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Jun-11-20 12:59 pm
Category: Social

How is that beside the point?  If you contract the virus, you get it from another individual.  The only relevance of the group is that the likelihood of at least one infected individual in the group increases with the size of the group -- and that assumes you have contact with every member of the group.  If you spread the virus, you spread it to another individual.  In that case, the only relevance of the group is that there are more possible contacts, emphasis on "possible".  That, by the way, is how "herd immunity" works -- as more people become infected and recover, the pool of potential infecting agents is reduced, reducing the likelihood of any one encounter resulting in infection.  In my previous reply I enumerated some commonsense social distancing guidelines that could be applied to group rides and marginally reduce the already extremely low probability of contracting or spreading the infection.

The only way a group bike ride could be a threat to the community's health is if an infected rider shows up for a ride and transmits the disease to another rider who then goes out to transmit it to others.  As I've already shown, the probability of something like that happening is so small as to be negligible.

Jun-11-20 11:12 am
Category: Social

Ed, I realize we're a social club and not an essential business, but that is really irrelevant to the question of safety.  I think I pretty thoroughly made the case in my post (I also had links to my sources, but the links don't stand out very well) that the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 from group bike riding is EXTREMELY small, much smaller, in fact, than the risk of getting seriously injured or even killed in a bicycle accident.  I know this is anecdotal, but in more than 30 years of riding with the BBC, I cannot recall a single case of a rider on a group ride contracting an infectious disease from another rider.  But I recall plenty of cases where cyclists have been seriously injured (and in a few cases killed) on group rides.  Should we then discontinue all group rides because of the risk of injury or death?  After all, we're "non-essential".  Shouldn't the same logic also apply when coronavirus isn't a threat?

The purpose of the BBC and all recreational cycling clubs is to facilitate people getting together to go on bike rides.  If all we wanted to do was ride alone, we wouldn't need a club.  We're adults.  We are capable of assessing the risks and making intelligent decisions on whether or not to ride, alone or in a group.  It is not the place of a bike club to put up barriers to riding.

That said, there are some things that might marginally reduce the already insignificant risk even more.

1.  Have ride leaders post cue sheets to the cue library rather than handing out paper copies at the ride start.  Those going on the ride could then download them and print their own copies, thus eliminating one interpersonal contact.

2.  Have riders sign in for the ride on line.  This eliminates another interpersonal contact.  There might be a legal issue here, since one of the purposes of signing in is to absolve the club of liability, but it could be worked out.  I digitally sign my tax returns every year.

3.  Don't draft the rider in front of you.  You shouldn't be doing this anyway on a recreational ride.  You're not in race, and drafting definitely increases the risk of injury irrespective of coronavirus.

4.  No "snot rockets" (in case the rider drafting you didn't read point #3).  Carry a handkerchief tucked in your waist band or in your rear jersey pocket to expel that nasty stuff into.

5.  Finally, dispense, for now, with the high-fives and hugs at the ride start.

Notice that I didn't say anything about masks.  That is because masks are unnecessary outdoors, even at the ride start.  Just keep a prudent distance from others.

Jun-10-20 01:28 pm
Category: Social

It’s time for the BBC to end its self-imposed lockdown.  In fact, the board never should have canceled club rides to begin with.  Of all possible activities that could put you at risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 – or almost any other infectious disease, for that matter – club cycling would have to count as one of the least risky.

The first thing we need to understand about disease transmission is that it is largely a crap shoot.  Short of being sealed inside an airtight container, there is no way to guarantee you won’t become infected, or, if already infected, spread your infection to someone else.  You can really only talk about the probability of becoming infected.  Even a vaccine won’t guarantee that you won’t become infected.  First of all, we may never have a vaccine for COVID-19 – we don’t have vaccines for a lot of infectious diseases.  Second, any vaccine developed won’t be 100 percent effective and may only last a short time.  Third, viruses mutate into strains that resist the specialized antibodies the creation of which the vaccine is supposed to stimulate.  Already we know that flu vaccines are only effective about half the time.

Just because something can happen doesn’t mean it will.  We need to look at all the things that would have to happen in order for someone to become infected on a club ride.

In order to become infected by another rider, the first thing that would have to happen is that an infected person actually show up for the ride.  There are two possibilities:  the person could be symptomatic or asymptomatic.  What is the likelihood of a symptomatic person going for a bike ride?  Do you feel like riding when you have the flu?  You probably won’t feel like riding if you have COVID-19 symptoms either.  Professional cyclists, for whom money was at stake, have dropped out of the Tour de France when they came down with the flu, and it wasn’t to avoid infecting other riders.  The other possibility is that the infected rider could be asymptomatic.  Although the World Health Organization keeps flip-flopping on this issue, the only scientific study done so far suggests that the likelihood of an asymptomatic carrier spreading the virus is extremely small.

The second thing that would have to happen is that, given that an infected rider has shown up for the ride, you would have to acquire an infectious dose from him or her.  How likely is that?  It depends on a lot of things – the nature of your contact with the infected rider, the viral load he/she carries, the number of virus particles you take into your body, and your innate immune system’s ability to handle the virus particles you’ve taken in.  For COVID-19, estimates of the size of an infectious dose range from the hundreds to the thousands. However, as a cyclist you already have an advantage, as aerobic activity has been shown to have beneficial effects on your immune system, and it will take a higher dose to infect you than it would a sedentary person.  (And if you did become infected, you would be much more likely to survive the infection).

However, the main factor making infection extremely unlikely is being outdoors.  This is another issue on which the “experts” have been ambiguous.  However, in a recent study of 318 outbreaks of COVID-19, only one occurred in an outdoor environment.  And it is evident why:  outdoors, the air is constantly moving.  Even when there is no wind, you still have convection currents.  According to WHO, COVID-19 is not airborne.  It is transmitted in droplets.  The larger ones fall to the ground, almost always within one meter of the point of expulsion; the smaller ones (called aerosol) evaporate.  To get an infectious dose, you would have to be standing very close to the infected carrier for a sustained period of time.

Two articles linked to on this site suggested you could become infected while riding behind or beside an infected rider.  However, neither article took into account air movement independent of riders’ forward motion, and actually didn’t take very good account of the latter either.  One article was based on a wind tunnel experiment.  Wind tunnels may be great for testing the aerodynamic characteristics of bike frames and wheelsets, but they really don’t duplicate actual conditions on the road.  For one thing, a wind tunnel is an enclosed environment, leaving nowhere for the particles to go.  The other article, written by a pathobiologist who is also president of the Potomac Pedalers, suggested you could become infected by riding through the “respiratory signature” – a cloud of droplets – of the rider in front.  However the cloud is broken up as soon as it is emitted, and then sucked back into the slipstream of the rider who emitted it.  All this turbulence, and the fact that the larger droplets are falling to the ground while the smaller droplets are evaporating means few, if any, will be left for a rider following behind to inhale.

In my view, a rider is far more likely to be injured, or even killed, in a cycling accident than to become infected with COVID-19 while on a group bike ride.

Nov-21-19 01:26 pm
Roads of the Cumberland Valley
Category: Social
Forum: Ride Reports

Hi All,

Those of you who were at the banquet last Saturday might remember the video I showed, "Roads of the Cumberland Valley" and my mentioning that I was still struggling to get a decent version published on YouTube.  Well, after much trial-and-error (and much internet searching) I finally did it.  Here's the link:  Roads of the Cumberland Valley.  This is the kind of riding we do at the Greencastle Great Escape.  Notice that all the roads are all downhill all the time (just kidding).  Enjoy

Phil Manger

p.s.  I don't really ride this fast, and the mountains are a lot closer than they look.  Both distortions are artifacts of the short focal length of my GoPro.

I might, but I'll have to find the time to drive the route first.  I rode it by myself on July 31 and ran into three fresh tar-and-chip sections and later a road closure.  I should have driven the route before posting the ride.

The weather forecast has changed dramatically since I posted this ride yesterday.  Weather.com predicts a 90 percent chance of rain in Greencastle Saturday, 100 percent in Spring Run.  I can't wait until the end of the week to cancel because, if I lead this ride, I'll have to make arrangements for my dog.

Old Forge Road is now open again.

Old Forge Road, between South Mountain Road and Mentzer Gap Road, will be closed to through traffic beginning June 5 for bridge replacement.  Unfortunately, there are no good detours around the construction.  Rides affected by the closure include the South Mountain ride on the Greencastle Great Escape, the latest version of the Red Rum ride, and, depending on how long the project takes, the Caledonia ride on the Washington County Getaway.

Jul-23-16 02:31 pm
will soon be legal in PA
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

In-the-ground traffic light sensors are induction loops, not as many think, weight sensitive.

Actually, the older sensors I believe were weight-sensitive.  To be detected, you had to run a wheel over a treadle embedded in the road.  I haven't seen one in several years, so I supposed they were all eventually replaced by induction loops.  Regardless, in my experience, neither could detect bicycles, even ones with steel frames.

And if I remember correctly, Maryland law already allows one to do what Pa is now adopting.

I'm pretty sure Maryland law didn't allow that when I moved out of the state three years ago.  If it did, none of the people I rode with was aware of it.  Here's a link that lists the "safe-on-red" states as of one year ago:  States where motorcycles can run red lights legally

Jul-23-16 10:50 am
will soon be legal in PA
Category: Social
Forum: Advocacy

For years one of my pet peeves as a cyclist has been traffic lights with sensors that trigger a green light only when they detect a vehicle waiting to cross.  Bicycles don't have enough weight or enough metal to trigger these sensors, and since I don't like to break traffic laws when motorists can see me (I don't want to give them an excuse to break laws that protect cyclists), I usually have to wait until a car or truck comes along to cause the light to change to green.

Now, here in the enlightened Keystone State, I won't have to do that anymore.  On September 18 a new law will take effect that "allows drivers to proceed through red lights if the light has a sensor that appears to be malfunctioning":
New law: Pa. drivers can run red lights — under certain circumstances

That should take care of that pesky light where Granite Station Road crosses U.S. 30!  Now all we need is for you folks south of the Mason-Dixon line to start bugging your legislators.

Phil

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