Safe Cycling Guide

This was last updated on March, 2021.  It will be updated as soon as new information becomes available.  We encourage everyone to monitor their local health departments and local governments to stay informed.


Your safety is paramount but is also your responsiblity.  GLUC will continue to encourage and enforce its COVID-19 safety policies for as long as there is risk to everyone.  We feel that learning to ride in a safe way now is more important than ever.  We all look forward to the day when the pandemic becomes a thing of the past.

The focus of Great Lakes Ultra Cycling this year is to provide opportunities for people to ride long distances while maintain safe distance.  While we might think this is new most of it actually is not, there are all kinds of advantages to many of the techniques.  They have the advantage of protecting from much more than COVID-19.

General Information

First and foremost, everyone who has not read CDC Prevention Guide, please do so.  You need to read the entire CDC site - and read it frequently as things change, but the salient points are:

Know how it spreads (from the CDC):

  • The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person but can linger for long periods of time
    •  Between people who are in close contact with one another, particularly indoors
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes or breathes
    • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
  • Vaccination is not a guarantee and will not be widespread for some months.  We need to maintain our vigilence for a little while longer.  Let's not spike the ball on the 5 yard line!  Get vaccinated as soon as you can, but still work to keep us all safe.

From a cycling perspective, droplets can be expelled during exercise and there is greater worry that transmission may occur from people that are not showing any or very mild symptoms.  This is why it is SO important not to ride if you or anyone you have been near in the last two weeks has been ill, why it is CRITICAL that you maintain as great a distance from others as possible, and why riding at a slower, more deliberate pace that does not push you too hard is important.

Protect Yourself (from the CDC):

  • Wash your hands!  That means for 20 seconds with soap and water
  • Use hand sanitizer if you don’t have soap and water, but know the limitations of it particularly if you have a lot of dirt on your hands (from changing a tire or other mechanical issue for example).  Properly using hand sanitizer requires an amount the size of a quarter to a half dollar on your hand.  Don't use too little.
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands – this is VERY hard to learn, but will substantially reduce your risk of getting many things. HINT: do things like opening doors or picking up items with your non-dominant hand - use it for "dirty" things - keep your dominant hand clean.
  • Avoid getting closer than 6 ft to others and farther is an advantage as well.  This is a skill we have to practice so that it becomes automatic.  Otherwise, when you get tired, you will inevitably screw up and not do it.

Protect Others (from the CDC):

  • Stay home if you don’t feel well or someone in your household isn’t well or people you have had contact with in the last two week are not well. <- THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT.
  • Stay clean and disinfect surfaces
    • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
    • Throw used tissues in the trash
    • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • GLUC mandates masks in all indoor spaces and where practical outside  
    • That is meant to protect others from someone without symptoms spreading the disease more than protecting you from getting it yourself.  Remember, droplets disperse very quickly, catching them as you breathe is the best reason to wear a mask. 

Know your threshold for risk

Many of our friends and family can fall into the major risk categories.  Know what they are on the CDC Website: CDC Extra Measure for High Risk

The salient points are:

  1. Age 65 or over (sounds like a lot of people I know) OR
  2. Living in a nursing home or long term care facility OR
  3. If you are the primary caregiver or live with someone who is high risk <- I'm adding this, it's something to consider  OR
  4. Are pregnant OR
  5. Have an underlying medical condition:
    1. Asthma (tons of us have it – pay attention)
    2. Heart conditions (that includes AFIB and “athlete’s heart”)
    3. Diabetes, liver issues, kidney trouble or ANYTHING else particularly if they are not under control
    4. On other immunosuppressive drugs for an autoimmune condition

Do the right thing for the right reason

Maintain social distance because you care, not out of fear

It's easy to be apathetic right now.  When we socially distance ourselves, we are doing it because we care about others as much as about ourselves.  It's protects those around us.

  1. Read the CDC Website and WHO websites for information or reputable sources for information.  Fact check what you hear on Facebook or from others.  Everyone means well but disinformation can spread easily.
  2. When you are wearing a face mask, know that you are doing it mainly to protect others.  
    1. Do it in addition to social distancing, don't relax your efforts because you have a mask on
    2. Don't go out in public if you know you have been exposed to COVID-19
  3. Don't stare or mock people who distance themselves in different ways; we are all in this together
  4. People are social animals, social distancing does not mean social isolation
    1. Find different ways to share your activities with others:  virtual ride services and sharing your solo ride experiences on social media are good ways to share our cycling experiences remotely
  5. Don't stigmatize those who are ill or whose situations are different from yours.  It's easy to fall into those patterns.

Guidelines for Riding

This is based on the above guidelines from the CDC.  It is vital that you understand what these steps are protecting against.

Before you ride:

  1. Do not ride at all if you are sick or not feeling 100%.  This is just good common sense.
  2. Keep your rides reasonable, it's not the time for serious training in a big pack. 
  3. If anyone you have recently had contact with is sick and/or COVID-19 is spreading in your area,  stay away from people, if you ride, do it solo or stay at home and do the trainer, yoga, cleaning, weights, etc.  
  4. Choose your route carefully to ensure that you are avoiding bad roads or congested areas – for the time being that may include bike trails which are frequently crowded with pedestrians.  Plan to maintain 6 ft of distance through your routing.
  5. Bring appropriate food and fluids and plan your stops carefully.  You don’t want to bonk right now.
  6. Set expectations accordingly.  Increase your fitness gradually so that you build a good base without stressing yourself. Moderate exercise boosts immunity, intense exercise can depress it.

During your ride:

  1. Ride at a comfortable pace that doesn’t overstress your cardiovascular system.  This is not the time to be setting PR expectations on the road.  Leave FTP and intervals for the trainer at home.
  2. Stay a 6 ft or more from other riders or farther and prefer riding solo or side by side (where traffic permits)
    1. Try not to DRAFT at a very close range - stay back.  Prefer a solo ride but if you are with someone, stay farther apart.  You can still chat at 6 ft.
    2. Do not pass other riders if you can’t do so from 6 ft of distance or more depending on conditions.  That may take more time or cause you to adjust your route.  That's fine right now.  Don't risk traffic to pass someone slower, adjust your route instead. 
    3. Stay far from pedestrians and non-cyclists outside.
    4. Pay careful attention at traffic stops - you don't want to bunch up with anyone else to avoid cars.  Stop far behind anyone else.
  3. Pay attention to ALL TRAFFIC LAWS.  You do not want to go to a emergency room.
  4. Wear a helmet that you clean before each ride.
  5. If you have to cough or sneeze, bend your elbow and cough in your elbow.
  6. Don’t be afraid to POLITELY call someone out who is not socially distancing on a ride.  This is about community and helping stay safe, and don’t be offended if someone reminds you.
  7. If you need to blow your nose or spit, drop far back before doing so.  
  8. Carry a bandana or handkerchief that won't dissolve in your pocket leaving a bunch of nasty stuff there. 
  9. When you stop:
    1. Take your gloves off and stash them or stash them on your bike
    2. Wear a mask indoors - this protects others and also demonstrates that you are aware - it can help you remember when you are tired not to do other things
    3. Park your bike at least 6 ft from anyone else (including cars)
    4. Use a face mask when you are not on the bike or eating
    5. Wash your hands immediately when you go inside with soap for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if you have it (FYI, hand sanitizer is NOT going to be effective if your hands are super dirty as they can be if you have to change a tire or mess with the chain)
    6. Prefer paying by credit card.  Most gas stations have moved to a no-signature policy and self service for this.  Prefer businesses that do.
      1.   Cash is filthy – if you must use it, tell the cashier to keep the change.
    7. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you put your gloves back on
    8. Stay 6 ft or more from people at all times when you are stopped for services.  Hard to remember, but get in the habit of drawing a mental line about 1 bike length away.
  10. Keep a mental count/list of those that you ride with (from a distance).  Ask people's names (which is friendlier to start with).

After the ride:

  1. Wash the bike! At least wash the handlebars and other common things you touch.  Especially zippers and bags, pumps and tools. 
  2. Get stuff off the bike.  Don’t leave a pile of gels or sticky garbage in your top tube bag.  Take only what you need or clean the packages with soap and water afterwards.
  3. Wash everything you wore after every ride.
  4. Take time to recover!  Eat well, rest, stretch and recover.
  5. Share your solo rides and training with friends via phone conversations, social media and other virtual outlets.
  6. If you become ill within 2 weeks of any GLUC ride or have a positive COVID test result, notify GLUC immediately along with a list of people you were near on the ride.  We will keep your identity confidential as much as possible, but we need to notify those riders to quarantine.