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Resuming club rides as COVID-19 wanes

 
Old 05-23-20, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Hokiedad4 View Post
We plan to require masks for the parking lot and café stops, but not while riding. Rides will go out in small groups (5 or fewer). No pace lines. Spacing between bikes is encouraged, and no side-by-side.

Are any of you considering resuming club rides? What risk factors are you evaluating?
I’m wondering if you all read the above. They aren’t in one big (or even small) paceline, and are spacing between bikes. The ride appear to be more of a dispersed ride than a group ride in the big paceline sense.

My comment to the OP:

The problem you are likely to have is that people will naturally tend to congregate. If it’s a big group, you will have major problems enforcing separation among the cyclists, and that is key.

You might want to consider smaller groups (3?) and make one person in the the small group responsible for enforcing the rules in their group in terms of separation in among their group members, and the other groups.
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Old 05-24-20, 01:55 AM
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Many folks I know and used to ride with never stopped group rides. They were coy about it, posting Strava logs claiming "social distancing rides, but I saw some of 'em along the routes I ride. They were just ordinary group rides, everyone within a bike length of each other.

They're mostly younger and healthy. They probably won't get sick. But they're taking a huge risk of spreading it to people in the vulnerable demographics: over age 65, existing health conditions, etc.

I'm in the grey zone for risk, early 60s, some health issues including chronic respiratory inflammation. So I'm avoiding most gatherings out of self protection. In fact I stopped most group rides last autumn when my upper respiratory problems suddenly worsened. I didn't know whether I was sick, if it was allergies, or just another symptom of my auto immune disorder. I didn't want to risk infecting anyone else so I discontinued group rides last October or November, long before this coronavirus hit the news. So the past few months haven't been a change for me. I still ride 400-500 miles a month, mostly in rural and quiet suburban area highways and access roads. Very little traffic, hardly ever see another person -- maybe one or two cyclists or joggers.

I'm the only person in my apartment building taking any precautions. Many folks have continued social gatherings as usual. As far as I know, nobody in this building has gotten sick from COVID-19. Maybe they're just lucky and it hasn't hit them yet. But if things go as they usually do with every epidemic and pandemic, this winter will be brutal when the second wave hits people who've become complacent.

Some of those folks who've continued group rides throughout the mythical "lockdown" are friends. But I won't ride with them again anytime soon. Some are in their 50s-early 60s. It'll be interesting to see whether they remain healthy this year.

Some of them turned out to be crackpots as well, spouting bizarre conspiracy theories. I'll never ride or associate with them again. I don't want to be anywhere near the splatter zone of their BS.
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Old 05-24-20, 05:33 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
The problem you are likely to have is that people will naturally tend to congregate. If it’s a big group, you will have major problems enforcing separation among the cyclists, and that is key.

You might want to consider smaller groups (3?) and make one person in the the small group responsible for enforcing the rules in their group in terms of separation in among their group members, and the other groups.
Thanks. Our plan is to start with small groups (<5), maintain distancing, require masks at stops, etc. We're using online ride check-in (Wild Apricot). You're correct that this is more of a challenge at the car park/café stop, but we will require masks. I'm actually not expecting large groups, but there are some people who simply won't ride alone and haven't been riding for weeks. For them, the group rides are important.

It wasn't my intention to ignite debate. The data unequivocally indicate that cases are slowing and have been since late April. Cases have been dropping around here for a couple weeks, and testing has expanded to asymptomatic people.
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Old 05-24-20, 06:50 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Many folks I know and used to ride with never stopped group rides. ....
Personally, had been staying away from group rides (non-COVID health issues has me not riding at all recently). I'd ride with a friend or two, but we keep our distance while doing it, mask up when we stop to chat and keep our distance. I still think the risk/reward ratio is too high. And I'm definitely a social animal and so miss riding with friends.

You also mentioned us being in the gray area. I have to say, I am still trying to get my arms around being in the "elderly" or whatever else they call our demographic. I don't have any of the comorbidities, but facts are facts ... older people do worse, no matter how good a shape they are in. For us it pays to be really careful and use our heads.
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Old 05-24-20, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Hokiedad4 View Post
Thanks. Our plan is to start with small groups (<5), maintain distancing, require masks at stops, etc. We're using online ride check-in (Wild Apricot). You're correct that this is more of a challenge at the car park/café stop, but we will require masks. I'm actually not expecting large groups, but there are some people who simply won't ride alone and haven't been riding for weeks. For them, the group rides are important.

It wasn't my intention to ignite debate. The data unequivocally indicate that cases are slowing and have been since late April. Cases have been dropping around here for a couple weeks, and testing has expanded to asymptomatic people.
I've occasionally tried to lead group rides with friends, and for me, the most difficult part is keeping the group together. You end up having to ride all over the place to keep track of who is doing what, and have someone (typically a very strong rider) in charge of sweeping the back to make sure stragglers aren't lost/get flats, etc. In this instance, I think the hardest thing is going to be keeping them in touch, yet far enough apart. So I really think putting people you trust in charge of those small groups is going to be critical.

There is software out there that will allow everyone in the group with a cellphone to see where everyone else is. That might help separated stragglers find the group should they get lost. That has come in handy in the pre-COVID days ... it might help with a more dispersed ride too.

I think it will be difficult but possible to managable if everyone is on board. Good luck to you!
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Old 05-24-20, 09:14 AM
  #31  
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My sceptacism about group rides comes from my experience riding occasionally with one other person, and also from what I observe (and sociologists observe) in group dynamics. And also from the few groups I have seen riding on the road and trail.

I don’t think riding side by side is much of an issue, but when you need to move to single file, the distance needs to be pretty large and it takes a bit of planning and coordination to make that happen relatively quickly. I don’t think this is realistic with more than two people.

I guess you could just have everyone ride far apart but keep in mind this is way more than 6’ when riding in the same direction - I think I heard 2 seconds apart, which feels pretty far when riding.

I think you may find this is difficult to get people to do... or rather to maintain over time. Think of the reasons WHY people do group rides: To talk as they ride, for the drafting benefits, or to ride with others to push each-other. None of these are accomplished riding far apart. Whatever people have been missing about group rides, I think most will find they are not getting it while all riding far apart.

I think what you are going to find is that people may show up with the best intentions, but break down over time. And I would not expect “enforcers” to do much about it.

The sort of practices that we need to maintain are socially awkward, and take full buy in from everyone in a group to work. From what I’ve seen, any group tends to settle around practices of the least strict members, especially if anyone in the group exibits skepticism about the need for the restrictions. There is significant part of our population who think face masks and distancing are a ridiculous over-reaction, and these include cyclists (I know a number of them in both my road and mtb bike clubs). Some of these folks may show up for your group rides. While they may not openly resist the distancing measures, they will be an erosive factor.

Also, think about this: if you try this and someone feels that it was not successful from a social distancing standpoint, is their a realistic mechanism that will allow the plug to get pulled on the next group ride?

I can’t speak speak for others responding to this thread, but a large part of my earlier snarky reaction was the fact that this decision to start up group rides is apprently based on the perception of COVID-19 “waning”. I think that assumption is problematic for two reasons:

1- Waning (in my perception) has an implication or something not just decreasing, but of being on a trajectory of significantly diminishing. While the overall infection and death rates have come down slightly since their peak, there is no evidence that this is now going away. It is actually just the opposite, with an INCREASE expected as we open up business again.

2- Regardless of what you meant by “waning”, the slight but steady decrease we are seeing on the national level is due to significant decreases around NYC and a few other hot spots... which are mostly still relatively hot. . Outside of these hot spots, rates are not really decreasing.

The bottom line is that for all intents and purposes, the threat level is pretty much the same now as it was a month ago.

Anyway, I wish you luck in keeping it safe. I encourage you to make an honest assessment of how it goes, and share what you find does and does not work.

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Old 05-24-20, 10:42 AM
  #32  
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Our club president is in touch with other clubs in the area and is sort of queuing off them while also getting feedback from members on our FB page. I have a disabled daughter in the house who is high risk, so I certainly won't be joining any group rides soon. I've been avoiding any MUP for the last 6 weeks and have been happy solo riding the streets here in Austin as they've been relatively un-crowded. In the last week however, traffic levels have increased and I've seen more cyclists riding in small groups, some with decent spacing, some not. I'll stick to solo rides using the bike lanes and streets around here for a while...there's no shortage of interesting routes.
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Old 05-24-20, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Hokiedad4 View Post
It wasn't my intention to ignite debate
You said COVID-19 was waning and you didn't intend to ignite debate? I cooked these tomatoes with some onion, garlic, basil and a decent red wine for a few hours but didn't intend to make a tomato sauce.

There are news articles all over of huge spikes when people have tried to re-open and are going out into the public. Most of the competent doctors are saying it isn't safe, and we also do not have a cure or reliable easy to obtain testing. If you didn't want to ignite a power keg, I usually recommend not pouring gasoline on it and playing with your flamethrower near it.

If you hadn't said it was "waning" maybe less to ignite. It could have been fine if you had said "I am looking to figure out a possibility of starting smaller group rides under this global pandemic any ideas"
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Old 05-24-20, 10:07 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Many folks I know and used to ride with never stopped group rides. They were coy about it, posting Strava logs claiming "social distancing rides, but I saw some of 'em along the routes I ride. They were just ordinary group rides, everyone within a bike length of each other.

They're mostly younger and healthy. They probably won't get sick. But they're taking a huge risk of spreading it to people in the vulnerable demographics: over age 65, existing health conditions, etc.

I'm in the grey zone for risk, early 60s, some health issues including chronic respiratory inflammation. So I'm avoiding most gatherings out of self protection. In fact I stopped most group rides last autumn when my upper respiratory problems suddenly worsened. I didn't know whether I was sick, if it was allergies, or just another symptom of my auto immune disorder. I didn't want to risk infecting anyone else so I discontinued group rides last October or November, long before this coronavirus hit the news. So the past few months haven't been a change for me. I still ride 400-500 miles a month, mostly in rural and quiet suburban area highways and access roads. Very little traffic, hardly ever see another person -- maybe one or two cyclists or joggers.

I'm the only person in my apartment building taking any precautions. Many folks have continued social gatherings as usual. As far as I know, nobody in this building has gotten sick from COVID-19. Maybe they're just lucky and it hasn't hit them yet. But if things go as they usually do with every epidemic and pandemic, this winter will be brutal when the second wave hits people who've become complacent.

Some of those folks who've continued group rides throughout the mythical "lockdown" are friends. But I won't ride with them again anytime soon. Some are in their 50s-early 60s. It'll be interesting to see whether they remain healthy this year.

Some of them turned out to be crackpots as well, spouting bizarre conspiracy theories. I'll never ride or associate with them again. I don't want to be anywhere near the splatter zone of their BS.
Cankle, my cynical self sees group riding as part of the unspoken "flattening the curve". Of course, if you are at the mountaintop and flatten the curve, what do you have? A high plateau. We stared at sea level, rode through Denver and have achieved the continental divide. We now want to ride it the divide to Canada. A noble achievement and great scenery, but at 1000 deaths a day?

As you pointed out, those who are going to die aren't the ones riding, It's their less than healthy family members, grand parents and others they will never learn of.

Ben
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Old 05-25-20, 01:10 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
I've occasionally tried to lead group rides with friends, and for me, the most difficult part is keeping the group together. You end up having to ride all over the place to keep track of who is doing what, and have someone (typically a very strong rider) in charge of sweeping the back to make sure stragglers aren't lost/get flats, etc. In this instance, I think the hardest thing is going to be keeping them in touch, yet far enough apart. So I really think putting people you trust in charge of those small groups is going to be critical.
Yup, I've done many rides with various groups and they differ a lot. Mostly learned I wouldn't want to lead any group ride. I enjoyed being the caboose, the sweep, but that's about as far as my ambition extended.

When I resumed riding in 2015 after more than 30 years away, I was in pretty bad shape and met some folks for very casual rides. At first even the 10-12 mph average was tough but I got stronger pretty quickly. I'm still close to many of those folks. Some are pretty strong riders, but those are considered social rides and sometimes pub crawls, so they try to keep everyone together and match the slowest rider, whomever happens to show up.

That works fine until the group size exceeds a dozen or so, then it gets a little raggedy. That happened often with the monthly Critical Mass rides on the last Friday night of the month -- in good weather we might have 50 or so riders, which is small for a Critical Mass group. Some cities have hundreds, even thousands. But nobody gets left behind. Some ride leaders used those no-license FM radio family service walkie-talkies, others didn't. Those casual group rides have all been suspended since late March. To my knowledge nobody has continued with ad hoc group rides under the original banners for those groups. Most of my friends from those groups have ridden solo, with family or a select friend or two, trying to minimize contact risk.

As my fitness improved and I added a road bike in 2017 I hooked up with a local roadie club for some rides. At the time they had A and B group rides. I was strictly B group and still am. But over time the group sorta lost focus. The A group basically mutinied, went for the anarchy approach -- blowing stop signs and red lights, which I've never been comfortable with. Idaho Stop, sure -- slow roll stop signs while looking carefully; full stops at red lights, then go when it's clear. Always yield to vehicles, other cyclists and pedestrians when appropriate. But just blowing through heedlessly? Nah. So even when I could keep pace with them, they'd lose me over the go/no-go thing, with the gap getting wider after each intersection. And they rarely observed the original group's no-drop policy. Those folks continued group rides throughout the March-May pandemic scare, no real changes. But they're mostly younger and stronger.

They're okay folks, but seem oblivious to the risk of being asymptomatic carriers. I know a couple are in health care, child care or have contact with folks in the vulnerable demographic, which seems incomprehensible. But we've all seen those news stories about nurses, doctors, nursing home aides, etc., who just don't seem to believe the coronavirus is a serious concern for their own patients. I'm staying far away from those folks until this whole mess has blown over. Which probably means next year.

The B-group eventually became "the group," with speed varying depending on who showed up and how everyone felt. Sometimes a 14 mph cruise, sometimes 18 mph if everyone was up for it. While the group often split we had regroup points and tried to ensure everyone was accounted for -- usually folks who dropped out would text the ride leader so we wouldn't worry or backtrack to gather them up. Seemed like a good model for an approachable, accessible group, but over the last year it just sorta fizzled and hardly anyone showed up. Not sure why. I suspect it's just the usual entropy. The original group started almost 20 years ago and the original members are still close friends, but work, family and life stuff gradually whittled away at the cohesiveness. And with the pandemic the group leader has taken a very cautious approach, cancelling all group rides until further notice, and riding solo or with immediate family.

Mellow Johnny's hosted several types of group rides but those have all been officially suspended since March. I don't know whether some regulars continued with ad hoc groups, I haven't shown up for any rides recently. In normal times their no-drop rides really were no-drop. The group would occasionally stretch out and split, but they always observed the same regroup points and tried to do a head count, or check for messages from folks who bailed out or needed help. Worked well. I may join those rides again this summer if the pandemic seems to be in a lull and my own health continues to improve.

More likely, though, I'll just ride solo and occasionally ride with one or two friends who are sensible. I know they're very health and safety conscious so I'm not worried about them as asymptomatic carriers.
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Old 06-02-20, 06:04 AM
  #36  
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I read this thread yesterday before my club's BOD meeting where we discussed and voted to resume club rides in spite of 1/2 the BOD having high risk factors (myself included). I think there's enough guidance available at USA Cycling (https://www.usacycling.org/event-org...vent-resources) to make informed decisions. Personally I will be looking for uncrowded routes and probably rides that don't require a rest stop. A couple of the things I thought about last night were: If you have a mechanical, you're on your own-I don't wanna touch your bike, I don't want you touching my tools and you better bring a map of some sort-keeping riders separated is going to make it easier to miss a turn.

We're in FL, where we are in "Phase 1" of reopening, groups of 10 are the maximum size allowed. And since we have moved into Phase 1, FL has had 2 days with the highest numbers of new Covid 19 cases so far; but the percentage of test results that are new positives isn't changing drastically (right now).
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Old 06-02-20, 10:18 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Podagrower View Post
I read this thread yesterday before my club's BOD meeting where we discussed and voted to resume club rides in spite of 1/2 the BOD having high risk factors (myself included). I think there's enough guidance available at USA Cycling (https://www.usacycling.org/event-org...vent-resources) to make informed decisions. Personally I will be looking for uncrowded routes and probably rides that don't require a rest stop. A couple of the things I thought about last night were: If you have a mechanical, you're on your own-I don't wanna touch your bike, I don't want you touching my tools and you better bring a map of some sort-keeping riders separated is going to make it easier to miss a turn.

We're in FL, where we are in "Phase 1" of reopening, groups of 10 are the maximum size allowed. And since we have moved into Phase 1, FL has had 2 days with the highest numbers of new Covid 19 cases so far; but the percentage of test results that are new positives isn't changing drastically (right now).
I'm less concerned about physical contact than with being in the droplet cloud zone.

If you're in the vulnerable demographic, there is no safe group ride.

The closest thing to it would be the time trial model, with each rider separated by one or two minutes. Agree upon regroup points to be sure everyone arrives safely, or arrange for a communication process if someone drops out so the group isn't left waiting unnecessarily.

But that probably won't catch on either. Some friends tried it for one or two rides, then resumed usual group rides while pretending they were "social distancing" because they weren't drafting wheel to wheel.

As far as I'm concerned, folks can do what they want. I'll do what's best for me.
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Old 06-03-20, 12:42 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
...

If you're in the vulnerable demographic, there is no safe group ride.

...
You or anyone in your household.

I won't do any group rides. If I bring this disease home, my housemate dies.

Ben
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Old 06-04-20, 03:53 PM
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Our club president put up a poll asking who would be interested in a group ride this Saturday. His thoughts were that it would be groups of 4 with a minimum gap of 20-30 feet between the groups. Face masks optional but recommended (not clear if he meant while riding or just while stationary).

So far, after 2 days, it's 14 votes for "interested" and 9 votes for "i'm fine on my own". I'm in the second category as I have someone in my home who is in the high-risk demographic.
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Old 06-04-20, 04:11 PM
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Did a semi-organized group ride up Highwood Pass (one of the best rides in Canada, closed to vehicular traffic until June 15) on Tuesday. Seven people, left in two groups and one of the guys who was supposed to be in the second group, left with the first group .The second group waited for him at the start...
Nobody rode at the same pace, so there were lots of stops and re-grouping. It was very windy. It was the Highwood. The probabiity of virus transmisson was very low. Not zero but very low.

Some group rides are safe.
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Old 06-04-20, 04:27 PM
  #41  
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I definitely want to be able to do group rides. But first I need to increase my avg mph from about 11. Second, I need to see either a treatment or a vaccine. Since we have neither, it ain’t happening.i laugh when people say that it’s windy so it’s ok. Well, since the droplets float in the air, the wind can take the droplets anywhere, including straight into your face. Waning? I guess there are those who are comfortable with facts and those who aren’t.
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Old 06-04-20, 04:43 PM
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The riskiest scenarios are breathing somebody else's breath inside. Like choir practise.
In a windy place, there is obviously a risk that the wind will blow somebody's exhalations into your face. Like riding in a pace line.
More likely is that the wind will dissipate and dilute the virus. Not zero probability of transmission, but low. Make your own judgements
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Old 06-07-20, 03:13 PM
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We did our first group ride Saturday with 14 people, split into groups of 3-4. The groups were separated by route and ability, and within each group, we remained spread out fairly well. Masks are mandatory in the parking lot and café stops. There was very positive feedback from all that it was well organized with reasonable precautions, so we are going to resume a limited schedule.

Most other clubs in our state--and there are dozens--have also resumed club rides, also with written policies on group size and interaction. The state is also allowing outdoor activities for groups of 25 or less (running, restaurants with outdoor seating, picnics, church/synagogue, etc.), although with recent events of course there have been many large groups congregating. So I suppose it could all go pear-shaped quickly.
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Old 06-15-20, 09:49 AM
  #44  
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I know everybody thinks that FL is flat when it comes to riding, but we've got some nice rises in Covid numbers. The last week of lockdown, everybody was pretty much over it and there were as many cars on the road as pre lockdown. Lockdown new case numbers were around 700 per day and 3-4% of the daily tested totals were new positives. Now, we've been moved into phase 2 of reopening (group size limited to 50, but pretty much everything is open) and we're setting new records for the number of new cases and the percentage of daily totals being new cases is up in the 5-6% range.

One club has already announced they were continuing their suspension of group rides and another group is hosting a century ride and after party at the end of the month with over 100 participants signed up-so we are at least being consistent (sarcasm).
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Old 06-15-20, 04:44 PM
  #45  
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So, after following the number for our county and seeing the rolling 7 day average come down to about 2 new infections per week, my wife and I decided to see how it would go riding with a group of 5 (us and 3 friends) a few days ago.

As I mentioned earlier, I've done a few rides with just one other guy, and I felt like we could do the dance pretty well... we ride side by side, and if we need to go single file, separate pretty far before doing so. It takes a lot of attention to our surroundings, but we pull it off. It helps that we stick to mostly deserted roads.

So, how did it go with 5? Not stellar, IMO. That many people just can't do the dance, and it only takes one or two to not be on the ball to end up on a tight group. I'm not too stressed about that particular ride (the roads were largely deserted with only a handful of cars over the 3-hr ride), but it re-enforced my belief that group rides are just not going to be very "distancey". And I am unlikely to do this sort of ride again, as much as I loved riding with our friends.
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Old 12-10-20, 11:39 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I need to go to church with 50,000 other people in the congregation and pray for inspiration first.
Just as a follow-up: this worked perfectly. The pandemic has completely vanished.
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