Biking Safely

Biking Safely

Local bike shops are seeing an uptick in sales and repairs during coronavirus outbreak.

Citizens throughout the country are hopping on bikes as a way to ward off cabin fever, business at local bike shops is booming, and that boom doesn’t seem to be letting up. Some bike shops have even sold out of certain models and in general their total inventory is down 60%. Bike repairs, modifications, and improvements are also up.

At this time, at-home workouts are still your best bet for keeping up your fitness routine and helping to ensure your own health and the health of those around you. Many closed gyms are offering free online streaming of their workouts.
Stationary bikes are an option. There are many manufacturers. Three of the top brands are Pelaton, NordicTrack, Escalon. They also offer fitness membership through on line communities.
Yet, no matter where you sweat, you should remember to wash your hands regularly, especially after your workout and wipe down all equipment when you are done using it, even at home.

A Brief Question and Answer Session

An Outside Biker asks, ‘Should I wear a mask out on solo rides?’

They may not be necessary when out for solo exercise, however, you may be in a place you encounter someone else, so be prepared to cover up. There is no advantage to wearing a face covering if you are not going to be near people at all. It is recommended that you take a face covering with you when exercising outside.

CDC (www.cdc.gov) guidelines have recently been updated to recommend “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) to help reduce the spread of the virus between people interacting in close proximity (Guidelines are rapidly evolving).

Before those updates, some state governments, like those in California www.cdph.ca.gov and Pennsylvania www.pa.gov, began suggesting that everyone wear cloth face coverings when they go out in public for essential activities in order to help prevent those that are asymptomatic from spreading the disease. These announcements mean to athletes, and to everyone, that the situation we are in is very serious. Each of us need to consider the consequences of our individual actions on the community around us.

Understanding Face Coverings

Face coverings do two possible things—they contain spread from the ill and prevent inhalation in the healthy. As the girl from the Czech Republic training video says, “I protect you, you protect me.” It is just that simple.

a) Some state guidelines read that masks “should not be worn damp or when wet from spit or mucus,”

b) Face coverings should be removed a certain way. Taking a mask on and off incorrectly can be risky and increase your hand-to-mouth exposure. You should take off the mask with the elastic from your ears and then fold it with the outside cloth together. Even though you are breathing into the mask the interior is considered the clean side. The external side is considered contaminated.

c) Wash cloth face coverings nightly. At the end of each day, using soap and hot water hand wash the cloth, scrubbing the sides together and rinsing well with hot water. Hang to air dry. By morning you can use it again.

Additional Precautions

However, wearing a cloth face covering is not a substitute for hand washing, physical distancing, or remaining at home when ill.

1. Maintaining at least a six-foot distance from others will help the most in cutting down exposure to droplets being spread to others due to heavy breathing.
2. Avoid crowded areas, even if you get to your regular route and there are other people there, you should find a different place to go for the safety of everyone.
3. Avoid touching your face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
4. Avoid touching buttons in high traffic areas, such as elevators and traffic lights – use your elblow, sleeved arm, or gloves.
5. Stay home, especially if you are ill. Should you believe symptoms may be coronavirus, get to a local test site as soon as possible.
6. Washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and hot water whenever exposed.
This virus is highly contagious and transmissible, and it appears we cannot be too careful.
Check your local government recommendations for guidance. (You can find a directory of state health departments on the internet. www.usa.gov/state-health.

Can you ride outside during a shelter-in-place mandate?

Effective March 19, residents of the state of California were ordered to shelter in place until further notice, meaning everyone is to stay inside their homes and away from others as much as possible. However, as outlined in the directive first put in place in San Francisco, for example, most shelter-in-place mandates allow for people to go outside and engage in solo outdoor activity, such as riding, walking, and hiking, as long as people practice safe social distancing (stay at least six feet apart), do not gather in groups, and do not go out if they are feeling sick.

Other states, including New York, New Jersey, and Illinois have statewide mandates, and other cities and counties, including San Miguel County in Colorado, Blaine County in Idaho, and Athens-Clarke County in Georgia have implemented similar measures.
If you are an essential worker or need to get outside for exercise, cycling is encouraged, according to a statement from the European Regional Office for the World Health Organization, (WHO).

Gyms in California are currently closed. Overall, be sure to check your local public health recommendations and the current health mandates in your area, found on your state and local government website before heading anywhere for a workout.

Should you avoid riding in groups?

Yes. Even mountain bike rides, where you’re typically farther apart and single file, should be done solo as to cut down on the risk of an asymptomatic rider spreading the virus to others.

Sneezes or coughs, droplets get onto objects that people touch, and then people touch their face. The best plan for riding right now is to go out and ride solo and enjoy the outdoors, in non-crowded areas. And, try timing your rides for when you know your route will be less crowded.

Getting in 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to brisk activity can help your immune system (www.runnersworld.com) keep viruses at bay. Be sure you know what’s going on in your area and if there are any restrictions or mandatory self-quarantines. And, if you’re sick or at-risk of spreading the virus, you shouldn’t go out.

“If you do have flu or coronavirus, or a fever, beware. Sick people think wrongly they can ‘exercise the virus out of the system’ or ‘sweat it out,’ that’s a myth. It’s actually the opposite, and you can wear your immune system down.”

To disinfect clothing, wash it in hot water and use the dryer’s high setting.

Should I avoid touching things outside?

Though it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, according to the CDC. However, there could be a problem if someone coughs into his or her hand immediately before touching a traffic button, and then you touch the traffic button after them.

In general, the CDC recommends avoiding high-touch surfaces, like elevators and doors, so if possible avoid touching traffic buttons as well. If you must touch the traffic button, do not touch your face after. Even better? Use a glove (then avoid touching your face), sleeve, or elbow.

Can coronavirus be spread through sweat?

According to the CDC, transmission of the coronavirus happens between people who are in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets, produced through a cough or sneeze—not sweat.

Cyclists should be cautious and avoid long, intense rides or workouts right now until we get through all this. Don’t overdo it. Be worried more about health than fitness.

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