Guide to Cycling During a Pandemic

Whether you're new to cycling or getting back in the groove, riding a bike is a great way to exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Riding a bike is always a good idea. That was true before COVID, and it is especially true now.
Why? Because cycling is both escape and finding oneself, both freedom and introspection.

On two wheels, as you fly past stationary objects, buildings, people, trees, around corners and unknown places, you get distance from not only where you started, but also the immobility of isolation. Even if your only option is to ride in the virtual world via Zwift, the above still applies.

We need to practice staying at home, social distancing, and restraint to beat this pandemic — that much is certain. But, we also need some form of release during these strange days , and perhaps no other exercise can provide it like cycling does.

As you spin the pedals in time with your breath, you expend energy on a scale that can't be reproduced by walking or lifting weights. You become like the sun, burning energy, and after being bathed in sweat, the feeling of purity is incomparable.

As such, bike sales have gone through the roof while people turn to bikes for exercise whether out on the road (where possible to do so), or at home on the trainer. Is cycling during COVID-19
possible? Is it even safe?

Let's take these questions one at a time as we guide you through riding during these most remarkable times.

Are bike shops still open?

If you're new to cycling, then there's a good chance you don't have a bike yet. If you already do own one but are getting back into the swing of things, then you probably need to fix yours up before hitting the road.

In either case, a bike shop has much of what you need, but that will probably require an in-person visit and some social interaction — both of which are currently less than ideal. Sure, you can buy a new bike or some bike parts online, but so much of the bike-buying process is
contingent on trying them out to see what fits, what is comfortable, etc.

Not to mention if you need to repair your old bike, getting a chain or 10-speed cassette online won't help much if you don't know how to install those parts at home.

The good news is your local bike shop is probably still open as in most countries they have been deemed essential services . Before turning to an online bike retailer, try giving your local shop a call to see what their protocol is. They should be practicing strict social distancing measures and disinfect bikes before and after you try one out.

If you don't feel comfortable with the fitting process, worry not — you can get a pretty accurate size assessment over the phone based on your height, inseam, flexibility, and torso length. As long as you can sort these details out yourself at home and relay them to your local bike retailer, then most of the process can be done remotely.

Expect a longer than usual wait for bike repairs, though. More people are riding than ever, causing some shops to experience business levels higher than those around popular holidays and Black Friday sales.

Riding outside vs. indoors, which is better?

With your bike situation sorted out, the next step is to get riding. Depending on where you're located it might not be possible to ride a bike outdoors. If that's the case, the good news is that indoor riding options are fun and plentiful, but more on that later.

Riding outside is incredible, there's no doubt. After excessive time spent indoors looking at screens like the one in front of you now, getting some wind in your face and tanning time via a warm sun is incomparable.

If you choose to start riding outside, then here are a few tips for safely cycling during the pandemic. For those riding indoors, there's plenty of ways to make the experience social and fun.

Ride with extra caution

You know who is more busy than your local bike shop these days? The local hospital.

Moreover, if you're virus-free, then you don't want to change that with an unnecessary trip to the hospital over an avoidable bike crash.

So, don't try for that downhill Strava segment now or take your eyes off the road to check your phone. Stay within your abilities — which is just another way of saying to ride safely. With hospitals as overloaded as they are, you not only protect yourself by practicing extra caution, but other people who really need the hospital bed now.

Practice social distancing while riding

In the cycling portion of a triathlon race, riders aren't allowed to draft (closely follow another rider) within 7 meters of the rider in front. The pandemic situation has turned us all into triathletes, as riding closely with other rides has become a big don't do.

As tempting as it might be to ride closely with another person, whether it's someone you know or not, it's best to practice social distancing while cycling just as you would in any other scenario. However, if riding alone doesn't sound appealing, try to find a covid buddy — an exclusive friend to partner with that will agree to only ride with you.

Ways to boost indoor cycling

If you can't ride outside because of lockdown restrictions or you simply don't think it is safe in your area, then worry not — there are amazing options for getting your spin on indoors.

As the internet teaches us time and time again, it's entirely possible to be alone yet together at the same time. Indoor cycling apps like Zwift and TrainerRoad have become immensely popular ways to virtually transport yourself from the indoor trainer to a global peloton.

In fact, Zwift has become required riding for not only amateurs, but pros as well. The cancellation of the WorldTour season has given a major bump to pro Zwift racing and virtual bike racing in general.

If bike racing isn't your thing but added challenge is, then there are front-wheel risers and other bike trainer tools for simulating the experience of riding uphill or into a headwind.

Most importantly, just ride

There is no better or worse when it comes to questions of indoor or outdoor riding. Right now, all that matters is to just get on a bike and pedal. It's easy to become unmotivated when there are extra steps involved in what used to be so simple only months ago.

But, we are all in this together, and everyone is adapting just as you are. So, don't let a few changes to the way we exercise keep you from moving. As crucial as social distancing, staying home, and other measures are, they are only effective when we maintain both physical and
mental well-being.

Riding a bike keeps us healthy, and these days, health is the most valuable currency of all.



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