UPDATED! The Singletrack Guide To Riding During COVID-19

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Thinking of riding during COVID-19? Read this first.

UPDATED March 23rd 8:45pm

Boris Johnson has announced new sweeping restrictions on the public that include only leaving the house for very limited purposes like vital shopping or once daily exercise.

The limit on exercise does include cycling but with very tight restrictions.

  • You can ride only once per day
  • You must ride alone or only with someone you live with
  • Infringements will be prosecuted by the police with fines
  • You MUST maintain social distancing of at least 2m AT ALL TIMES

For the time being, we’re OK to get out and ride our bikes in the UK. That could change, and you should always follow the latest government guidance wherever you are. In fact, we’d encourage you to go a step further than the government guidance – if the rules say stay 6ft apart, why not make it more? There’s no penalty to caution.

North Downs Way Hannah Stock Riding During COVID-19
Please enjoy responsibly

Here’s our guide to being the most responsible mountain biker you can be while riding during the coronavirus outbreak.

1 – Ride alone and local

Keep riding, while you can, but do it on your own, or in a pair at a distance from one another, and only if you can ride from your door. Stay local. See the update March 23rd: Exercise outdoors (includes cycling) limited to once per day – Either alone or with fellow household members only.

2 – Keep your distance

Keep your distance on the trails. If you see you are catching up another rider or worse, a group, then hold back. Put the brakes on and wait until they are far away. You can get all social again when the virus has gone. Riding during COVID-19 means this is your time to be alone. Remember to stay well clear of other trail users like walkers too – and dogs.

3 – No sharing

Don’t share – Keep your kit to yourself and don’t lend it out. Don’t car share on the way to the trails – if you need to get in a car, that’s unnecessary travel, which is out.

4 – Don’t go big

Do hone your skills, but don’t go crazy. Now is the time to learn the perfect wheelie or to true your own wheels. Now is NOT the time to risk a trip to A&E so keep away from the big jumps and drops.

5 – Keep sniffles inside

If you have the sniffles, even if you are convinced it’s just a cold, don’t go out. And definitely no snot rockets – that stuff will travel for miles in the wind.

6 – Tell someone

Tell someone where you are going and stick to the plan. No detours. This is not a time for resources to be spent on a search and rescue.

7 – Ride inside too

There’s no shame in dusting off that turbo and giving it a spin in front of the TV while streaming old films like Roam. But only for the lock down. Once we get the all clear you owe it to yourself to pack it away and never talk of it again.

8 – Behave yourself

Challenge poor behaviour. The better ‘behaved’ we seem to be, the less chance there is we’ll be made to stop riding.

chipps calderdale todmorden winter clouds Riding During COVID-19
This kind of thing will get us banned. Don’t do it, please.

MTB Riding During COVID-19 Q&A

Can I still ride my bike during the Corona virus lockdown?

For the time being, we’re OK to get out and ride our bikes in the UK, providing it doesn’t involve unnecessary travel (don’t drive anywhere) and ONLY once per day and ride alone. That could change, and you should always follow the latest government guidance wherever you are. In fact, we’d encourage you to go a step further than the government guidance – if the rules say stay 6ft apart, why not make it more? There’s no penalty to caution.

Can I ride with others during the lockdown?

No – for now keep it solo and minimise any chances of spreading the virus – even if you and your mates feel perfectly well you could still be a carrier.

Where can I ride?

The countryside is not (yet) closed and it’s very big, which means you can keep your distance from others easily – but remember people still touch things like gates in the country. Bike parks are busy places so better to stay away. And only ride anywhere you can get to from your door, don’t travel to the countryside, stay local.

This article was edited to make clearer the need to avoid unnecessary travel.

Comments (14)

    I decided to put my DH and enduro bikes away for the next few months as I would feel guilty as hell walking into A&E after crashing.

    Don’t forget to wear gloves and be careful with gates, etc. Words from the Pennine Ranger the other day: https://www.instagram.com/p/B99XK0Ul2C0/

    “It took me 30 minutes to fix this gate, in that time 8 people used this gate. No one used gloves and all grabbed the same part of the handle
    When you go for a ride,walk,jog,climb,swim PLEASE take hand gel with you.
    When you climb the stile, open the gate, sit on the bench, rest on the fence PLEASE clean your hands after.
    This virus is stubborn it can last in the air for hours and on surfaces for several. Social isolation means just that.
    Let’s try and break the cycle of this stubborn little beggar inside and outside!”

    All good stuff. Except –
    It would be wiser to encourage people NOT to travel to bike parks. (and not tell people whuch are open! That encourages travel. You know most are travelling 100+ miles to go there. That’s hardly following Gov advice to limit travel to what’s essential. It encourages the spread not discourages.
    Time to ride from home. And if you can’t? Well learn to. Or ride from home and just accept you’re not going to gnarly areas for a bit.

    I don’t want eeejits spoiling it so we’re all banned from even riding to tje end of the lane and back.

    Thanks for the guide. Current government advice (2020-03-21) doesn’t ask folks to isolate themselves unless they’re in a high risk group or have signs of infection.

    It does ask folks to practice ‘social distancing’ and you’ve described steps for that well.

    From the uk gov website https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus :
    “ Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

    They are to:

    Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
    Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
    Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information
    Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
    Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
    Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
    Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is practicable.”

    Seems like being outside, far from others, and not using public transport to get there is in line with today’s guidance.

    Well done for giving riders more clarity on this. This situation is rapidly evolving and hopefully all of us will realise this is the socially responsible thing to do. It is going to be tough but the sooner we do this the sooner this will be over and get back to reality.
    On another note do springer spaniels make good trail dogs?

    I meant back normality but reality may not be so far off…

    Thanks for the info folks. Lots of things to think about and habits to change. Stay safe.

    Good info……except (for me) the bit about learning the perfect wheelie. I have only been to hospital twice due to my bike in several decades of riding…both incidents involved wheelies….I am not good at wheelies…..I fear that no amount of honing will help … 🙂

    Some great advice, many thanks STW

    If I manage to get out, it’ll be riding my Slash down the canal 🙂

    Still need the bits to finish the wheels for my hardtail!

    So all the d1ckheads travelling away from home and not keeping apart have fecked it for the rest of us.

    Riding from your door is currently OK, so I will continue to do so.

    I need to keep trim for the future days, when I will go back to Gisburn and see how the trails have recovered. Looking forward to that happy time.

    This is the Fell Running association’s advice – at least one of the signatories is also a mountain biker.

    Advice/plea to Fell Runners: tread carefully.
    Now more than ever is the time to think about others and yourself. We can all help save lives by thinking and being considerate. Running is important for many of us, especially now the UK is in lock-down. This is our chance as a community to show leadership, compassion and maintain and build our reputation as responsible outdoor users.
    Many of us are already working overtime in the NHS and other key roles across the country. We ask you please to read and follow this advice:
    Run for sanity not peak performance – there are no races in the near future.
    • Maintain base,
    • Let those injuries recover,
    • Do that strength and conditioning work you’ve always put off!
    • Keep in touch! We’ll all miss seeing our club-mates, well most of them, social media makes keeping in touch easier than ever, but the phones still work and not everyone is online.
    Don’t be a casualty – the NHS is busy and mountain rescue and other emergency services are too.
    • Now more than ever – do not run if you feel at all unwell. Headache, sore throat, persistent dry cough, temperature of 38 or above and loss of smell/taste are all documented symptoms of C19.
    • Don’t go for long and/or strenuous runs – injury or heart attacks are best avoided!
    • Avoid running on terrain where you may injure yourself (think about walking it) – Mountain rescue may not be coming to get you!
    Kit Check – You are on your own.
    • Take full FRA kit as a minimum
    • Take enough food and drink; the café is shut, the pub is too 
    Infection – keep your distance, and keep your hands clean
    • Avoid other people outdoors where possible, go early or late in the day to avoid the crowds
    • Keep your distance if you meet others out there.
    • Think about gates, styles and anything else that people had their hands on. Imagine everything you touch is covered in pink paint! How do you prevent transferring it to other surfaces and users? How do you keep it off the rest of your stuff – keys, jacket, shoes, front door – wear gloves you can throw away or wash when you get home.
    Route planning
    • We love running but its non-essential: run from home
    • As always, let someone know your route and when to expect you back. By text/phone if you live alone.
    We all love the fells but the current situation means we all need to act differently. Other European countries have banned mountain sports and imposed 2km limits for all activities. Please let’s all be sensible and keep the access we still have. One news story about a ‘reckless fell runner needing rescuing’ could be the end for now.

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