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Group rides during COVID

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Group rides during COVID

Old 09-29-20, 08:18 PM
  #1  
nesdog
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Group rides during COVID

Am I the only rider in the world who is still not riding with their group?? My club has resumed their regular weekend routes (with the requirement to wear a mask while waiting at the start, but not during the ride), and several of my friends from our regular shop ride (not yet formally resumed) are hitting the roads together. I've been solo since March!

I know California is generally doing reasonably well with COVID but it's not gone! Am I the wimp?!
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Old 09-29-20, 08:36 PM
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Yeah.
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Old 09-29-20, 08:38 PM
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Old 09-29-20, 08:44 PM
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You are doing the right thing.

Thank you for being conscientious.
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Old 09-29-20, 09:06 PM
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I haven't been on a group ride since late September of last year.

Northeastern Wisconsin, where I live, is currently among the fastest-growing covid-19 areas in the nation. I have no intention of becoming a statistic.
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Old 09-29-20, 09:08 PM
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You're in California so for you, yeah, you are doing the right thing, while the rest of the country moves on. (Sorry, you opened yourself up for that one)
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Old 09-29-20, 09:09 PM
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No. You are not a wimp and you are not the only one. My local group has been doing rides for at least a month and a half. I have yet to ride with them. Look at it this way. You are out on a solo ride. You're moving at a quick pace and come up behind another rider who's moving at a good clip. Would you just fall in behind that rider and stay there for a while taking advantage of them breaking wind for you? Assume neither of you is wearing a mask. Of course you wouldn't, especially knowing that that person ahead of you is breathing heavy and you are riding in the slipstream of their exhaled breath. Now picture yourself riding in group formation with 6 other riders. Are you going to stay behind that group for any amount of time knowing you are breathing the exhaled air from another person? C'mon. Not riding in a group is smart. Riding in a group? Good luck to you.
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Old 09-29-20, 10:08 PM
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I was tentatively joining a few group rides in the late summer, but they were small (6-8) and mostly the same people over and over again. But they started getting much bigger and I started thinking about what is likely to come down as the weather changes and people go back to indoor dining (and schools etc. etc.) and so I stopped. I feel pretty terrible - my friends are having a great time - I see the pictures on Strava - and I certaintly don't want it to be that they get sick so I can say I-told-you-so. I hope I am wrong and they all stay healthy. But I just...can't join them.

I miss it. I've done so many solo miles this year. They have their place, but...

I'm particularly upset about it all because I normally do group rides throughout the winter, and it's going to be that much hardder to go out and and enjoy winter riding on my own.
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Old 09-29-20, 11:52 PM
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That's a nope. Mostly.

I've done two or three casual group rides with friends since July. But I'm still uncomfortable with the whole thing. They're mostly younger and less likely to be symptomatic. I'm on the verge of the high risk group (early 60s, history of respiratory illness and a pesky auto immune disorder). On the plus side, the pace was very easy, much less risk of spreading droplet borne cooties since nobody was gasping for breath and spitting or blowing snot rockets. It was easy to spread out and minimize risk somewhat. It's a friendly group, no drop, regrouping often to pick up stragglers. But I still reduced my participation from once or twice a week to once a month, mostly to say hi and be friendly.

Another group of friends never stopped casual group rides. They seem okay. But they're all quite a bit younger. Besides the group rides there's lots of hugging, eating and drinking together, etc. While I like them and hope to see them again, it seems way too risky for me. They're really lovely folks, but do seem a bit clueless about how it looks to others when they completely ignored pandemic precautions. On the plus side observing them reminded me to be less critical in condemning strangers who've continued life as usual this year. I no longer assume everyone who ignores pandemic precautions is a jerk. It hasn't affected them personally so of course it doesn't seem real.

I've been careful to self isolate after any risky exposure to other people, including medical appointments, so after any group ride I keep to myself for about a week and watch for symptoms. So far, so good.

TBH, I'm surprised how selective COVID-19 has been. I fully expected it to wipe out half of my elderly and disabled neighbors. But that hasn't happened. The Super Cooties seems to zero in on folks well over age 70 who have comorbidities -- longtime cardiovascular disease, diabetes, morbid obesity, etc. Folks between 50-70 seem to dodge that bullet -- mostly. There have been some notable exceptions, but the victims who were younger and seemingly healthy appeared to have been vulnerable by overwork and high exposure -- especially health care professionals.

I quit fast group rides last autumn, 2019, due to chronic respiratory inflammation. This was waaay pre-pandemic. Besides wheezing for breath, I couldn't tell whether I had contagious cooties or just really bad allergies and asthma that were uncontrolled by my usual inhalers. And I was hacking up a lung and quart of phlegm every ride. If it seemed gross to me, I didn't want to subject anyone else to my cooties.

Eventually this spring my immunologist changed my inhalers. Much better now. The skin prick tests for allergies showed zero reactions to anything, which is peculiar because I have definite reactions to common allergens. The doctor thinks it's related to my Hashimoto's, which seems to provoke exaggerated immune responses to any perceived threat. Anyway, I can breathe again without popping Sudafed like candy, which was bad for my heart rate and BP.

TBH, by then I was struggling to keep up with faster group rides anyway. The group demographics were changing. The old guard my age were dropping out. At 62 I couldn't keep up with the 30-40something MAMILs anymore (let's face it, 60something is way past middle aged). For awhile I could hang on by drafting the stronger 50something y/o guys, but after they mostly quit the group rides there was no chance I could hang on. And they discarded the old "no drop" policy and just dusted off anyone who couldn't hang on. I ended up riding solo, and didn't even care much for their preferred route. Too much time racing on the MUP, hollering "onyerleft" at startled dog-walkers, too much flat terrain. I preferred my rural routes with open roads and lots of rollers.

I did enjoy some Sunday morning "recovery" rides led by a group of strong but compassionate younger racers. Their recovery pace was my "desperately hanging on for dear life" pace, but it was a no drop ride with some regroup points. And they rode my preferred rural routes, so it was still enjoyable. But they discontinued all officially announced group rides back in March.

I suspect they still do training and recovery rides, but most of the local pros and some serious amateur racers don't publicly post to Strava. I see 'em on the road from a distance (I recognize the team colors and blur of speed), but unlike some regions they don't dominate Strava with public logs. Besides wanting to avoid the risk of negative publicity, I suspect the team sponsors encourage them to keep their Strava logs set to private or friends-only to avoid discouraging the MAMILs who make up 90% of the paying market.

We old dudes enjoy our little fantasies. I had a few top tens before the pandemic, and regained a top ten this week on a 1.5 mile climbing segment. Yeah, I'm slightly faster than a 30-something y/o woman pro, for short distances (they'd still drop me like a rock over distance), only because I still have a decent kick on sprints. But I know darned well I wouldn't even be in the top 100 if every local male pro and serious amateur publicly logged their rides to Strava. The same women pros I can beat in a sprint and some segments under a mile are still faster than me over 5 mile and longer segments. I'm solidly middle of the pack, so any time I snag a Strava top ten you can be sure it's on a segment few people ride, or the really strong guys aren't publicly logging their rides.

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Old 09-30-20, 07:44 AM
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Growing up and learning to take responsibility is hard. (So hard, some people never do it!)

I'm trying to stay healthy, which coincidentally keeps everyone else in my area a little safer, too. So I've been missing my normal after-work rides, and skipping the occasional weekend rides, too. It helps that I know two couples who've come down with COVID -- one couple before we knew any better, and one couple that really should have known better...

The hardest part has been the big rides. I backed out of a week-long trip and vacation, which was later canceled; another ride (a century) also canceled; and I skipped my local bike club's century (which was held while cases in our area dipped to levels not seen since the middle of June). I look at it as two thirds of the organizers behaved responsibly -- is that above average?
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Old 09-30-20, 08:09 AM
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My club has discontinued all sanctioned group rides for the interim. The intent is that they will only be re-instituted once a vaccine is available, and that vaccination will be a requirement for participation, just like helmets have been for years.
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Old 09-30-20, 09:51 AM
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No group rides for me. I go out occasionally with 1 or 2 friends who are a part of my bubble. We take pull-up masks for casual interactions with other riders and N95s for stores, etc.
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Old 09-30-20, 09:55 AM
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You are outdoors, so that already statistically drops your chances of infection. As long as you are moving and even better if the wind is blowing across the road, then your chances of getting infected are very much less than if around an infected person indoors.

Mask while not riding are always a good idea. I have in cooler times worn a mask for entire 60 mile rides. Not an issue as long as you don't have a mask that collapses around your nose and mouth every time you inhale. That leaves too little surface area for good airflow. On days when temps have you sweating, masks get wet and many don't let air flow well through them while damp.

If you think you want to wear a mask while riding, don't wait till the ride to try one. Many don't lend themselves well to moist breath and high rates of airflow. Some of the cloth pleated mask designs work better for me because the pleats tend to resist having the mask collapse when inhaling. I tried a neck gaiter but it was too hot on my neck and held in a lot of body heat. I only tried one though, but it had to come off in the first five or six minutes of riding.

The videos here are sort of boring at first but actually get interesting at the mid point........... https://usacycling.org/event-organiz...vent-resources
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Old 09-30-20, 10:36 AM
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The way I see it is that every interaction I have with another person is an opportunity to catch it. With that in mind, I'm not going to expose myself unless its something important to me and I do it in a way that is as safe as possible. Never been much of a group rider so certainly not going to do it now, especially with a bunch of people I don't know. Many are not very responsible. I also think we can't completely isolate ourselves either so there are things that I will do, that I don't strictly have to, but willing to accept whatever risk is involved.

Three people caught it at the company I work for; all middle aged workers. The first one that got it had horrible symptoms but didn't say anything and continued to work for several days before going to the doctor so he infected another person that was commuting with the third person.
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Old 09-30-20, 11:21 AM
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I belong to a large club and I dearly miss our weekly rides, but it's going to be a long time before I pedal with more than three or four friends. I see big groups of 20+ riders and smh.
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Old 09-30-20, 11:21 AM
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I have not been on a group ride since March, and the only person I've ridden with (in real life, not on Zwift) has been my son. We've actually been doing some racing though. A friend of mine organized a socially distant TT series where each week he would map out a course and post it to a FB group. Then you would go out and ride it yourself any time on race day and post it to Strava. Different format each week: some hill climbs, some gravel sections, some Merckx style, some full on TT rigs (if you have one). Super fun.

And this month we've been doing a XC mtb race every week. Also set up as a TT: social distancing at the start, have to wear a mask in common areas, then go off at 1 minute intervals. Also super fun.

I do miss group rides, but it's a small inconvenience.
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Old 09-30-20, 11:24 AM
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The discussions about different levels of exposure risk - out in the air, riding, standing around, inside the convenience store, etc. are worthwhile, but some additional thoughts:

Once you begin riding with people, some other inhibitions fall away. Someone gets a mechanical? The tendency is to help, without social distancing. Stopping at a traffic light or a rest stop? Social distancing is less likely after drafting the guy for however long.

Also, I get Iride01 's point about "much less likely", but all of that is multiplied by the number of hours in contact -6 hours in a pace line is not the same as 1 hour, and the number of people involved.

What I'm getting round to is that not all group rides are equally risky. As I said before, I was comfortable in smaller groups, but I've become less comfortable now. When we first started riding together earlier in the summer, if there were 8 of us, we'd break up into two groups of four. Now, the same group goes out with 15 people in a tight double pace line. Not the same.

Also, you have to trust the people you are riding with- version 1. I was on a gravel ride in August with some people. We were riding in a group of 5-6, and it being gravel, we weren't in a tight pace line, but doing some drafting. Anyway, about half way through the ride, I started coughing. I was pretty sure that it was just the dust on the back of my throat, but who the hell wants to be riding next to me under those circumstances? I put on a mask, eased off, and let the group go, riding solo for the rest of the ride. Better safe than sorry.

Also, you have to trust the people you are riding with- version 2. How well do you know the people you are riding with? Are you connected on social media? If you go on a ride, and a few days later, somebody gets sick, will everybody else know? If you are going to ride in groups, it's not a good time to be riding with strangers. The larger groups that I no longer ride with include people that I don't know as well (I can see on Strava). That is another reason I'm staying away.
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Old 09-30-20, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Ogsarg View Post
The way I see it is that every interaction I have with another person is an opportunity to catch it. With that in mind, I'm not going to expose myself unless its something important to me and I do it in a way that is as safe as possible.
I totally agree. I don't know if I posted here about it; but I am still recovering my strength after Covid. I don't know for sure where I got it, but the assumption is that is was a visitor to my office. Masks were being worn, but it was an enclosed space. After running a 103F temp for 4 days, my wife found me in the shower, unable to stand up and get out. I was hospitalized and for the first 2-3 days I was on 14 liters of oxygen and was still barely able to tell my wife via phone, in breathless 3-and-4 word sentences, that I promised not to die. The pneumonia didn't help. Maybe some people get it and shrug it off. I'm 'older' but was in great health and it still just about got me. DO NOT take any chances with this virus. BTW, the hospital wing I was in was full of students from Michigan State University. There is no blanket protection associated with youth.

Sorry to go on a rant, but I would not want a single forum member to get this thing, ever.
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Old 09-30-20, 12:41 PM
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Since the context of riding in a group for a period of time was brought up, I just want to add that on many of the organized century rides I've done, I was solo or with my son and sometimes a couple friends for most all the ride. It is only at the start and rest stops that I was in large groups. Sure there are people and groups passing or being passed, but those are usually not large groups or for long periods that you are near them. The number of minutes I was sitting within a 1/4 mile of a group of any size is pretty minimal for me.

I do agree that it will be safer to not participate. However, I'm probably going to take a chance an do my cities organized ride on Oct. 10. Doesn't really matter how safe something is to the person that just happens to be the statistic. So certainly one shouldn't be ashamed to be more cautious.
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Old 09-30-20, 01:15 PM
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Not a wimp. Smart. Do what feels right for you. I'm in CA too. While I tend to ride solo anyway, group rides and the like can certainly wait a while longer. A little patience might actually save a life in this bizarre time we're in.
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Old 09-30-20, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
I totally agree. I don't know if I posted here about it; but I am still recovering my strength after Covid. I don't know for sure where I got it, but the assumption is that is was a visitor to my office. Masks were being worn, but it was an enclosed space. After running a 103F temp for 4 days, my wife found me in the shower, unable to stand up and get out. I was hospitalized and for the first 2-3 days I was on 14 liters of oxygen and was still barely able to tell my wife via phone, in breathless 3-and-4 word sentences, that I promised not to die. The pneumonia didn't help. Maybe some people get it and shrug it off. I'm 'older' but was in great health and it still just about got me. DO NOT take any chances with this virus. BTW, the hospital wing I was in was full of students from Michigan State University. There is no blanket protection associated with youth.

Sorry to go on a rant, but I would not want a single forum member to get this thing, ever.
I luckily had a very mild case back in March, nothing nearly as severe as yours. Still knocked me down for weeks. Glad to hear you're on the other side of it. Get well and strong fast!
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Old 09-30-20, 01:24 PM
  #22  
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We've been Group riding since the end of the lockdown months ago! Anything up to around 30 sometimes. Mostly, around 10 - 20 but in typical fashion, the main Group splits in to smaller groups as the pace increases.

Here they do take social distancing and the wearing of masks very seriously - since before the lockdown actually. Very diligent. But cyclists do ride in Groups and with permission - we take our masks with us for cafe's but we are riding as normal otherwise.

Our region, Algarve (Southern Portugal) has had 19 deaths and 1663 cases in total since this all kicked off so relatively few and the whole country is faring quite well, all things considered.
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Old 09-30-20, 01:56 PM
  #23  
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Thanks for replying to my original post. So many good points and much appreciated.

As others stated, I also see the weekly pix on Strava or FB of people I know and it's hard to not want to rush out and join the fun. I'll see some of them from time to time on the road but all I've got is a quick wave or a word or two to exchange. As our time together comprised a regular part of my social life, that's a big hole to fill and I miss it.

Groups here have gotten bigger over the past few months, with 15-20 riders common.

We have a rated 4 Tier system in California for describing COVID risk, and specifying what is allowed to be open. We straddle L.A. and Ventura counties where I live and both are at the highest/most restricted level. My plan is to wait until we have dropped two levels before considering a return to any group activity. At least that gives me some kind of external metric to follow rather than my own compromised feelings.

Well, I'll feel better about being out alone on my next ride knowing it's not just me! Thanks....stay safe everyone...someday we will be grouped up again!
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Old 09-30-20, 03:06 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by nesdog View Post

. As our time together comprised a regular part of my social life, that's a big hole to fill and I miss it.
Having done 100+ group rides per year for decades I understand this feeling. Our club cancelled all rides for several months as did another club I sometimes ride with. Recently my main club started posting ride schedules again. I have gone to a few of these scheduled rides and turnout is very minimal. I did a ride with 3 others and it was a lot of fun. Other times it was awkward and I didn't enjoy it.
I've done a lot more solo riding this year than ever before but I've begun riding with a few friends. We don't sit close at stops, we don't share food or drink, and we don't closely draft on the road.
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Old 09-30-20, 03:08 PM
  #25  
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Bikes: CAAD 12, MASI Gran Criterium S, Colnago World Cup CX & Guru steel

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I am riding solo or with my wife. It's the right thing for us. Others may differ.
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