As we watch COVID-19 unfold in the U.S, and our bike racing be cancelled or postponed, I want to share some perspective and resources. This is not intended to be a scary message, but to address what we know about the current novel coronavirus pandemic with the attention it warrants. I speak from a coaching perspective, and with respect to current regional and clinical guidelines, using the best information we have to date. Please keep in mind this is a rapidly developing phenomena, and information may become quickly outdated, but I’m happy to speak with you at any time should you have questions about COVID as it relates to your cycling, personal, or family well-being.
As you may know, USA Cycling has placed a hold on event permits through the month of April. This decision was made after communicating with team directors and race coordinators, in adherence with CDC social distancing recommendations, and in an effort to slow community spread of the COVID-19 virus. Although it was a difficult decision, I believe it was the correct one. In response to recommendations from the State of Oregon, OBRA has also placed bike races on hiatus through the month of April. I believe Idaho has followed suit. This is tough to hear when you’ve been placing so much time and effort into training for events, but bike racing will resume, and we will adapt! If at any time you feel difficulty motivating to train without a specific race timeline, let me know – I empathize with this, and we can be creative with training.
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus which is spread, in-so-much as we know, by respiratory droplets (sputum, cough, sneezing) and by contact with virus-infected surfaces. Symptoms can range from flu-like respiratory illness, to severe respiratory symptomatology in susceptible persons, but we do not have a complete understanding of the extent of COVID-19 pathology and symptoms. Although there is a possibility we’ll see antibody therapy emerge to reduce the severity of symptoms in critically ill patients, we do not have a specific treatment or vaccine for this virus, and are unlikely to see one develop in the near or mid-term. Because of this, our primary form of infection control is via efforts to slow the rate of community spread by limiting contact of infected persons with non-infected persons (social distancing). This is essential for reducing morbidity and mortality in at risk populations including persons over 65 years, and immune compromised individuals, and reducing over-burden of the healthcare system, so that critically ill individuals can receive the care they require.
Based on current guidelines from the state of Oregon, CDC, World Health Organization, and New England Journal of Medicine, I recommend the following measures moving forward.
1. Take Social Distancing Seriously: This is the best method we have for slowing community transmission of this virus. Social distancing means keeping a distance of 3-6 feet from other persons when outside your home. When inside your home, exercise excellent hand washing hygiene (20-30 seconds with soapy water) and consider routine cleaning of communal surfaces (door knobs, sinks, countertops). Conservative estimates place transmission rates at a 2-4 ratio: i.e. one infected person will infect 2-4 other persons in the community. This is double to quadruple the infection rate of modern influenza.
2. Do not attend large group events: I strongly encourage you to ride alone or in very small groups, and avoid any contact with individuals displaying symptoms of cough and cold. I do not recommend attending large team rides, or unsanctioned riding events while COVID – 19 is active. While I think it is perfectly safe (and ENCOURAGED!) to ride outside, I urge you to ride alone, or with individuals with whom you already maintain daily personal contact (family, significant others, etc.). Just for now. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me.
3. Avoid social gatherings in restaurants, bars, bike shops etc. While this feels extreme, it’s appropriate based on what we know about this virus to date. I believe it’s important to maintain community and social contact, but for now, I strongly urge following social distancing recommendations. Our local businesses and bike shops will be experiencing a time of difficulty, and will need our support. If you want to support them, ask them how you can do that! My entire cycling career has been made possible by Sellwood Cycle Repair in Portland, and for this selfish reason, I encourage you to support your local shop. Buy some tubes and water bottles! Many of our local shops are also on-line merchants. When engaging in necessary social interactions (groceries, work etc.), exercise hand hygiene with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer, and social distancing.
4. Avoid the gym…this is an important one: Adapt strength workouts to be done at home. We are doing this ourselves and enjoying it. We are happy to help adapt workouts for home. We are working on a free in home strength workout to share with folks. Please follow our blog we will be posting some free resources in the near future.
5. If you display symptoms of COVID-19 including fever > 100.4 F and cough, do not rush to a medical facility. This advice is based on recommendations from the CDC, in an attempt to reduce COVID-19 caseloads at health care facilities. Most healthy individuals will experience symptom resolution in approximately 2 weeks, and should remain in quarantine until they are completely without symptoms. However, if you experience signs of respiratory distress such as shortness of breath, please seek medical attention.
6. Take a big breath, adjust, don’t panic. This too shall pass. COVID-19 should be taken seriously, and it will be a very interesting time in our lives, but it will pass. We will race bikes again, and in the meantime, we can support each other, enjoy riding our bikes, spending time in the outdoors, and with family. In the midst of uncertainty, we can find unexpected joy. Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you need help with training, or finding resources about COVID. We’re happy to help in any way we can, and we’re committed to helping you find joy in bikes, and meet your cycling goals, even if those goals shift a little this season (maybe we’ll have more racing in September!!).
National Institute of Health: https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
New England Journal of Medicine COVID-19 podcast updates (from a clinical case perspective, but useful information) : https://interactives.nejm.org/iv/playlist_branded/index.html?media_id=chsWAwUH
Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/topics/health-a-z/infectious-disease/
Ten Percent Happier Meditation Guide to Coronavirus: https://www.tenpercent.com/coronavirussanityguide
Please do not hesitate to contact us anytime with questions regarding this matter. Outside is open for bike riding! Just not in groups for now.
-Beth Ann, Anne and Chris