Mountain Biking

Tips for the mountain biker trying to stay active while social distancing – USA TODAY

Editor’s note: Part eight of USA TODAY’s Working Out From Home (#WOFH) series focuses on getting some exercise while getting out on your mountain bike. Sign up for Good Sports, our weekly newsletter that will bring you more home workout tips + stories of the good throughout the world of sports:

In California, where Gavin Newsom became the first governor to enact stay-at-home restrictions on March 19, cyclists, runners, surfers and many other types of athletes have sought clarity on where they’re allowed to ride or train outdoors.

Susie Murphy, executive director of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, has been working to inform the group’s members where it’s legal to ride (a list that’s constantly changing), while also trying to provide tips for staying safe if you do find a trail that’s open. 

“It’s hard for the average person to understand the difference between your local city, the county and then what’s state and what’s federal,” Murphy said. “When the city of San Diego says, ‘Everything’s closed,’ but the county says, ‘We’re open,’ it’s really confusing for people. We’ve been trying to do a lot of education, which I’m sure many groups around the country are, about who manages what.”

So do your research before you head out. When you do get to the trail, respect the signage because rangers and land managers are stretched thin, Murphy says. 

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She is concerned for the parks that remain open because they’re getting overrun by people, just like the beaches.

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski rides the trails at Lake Accotink Park in Springfield, Virginia, in 2008.

“Agencies were a little lenient, and then the last two weekends people really flocked outside and then they’ve had to up their restrictions,” she said. “We’ll see if that keeps happening. For me as a trail advocate and outdoor recreation advocate, all of us are trying to figure out ways when we do resolve this or at least come to some kind of normal, how do we impress upon elected officials and agencies how important trails are and open spaces, public lands. People want to be outside.”

Here are some tips to follow from the California Mountain Biking Coalition, of which Murphy is a board member:

  • Stay at home if you’re sick. Work on your bike, watch videos, but stay off the trail.
  • Maintain a minimum of 2-3 bike lengths between riders, on and off the trail. Allow ample passing room for other trail users.
  • Go for a solo spin. Tell people where you’re heading, then head out. 
  • Or keep it small. Ride with others in your household. 
  • Stick to open parks. Find a lesser-used trailhead and refrain from driving to get there. Murphy points out that some trails are located in smaller communities with limited parking. “It’s better to stay close to home,” she said. “If you can leave from your door, do that and don’t drive.”
  • Slow it down. Ride smart, ride safe. Now is not the time to push your skills and end up in the ER.
  • Take care of business before you head out. Many public restrooms are closed. 
  • No sharing of food, drinks or tools.
  • Bring a small to-go kit with you with hand sanitizer or wipes. 
  • Support local. If you’re buying new gear, start with you local bike shop. Murphy notes the federal government released guidance on essential workers that covers employees supporting personal and commercial transportation services – including bicycle maintenance.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Working Out From Home series to get more ideas and tips on staying active and exercising while social distancing