Trail Ramblings: What Is The Emerging Science As To The Risk From Cycling Outdoors?

From what I’ve been reading about Covid-19 transmission lately, the latest findings seem to indicate that being on a trail with cyclists, runners, and pedestrians while maintaining a six foot distance is a very low-risk activity if you’re in a low-risk group, especially if you and others are wearing masks. As for the preliminary study that had trail users panicking a month ago, this first article, from, says: “In other words, the “study” failed to consider two key questions: How easy is it for particles traveling in the air outdoors to infect you? And how many particles containing infectious virus would you have to inhale to become infected?” Read it at (You’ll have to cut and paste these to your browser yourself, as always) I know I’m breathing a little easier now. I’ve been riding in the city with a mask looped over one ear that I can pull over the other if I’m coming up on a group (under my helmet strap so that it doesn’t fly off.) The other article I’ve included, dealing with transmission, points to large groups of people in confined spaces, indoors or out, for extended amounts of time, as being the super spreading events we should all avoid. It includes a list, analyses, and the relative risk of a dozen different, common sites of possible transmission, including gyms and stadiums.

Some people get creative with their masks. Photo credit Pat Schoening.

Still, even though a low-risk activity, it’s best to keep in mind the possible danger of some group rides, especially if you’re drafting off someone breathing hard for a couple of hours. Other, more low-key and socially distanced group rides are creeping back, especially this past holiday weekend, and even with the rain. The trails had plenty of users, and the gravel wasn’t bad, though the dirt trails and roads were impassable.

Stay off those dirt trails, folks. I took the Jamaica North, South to run a errand Saturday and in the time it took to go and come back I already saw tracks leading off on at least one trail. The limestone was fine, not soft and puddles were avoidable. As for riding the dirt, don’t do it, it just wrecks the trails. Sunday turned out to be surprisingly fine and a great day for a ride to a winery and an impromptu picnic. I hope you all got out between the storms and enjoyed the holiday.