Article by Dr Jamie Brosch, Leisure Rider and Club Committee member.
As you may know from the club newsletter, your committee has been keeping a close eye on the government’s rapidly evolving social distancing rules and the more specific British Cycling guidance, regarding club activities.
Until now, the additional measures required to meet this guidance, safely, would have made leisure rides overly complicated and restrictive. During this time a number of small informal groups, has sprung up to fill the gap as these have not been limited by the same ‘Duty of Care’ and insurance considerations as club rides.
Recently though, there has been some relaxation of the advice and there is an increasing sense that, on balance, social outdoor activities should be actively encouraged.
A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes and the committee is confident that by the end of the month, all necessary steps can be taken, for club group rides to restart safely, meeting all current guidance.
We can never reduce the risk of transmission on a group ride to zero but we can reduce it to the same level as going about your daily business, e.g doing your shopping or filling your car with petrol.
As a doctor (who has already had COVID, despite following all advised risk-reduction at work) I have been a strong advocate against resuming club group rides too soon but I am convinced that the balance has now shifted in our favour.
The more relaxed guidance is supported by a genuine reduction in risk and there is no doubt that the physical and mental health benefits of group riding are substantial for most of us.
There has been concern that since restrictions were relaxed a month ago, the numbers of cases was rising nationally but this has levelled off and the numbers of COVID cases requiring medical care is stable or falling. Most of the reported spikes in numbers have been associated with indoor settings where those concerned are in close proximity for longer periods.
Overall, outdoor physical activity remains as good for you as it ever was and provided we all closely observe a “New Code of Conduct”, group riding can continue to offer the physical and social benefits it always has.
This ‘new code’ has been developed based on a rigorous, detailed Risk Assessment for Restarting Group Club Rides, taking account of all relevant external guidance. This risk assessment is available on the website (2020-08-20-CDW-Covid19-risk-assessment-v3.1.pdf) and will be reviewed and updated at things develop.
Safe group riding
What does the ‘New Code’ require of us, to ride safely in groups?
- Groups must not exceed six riders.
- Member details should be kept up-to-date on RiderHQ.
- No-one should ride with a group if they have had any of the key symptoms within the last 10 days or have been in contact with anyone with probable COVID infection within 14 days. See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection.
- Riders must maintain a minimum of one metre distancing and this must not be face to face. ie you may ride ‘line astern’ or side by side but if you want to chat face to face without a mask, you should revert to two metres.
- In the case of accidents or mechanical issues, riders must continue to reduce risk as much as possible. It is recommended that all riders carry a mask, disposable gloves and alcohol hand rub, to cover all eventualities.
- To ensure we know who has ridden together and that contacts can be traced, if required, we will operate an online booking system. As well as recording contact details, this will ensure we know how many riders to expect and therefore how many groups will be required.
- It also ensures that all riders will have read and understand the new code of conduct and come adequately prepared.
- Each group of six will have a nominated coordinator, to help ensure that we adapt smoothly and to offer feedback to the club on ‘what works’ and ‘what might be improved’. Please support them and heed their advice.
- Initially we will start all rides from Chippenham Sports Club. This will allow adequate space to distance appropriately and for groups to be refined. The start will be similar to the Club Audax Series and one of the coordinators will act as a starter, letting groups of six go at discrete intervals.
- At cafe stops, individual discretion and common sense must be applied and house rules obeyed. As we cannot predict how busy some of these venues may be. It may be necessary to find an alternative or even a ‘shop-stop’. In any case, riders should bring extra water/snacks, in case a timely stop is not possible.
For the 30th August, we have choose a ride which is as inclusive as possible, enabling us to observe the new code, comfortably, even if there is a large response. The ride details can be found at LR0050 to Chavenage and the Wild Carrot Cafe. A simple booking system has been put in place to record members intending to ride. Don’t panic; there will be no limit on overall numbers on Sunday 30th. If necessary we will run some smaller groups and I will be ‘The Starter’, ensuring that everyone finds a group.
The ride programme for September will be published following the successful operation of the ride to Chavenage.
We are confident that if we all follow this new code, as carefully as possible, the risks of group riding will be no greater than other aspects of our daily lives. As with any ride, it remains the responsibility of each rider to assess their individual risk and decide if they are comfortable with that. Over sixties, like me and those with other health issues may be at higher risk but may also feel that they stand to benefit more than average from group riding. Ultimately the decision to ride is always a personal one.
We look forward to seeing you all on Sunday 30th, for some safe sociable riding – full details to follow.