays and to maintain your level of fitness? Share some ideas with us and let us know more about your opinions in the comments below!