Ride or hide?

The Soma Double Cross in townie configuration.

Larry and Pat O’B have been discussing the merits of forgoing outdoor cycling for the moment.

There is some merit to the idea of giving it a miss, especially in Italy, where the toll has been particularly fierce and the authorities want everyone indoors save for brief food-gathering expeditions and other critical tasks.

That sort of lockdown has yet to come to Albuquerque. And I’ve been hobbled for nearly a month. So naturally I’m itching to ride.

But. …

Yesterday I walked for a half-hour, covering a little more than a mile, and that felt nice too.

So, I’m thinking that despite what you see on social-distance media about cycling being The Next Big Thing® (always with TNBT®, our people), it might be politic to ride the trainer indoors and save the outdoor cycling for business trips. Like, say, rides to the grocery.

It’s good PR. And it comes with a couple of side benefits.

One, unless you’re me, you are unlikely to fall off your own two feet and become an unwelcome burden to an already-overtaxed medical-industrial complex.

And two, unless you own a cargo bike and a pair of thunder-thighs, it will curb the human impulse to hoard. The average Joe/Jane can only carry so much in a basket or a backpack.

Thoughts? Sound off in comments.

34 Responses to “Ride or hide?”

  1. Jeff Cozad Says:

    I pretty much have been doping most of my cycling in the basement on the trainer. That’s basically foe two reasons:

    1) For all of the structured work, I’d be way too tunnel visioned. I’d be running into things and things would be running into me.

    2) I’ve become soft with respect to the weather. I am not interested in riding in the rain and cold. Not that I haven’t but it’s supposed to be fun.

    As the weather getting better here on the east coast of Iowa, I’ll start doing the long work outside.

  2. Stan Thomas Says:

    Oh c’mon, you’re playing into their hands. You are more likely to fall over in the shower and crack your skull – I trust you wear your helmet in the shower, or crash your car, or, in the States, get shot, than hurting yourself so badly cycling that you need hospital treatment. Get out in the open air, ride your bike, walk the dog, just don’t stop at cafe.
    They, the one’s you’re trying to placate with your good PR, hate you anyway, whether you’re riding your bike or not.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Stan, you and Jeff have a point. If it gets really nice this weekend like the weatherman is saying, I will be forced to pick a low traffic route and go for it. I have only ridden 3 times in the last 6 weeks, so I am also a little soft in the legs and head. Time to HTFU, as one tough German rider used to say.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Well, in my case, I’ve already fallen off my own two feet, and as a consequence been to the emergency-care place (once) and to the foot doctor (twice). So maybe I should wear a helmet in the shower.

      Also, the likelihood of my falling off the bike and going back to the docs has gotten a little greater ’cause I still don’t have full use of the right ankle and am riding unfamiliar flat pedals, with one foot in a brace, in a town full of cyclists who give you the buzz-pass without warning and motorists on a toilet-paper run who can’t drive a straight line on a sunny day when they’re not half in the bag, masked, and shitting cupcakes over whether a sneeze is merely a sneeze or, you know, the big sneeze.

      Anyway, my thinking was more about if The Authorities say, “Bunker up, bitches.” Then I’ll cycle strictly indoors or to the grocery. I expect a strong plurality of cyclists to ignore any such instructions, same way they do stop signs, red lights, and common courtesy.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        A shelter in place order from headquarters will change everything. Then I become a pedestrian for the duration of this shit storm. Like I have said before, this situation shows us the value of the social contract in the good old US. And, it ain’t worth much.

  3. khal spencer Says:

    One has to balance fitness and mental health with minimizing risk. I’m riding conservatively to avoid showing up in an ER but as far as showing up in an ER, I can probably arrange to do that if I stay home, since so many accidents happen in the home. I tore up my rotator cuff in the driveway, and Meena broke her ribs falling down some stairs back when we lived in BombTown. I’ll put off any 50 mph descents down Hyde Park Road for now.

    Group rides when it is possible to inhale someone else’s farts, sneezes, or snot rockets are out. But I like to ride alone anyway, especially since back when I raced, I often was pulling lantern rouge duty anyway so i got used to the solitude.

    I babbled on about this yesterday over here.


  4. khal spencer Says:

    I suppose if one rides a town bike with panniers or a basket, one can always “look” like it is a utility trip even if its a bike trip for its own sake.

  5. Stan Thomas Says:

    Here you go, a cycling specific face mask:

    So you can ride your bike and they won’t know it’s you 🙂

  6. Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

    The “If I was in Italy, I wouldn’t ride either.” is a throw-away line, sorry. I’ve updated my most recent “Stay Safe. Stay Home” blog post to give you folks some perspective as the USA cases will likely exceed the numbers here in Italy very soon. Stay Safe. Stay Home.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I expect New Mexico is close to following California’s lead (go home, stay home). The guv here has been moving pretty quickly, all things considered.

      Both of us are old hands at working from home. As regards recreation, Herself has a number of exercise routines she practices in bad weather, and I have my trusty Cateye CS-1000 trainer (I can’t believe the damn thing still works).

      We have about 10 days’ worth of vittles on hand for ourselves (and two cases of cat food for Miss Mia Sopaipilla). So we’re all good here.

      You folks take it low and slow out there. We’ll be providing the usual irregular updates from here. Please keep us up to date as regards conditions in your far-flung necks of the dark and scary woods.

  7. Shawn in the Gorge Says:

    Late night comment before I wander off to bed: Are there any viralogists out there who can tell me the odds of picking up the covid-19 virus while riding outdoors in an area with a proportional few diagnosed cases. As long as you are not riding within 20 feet of a pedestrian or another rider, or in traffic amongst cars with the windows down, or stopping and touching an item that isn’t you or your bike, I can imagine the odds are very low that you would pickup the virus. I agree that in an area where a stay in your home quarantine is mandated, not riding your bike outdoors is a wise societal decision. In my area I see quite a few people out walking on a running track separated by appropriate distances, and think it is better that they are keeping their fitness and mental sanity appeased. I have the fortune of living in a semi-rural area that as yet to see direct “diagnosed” effects of the virus. When those occur, I’m curious to see if the outdoor walking decreases.

    and finally and with full respect to Larry and the beautiful people of Italy; I did get out on my road bike this afternoon (Thursday) and put in a few miles on a rural road.

    • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

      Don’t bother “respecting” me. It’s the pandemic you need to respect as the issue is not just about YOU and whether you get infected. What part of the “we’re all in this together” don’t you understand?
      Don’t take my advice, try taking MPCC’s if you prefer: “Not going out is the answer to two potential issues: contaminating the others, and having an accident that would overcrowd the hospitals even more. Before anything else, cyclists are global citizens. Solidarity is a crucial value that sport must encourage, especially in these circumstances. We sincerely hope that our individual behaviors and our collective will are key to defeat this pandemic.”
      Please (with full respect) note they didn’t add anything relating to where on earth you might live.

    • Herb from Michigan Says:

      I’m in the same space with Shawn. Only 1/2 mile from a local and rural rail/trail. If it were not still wet and wintry I would be taking some rides albeit with great caution. I see that as far less risk to mankind than grocery shopping or pumping gas. But if my region or state declares shelter in place, well the bike would get hung up. I wouldn’t think of riding a bike or maybe even walking where there is vehicle traffic. With the increase of texting, emailing and face timing I will bet there will be plenty more distracted drivers. The strange paradox is we all know that the enormous space we have between where we live and work is a huge root of fossil fuel waste and human time. Yet this space theoretically works in favor of slower infection spreads. On the other hand, people drag home the virus from 45 miles away to create yet another pocket of infected people. Will expansion of mass transit be doomed? Does this mean the dreaded urban sprawl returns?
      This world will be forever changed. In the back of my tiny brain I wonder if Americans will now take global warming seriously now that they see how quickly we can all be touched by disasters.

      • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

        “I wonder if Americans will now take global warming seriously now that they see how quickly we can all be touched by disasters.” I wondered about that myself…briefly. Any hope I had was dashed quickly by the reports of panic-buying/hoarding of toilet-paper and bullets combined with my memories of the gas-crunch of the 1970’s. Nobody in the USA under 80 has ever been asked to sacrifice anything for the greater good. I guess their response should be no surprise, but it’s sad just the same.
        Now I’m wondering if Covid-19 might be Ma Nature’s fastball to the heads of the citizens of earth who have been pumping noxious man-made gases into her atmosphere since the late 18th century? She threw us a curve ball in 1918 with the Spanish flu but we’ve always adapted to or simply ignored her warnings. If she kills off a few hundred million of us with Covid-19 and puts a serious dent in man’s activity might the clearer skies and waters that have rapidly resulted from this pandemic become more permanent and last until Greta Thunberg and her generation can grab the levers of power and make some real changes? I’ll be long-gone by then but one can hope for future generations, right?

        • Dale Says:

          Speaking of bullets: Yesterday I traveled with a friend to buy some supplies to make a blue crab trotline. On the way we passed a small gun shop – the parking lot was overflowing. Some people?

          Just saying.

    • khal spencer Says:

      I doubt anyone has numbers as far as probabilities but if you are in a rural area with very few around, the chances of a stray virus wafting your way are pretty low. On the other hand if the one person whom you pass on singletrack happens to sneeze in your general direction just as you ride by, sucks to be you if they have COVID. My concern is not singletrack but having to go shopping for vittles and wondering who sneezed on the lettuce.

      I tweeted Bill Strickland about Bicycling’s advice to stay six feet apart. Six feet apart in bicycling means you will get nailed if the person in front of you sneezes. No pacelines. If you ride, ride alone. I think they changed their article.

      Minimize risk but don’t go batshit crazy doing so. Stay away from people. Being taken to the ER in a straitjacket ain’t good for much. Humanity will get through this. Casualties, yes. FDR said it best: we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Well, I would add stupidity and fear.

      As far as humanity? Disagree with Larry. For every Greta, assuming she doesn’t get infected by SUV Disease, there are probably ten who don’t give a rat’s ass. Best thing for the earth would be another 10 km asteroid impact to get rid of us once and for all.The earth always recovers and goes its own way. At least for the next billion years, anyway, till the Sun gets to carbon burning, expands, and roasts Ma Earth to a cinder.

  8. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Yesterday I observed people’s behavior while driving, walking, buying groceries for the weekend, and at a small and unavoidable HOA meeting to shutter our common areas and facilities. What I observed was not encouraging except from a very few people. I am staying at home except for walking the dog. We will also take a walk, like the song says, “just the two of us.” We have two trusted friends here, and we will look out for each other. You all stay safe and healthy. Thanks to Patrick, we have a place to safely gather and support each other.

  9. JD Dallager Says:

    For better or for worse…..an apparently well-researched piece at NYT: https://nyti.ms/3a5IvY5

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, lots of stuff along the same lines out there. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones is doing yeoman’s work staying on top of the data (he is a total conehead and neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie who suffers from multiple myeloma and thus has a working familiarity with the medical-industrial complex).

      The Atlantic has another good piece with similar numbers. If you can call such information “good,” that is. …

  10. B Lester Says:

    Here in South Central Wisconsin, we have lost the snowpack and the weather is finally about to be conducive to riding. I have access to a long meandering paved section of the Ice Age Trail about .2 mile from my house. I understand the intent behind the idea to not go out. But if distances are maintained, I struggle with the idea that solitary riding should be banned, at least here. I may be speaking from the privileged plateau of living in a light density, semi-urban area, so my bias is exposed.

    Tomorrow I make a 500 mile round trip to empty my daughter’s dorm at the university she attends. Or at least used to attend. She’s due to get a BS in Biology in May. She’s got senior/graduate level classes in cancer biology and molecular genetics to finish. How you do those labs online is as yet tbd. I worry that she needs these skills and won’t have the chance to get them. I know there are greater concerns, but this too concerns me.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, that’s gotta be a concern, no? All the kids who’ve invested years (and uncounted dollars) in higher education to get pulled short of the finish line?

      It’s one thing if you’re studying some bullshit like journalism (I speak from experience here). Whole other thing if you’re in the sciences.

      But hey, who needs the sciences, amirite? We all have our own “facts” to keep us feeling good, and that should be enough.

      • B Lester Says:

        Thanks for keeping it light, mon ame. I come here for higher quality snark than can be conjured anywhere else. Keep up the great work!

        When this bullshit situ clears, and I retire in a year or three, I’ll be down to assume the lantern rouge on an old guys ride.


    • khal spencer Says:

      My brother left Buffalo today to pick up my niece Olivia from SUNY Purchase, which is being emptied out. Apparently several cases of The Plague there. Not a great way to end a semester.

      ‘Liv is a fine arts major and a pretty good one. We tease her that she got all the Bonati art and music genes. I can barely play the stereo.

      • B Lester Says:

        “I can barely play the stereo.”

        Oy… Now that’s why this place is fun.

        Keep the rubber side down, broheme.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Kids are getting the heave-ho from the dorms at UNM, too, sez the Journal.

        Back in the Day® an order like that would have severely impacted my herb dealership.

        • khal spencer Says:

          I guess there are exceptions if you are a student with nowhere to go, which is good. Back my first few years of college, if I had gone home to my parent’s house it might have precipitated a brawl with my stepdad. Several times I had to cobble together living arrangements when the U of Rochester tossed us out at the end of the semester. I recall sleeping in the Biology Building 2nd floor lounge a few times.

          The old man and I long ago buried whatever hatchets we had back in those days and we are pretty close now. Its amazing how life can change a man. For that matter, how it can change two of them.

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