March 21, 2020

What We Can - and Should - Do.

Some of this is echoed in social media already, but expanded-upon and revised, so give it a read – even if you already have recently:

I’m trying to avoid typing any buzzwords here - that's not the sort of click-bait sorta stuff I'm into; but, if you're reading this in the early days of Spring 2020, well - ha - you should probably know what I'm on about.

Right about now I'd much rather be blogging about a successful 200km ride; but, clubs around the country - the world - have pulled the plug on their calendar of events. 

I normally shy away from social media, for various reasons; but lately, there isn't much else to do.  I found myself falling into a dark web-hole, unfortunately, reading about lots of cycling stories taking on a dark light amid misinformation, maybe fear, and realized that we - as cyclists - do have a larger responsibility to one another and to the communities with which we often interact.  With everyone essentially being told to stay indoors and not travel anywhere, we cyclists tend to stick out like a sore thumb if we choose to venture out solo.  Professionals and amateurs alike, most of what we love is gone right now.  However, for many of us (your author included) cycling is something we desperately need on a deep, mental level.  So, we are heading out solo.  According to city, county and state governments in even the most tightly locked-down communities like NYC and San Fran, this activity is still considered acceptable, so long as it is not done as a group. 

Locally, my county is on a hot-list now, with news articles coming out from surrounding, rural counties recommending a 14-day self-quarantine if you have visited the K.C. metro area recently.  What does that look like, from their perspective, when a lone cyclist rolls through their town, then? 

It got me thinking about our responsibilities as long-distance cyclists.  Even though I am okay to bicycle solo, I could introduce risk to small-town c-stores at which I might normally stop for resupply. 

Consider that these stores are often THE gathering place and perhaps the sole source of groceries for these small towns.  Though I am symptom-free, the folks in these towns don't know that, and shouldn't have to wonder about me and my impact on them.  Golden Rule stuff.

To my fellow cyclists out for big miles these days:  consider the opportunity to train for the long-haul:  I can think of a few local brevet routes that have 60-plus mile sections between controls, often a logistical challenge.  This is the time to train for such rides.  Roll heavy.  Pack extra water and food. 

While I like to think we help support these communities with our purchases, we can - and should - pick that up again in earnest on the other side of all of this.  In the meantime, pack like you're on a long, self-supported tour, and just move on through, keeping a safe distance as you do, and don't needlessly hack or spit on the roadside near anyone, or anyone's home.  Wait for a clear ditch in the middle of nowhere.  Heck, that's a good guideline in the best of times ... imagine being a homeowner, on your own, quiet patch of land ... and some random guy on a bicycle hocks a fat one on, essentially, your front lawn.  That's just rude, regardless.  Put that in your cheek and wait, or spit down the front of your baselayer.  You're already disgusting anyway, right? 

Think beyond the moment.  Golden Rule... repeat... 

Just honest, simple steps like these can go a long way.  While cycling is often ALL about us, remember it really isn't about us right now in these regards.

Finally ... be smart.

Don't needlessly inject yourself into the healthcare stream: ride with your head as much as your legs: be safe, be seen, be courteous, be conscious, be aware, wear a helmet, and don't take unnecessary risks.  Imagine if you do fall, and end up in the ER: likely right where no-one wants to, nor should be, right now.  Don't pull healthcare and first-responder resources away from where they're truly needed by being an irresponsible jack-wagon on your bike.  Traffic counts are low, which makes for some good riding ... but, please be smart and avoid complacency, and don't become an accessory statistic. 

I look forward to better times when we can all get together en masse once more.  I dream of a 15-strong pace-line on a glorious stretch of country farm road, and a cold beer waiting at a CROWDED bar at the finish.  That will be sweet, and I won't even care if I can't get a table.  I'll happily stand shoulder-to-shoulder once more with my fellow cyclists, friends, and strangers.

In the meantime, be good to each other.

Thanks for reading, as always.

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