We have had numerous discussions within the committee and with other club members over the last few days, trying to take stock of the advice that has been issued on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) threat. The latest government advice is to avoid non-essential contact with others, including visits to pubs and clubs.
In the short term (starting with the rides on Wednesday 18 March) we plan to continue to offer club rides, but to change the way they operate, as follows:
- Continue with current outdoor meeting points at the start of the ride, though naturally we should avoid contact with other riders.
- Abandon organised coffee and lunch stops (many of our usual venues for these will in any case probably choose to be closed for business from organised groups in light of advice). Instead, we will ask ride leaders to prepare and advertise a route that allows for a scheduled stop at around half way to enable riders to rest and to take food and drink that they have brought with them on the ride. This is likely to mean that planned routes are shorter than normal on all-day Wednesday and Sunday rides.
- Adapt riding in groups by forming smaller sub-groups (4-5 per group), and ensuring reasonable distance between riders and between groups. This should still permit the normal patterns of signposting and generally looking out for fellow riders (e.g. in the event of punctures or technical or navigational difficulties).
- All riders to take extra care to be considerate, not to endanger fellow riders, and to take particular care with respect to any “emissions” that might provide a transmission mechanism for viruses.
We recognise that some club members will choose not to participate on club rides during this period. That is a choice that each of you will make according to your own personal circumstances, health, age and attitude to risk. We would, however, insist that any member who feels that they are or might be suffering from the symptoms of a flu-like virus (high temperature, coughs, breathing difficulties etc.) stays safely at home until such concerns can be dismissed. The same applies to those who have been in recent contact with others who have exhibited such symptoms, or who have had recent contact with known COVID-19 hot spots.
Whether the approach outlined here can be viable beyond the current week must depend on the official advice we receive from the government and its experts. For example, if/when advice is issued requiring all vulnerable persons to be “shielded from social contact” it is hard to see how attendance on a club ride would be a sensible course of action for such people, and it is possible that restrictions on non-essential movements will be increased still further in the coming weeks.
Even if it turns out that club rides cannot easily be operated, we hope that club members can and will use existing communication mechanisms and friendship groups to look out for one another, and (where applicable) perhaps to engage in smaller impromptu ride groupings during these testing times.