cycling

Why Sam is still riding inside even though the sun is shining

A narrow lane, with sun shining through the trees, with no traffic or people.

Even though it’s time for a new mantra, go outside, but do not congregate, and Cate is blogging this afternoon about outdoor exercise, dispelling some myths about moving outside during the pandemic, I’m still riding my bike inside.

Why? I’m asked that a lot and I thought I’d try to explain.

An aside: Sometimes you write a blog post just to explain your reasons for some conclusion or activity. Partly I want to point people over here when they ask why. Partly I want to lay out the reasons for myself, to see if they still hold up. But what I am not trying to do here is persuade others. That’s not my main aim. If you find my reasoning attractive, join me. But that’s not my goal.

First, I take the advice of Cycling Canada pretty seriously. They say, if you have the means to train inside, do it. Cycling Canada recommends you extend your trainer season. “Canadians have been urged to stay at home to reduce the spread of the virus,” says the organization. “At this time, Cycling Canada recommends that cyclists who are equipped to ride indoors strongly consider staying home for recreational riding and training.” And I’m very well-equipped. Without the smart trainer, I might well choose to ride outside. But I have one and I’m using it lots.

Second, I like riding in groups, close to other people. I like riding with friends. In the past I’ve liked riding with bike clubs. And that’s exactly the kind of riding that’s not at all recommended. Six feet away from another bike is pretty far away and it’s a hard distance to maintain. It’s also hard to be heard from one bike to another six feet, given all the breathing maybe ten feet, apart. I hate yelling.

Third, I like riding to nearby small towns for coffee and snacks. That’s also not allowed. Again, Cycling Canada says, “Cycling Canada recommends you don’t travel to the next city or town to ride. Travel between communities accelerates the spread of COVID-19, and can bring the virus to smaller communities that don’t have the same health resources as larger urban centres. Many small towns and tourist destinations – including Whistler, Canmore, Squamish and cottage towns in Ontario and Quebec– are asking visitors to put off visiting until it is safe to do so.”

Okay, I could ride with people already in my COVID-19 family bubble and we could bring our own snacks. Maybe.

Fourth, I am also worried–not overly so but a bit–about what would happen in case of a crash. This isn’t a worry about dying on my bike. It’s a worry about the kind of small crashes I’ve had before, nothing broken, no stitches or concussions, but they’ve landed me in hospital for a day, getting gravel removed and being checked out. I don’t want to land in hospital, take a ride in an ambulance, or spend any time in an emergency room. (If you’re curious, here’s the story of one of my hospital worthy accidents. CW: gruesome photos.)

It’s why I worry about things like country drives right now. Friends went driving around the countryside, with the best of physical distancing intentions, and their car broke down. The next thing they knew they were in tow truck, very close to the driver, without face masks. I don’t want that. I’d risk that for an essential activity–like driving to work if I was an essential worker, or getting groceries–but a drive in the country isn’t needed. It’s an unnecessary risk. Ditto, I think, riding my bike. There are safer ways to get outdoor exercise. If I could run, I’d run outdoors. I can’t. But I do walk Cheddar a lot.

Here’s Cheddar waiting patiently by the front door for an after work walk. He was sadly disappointed because we had university Senate from 5-8 pm. Poor Cheddar!

Fifth, I am really enjoying riding and racing in Zwift. And I’m set up for it. I’ve thought about Zwifting in the summer before, Is it ridiculous to ride inside in the summer?. So this isn’t a brand new, pandemic-only, thing. In general, I like the safety paired with virtual speed.

I’ve also gotten used to riding in a sports bra, no jersey. 🙂

So given the worries, and that I like riding far, and fast, and with other people, there are a bunch of reasons keeping me riding inside right now. (Note that none of those worries have to do with catching COVID-19.) Also, I’m working long days and when I’m done it’s dark. And on the weekends there are a lot of people outside. Lots of them don’t have trainers but I do.

Will I stay inside all summer on my bike? I don’t expect so. I think I’ll ride casually in the sunshine because the wind feels good on my face. But I won’t be racing downhill or chasing QOMs for awhile yet. I’m hoping to get out on some local trails on my gravel bike once they’re re-opened. I’ll ride on the country roads near my home and the university campus, with snacks, and a repair kit, and my phone to call my son to come get me if need be. I’ll pack a mask in case something happens such that I need to be near other people. I’ll get there. But right now that feels, well, complicated.

I have a yard. I have a deck. I walk Cheddar lots. But for now, on my bike, I feel better inside. Follow me on Strava or on Zwift if that’s thing your thing and send me a “ride on.”

Virtual Sam has ridden enough to unlock a new bike. Lighter and faster. Whee!

6 thoughts on “Why Sam is still riding inside even though the sun is shining

  1. You’ve done a really excellent job at articulating why I am also riding indoors still. I’ve been watching some folks’ Strava feeds and feeling nostalgic about long rides outside the city. In fact, just a couple of days ago I opened the window before a Zwift ride and my son said the smell and feel of the air made him remember the day we rode out to Camp 30 in Bowmanville. He was right, too.

    Much of why I ride is to get outside my bubble and interact with people, so bringing a bubble made of snacks and drinks and every single spare part I might need would take the joy out of it. And the wait, I think, is going to make those first rides – whether in summer or 2021 – all the more enjoyable.

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