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Tips for Planning Your Pandemic Bike Tour

Mar 10, 2021
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The season for bicycle travel is upon us, and attentively planning the day-to-day of your bicycle tour has never been more important than during a pandemic. Your health and the health of everyone you meet are on the line. Along with the carefully laid plan of avoiding contracting and spreading COVID-19 is the extra research you’ll need to do regarding your destinations’ health guidelines, travel restrictions, testing requirements, and availability of services. As always, we’re here to help streamline the planning process so you can create safe, responsible adventures.

Of course, our number one piece of advice for those itching for adventure is to stick close to home, avoid high exposure, and be self-sufficient. During COVID-19, this is the safest way to travel and could be just the excuse you need to explore the hidden gems in your backyard. 

For those of you using this strange time devoid of events and obligations to tackle bigger adventures, we want to help you minimize risk and be prepared for a different kind of adventure. We all want to do our part to prevent and reduce the spread of this very contagious and deadly disease. 

Planning Your U.S. Bike Trip During Coronavirus

So far, the response to COVID-19 in the United States has been largely dictated on a local level. Each state has its own mandates regarding masks, quarantine, testing, travel, and business capacity. In some cases, restrictions will change county by county. It’s important to know the restrictions of the states and communities you’ll be traveling through, so you can not only follow the rules but also temper your expectations of how open or closed a community might be.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has excellent information on how to keep you and others safe from the spread of COVID-19. They also have a quick and easy tool for discovering each state’s health mandates called the Travel Planner. Use this Planner to find current information on every area your route explores, and check it often for updates. Mandates and restrictions can change quickly.

Reservations and Accommodations

On a long bike trip, most of us enjoy the flexibility of stopping when we’re tired or taking a detour or a day off whenever we please. During a pandemic, however, planning your days and your nights will set you up for a better experience. Along with the flux of state guidelines, accommodations — public and private campgrounds, hotels, Airbnb — have experienced a lot of uncertainty. Some accommodations have closed entirely or restricted the number of guests or the use of shared spaces like campground bathhouses. On top of that, accommodations are filling with reservations far in advance. Without a little prep work, you might find yourself without a desirable place to sleep. 

Bike Shops

When you need a bike shop on tour, you really need a bike shop. But with the bike boom and supply chain disruption of 2020, our local bike shops are struggling to stock bikes, replacement parts, and tools. While we have no doubt that bike shop staff will do everything in their power to get you back on the road, know that they might not have new tubes or tires or a compatible replacement derailleur. If a tree falls on your bike during a wind storm and snaps your handlebars in half, well, it might be six months until new handlebars are available. Be prepared, flexible, and understanding.

Services Along the Adventure Cycling Route Network

While we don't have the capacity to preemptively check all 30,000+ service listings across our network, we will continue to frequently update our Map Updates and Corrections system with the latest updates as we are made aware of them. During this time of instability for so many small communities and businesses, we recommend calling ahead when possible to ensure that a critical service will be open when you arrive.

Visiting Adventure Cycling

Visiting our office in Missoula is part of many cyclists’ journeys. Although we’re not currently allowing visitors into the entire building, we have set up our conference room as a greeting area this year. Call us at 406.721.1776 and we will come out and take you to our conference room!

Take a look at what we’re doing to protect staff and cyclists during the pandemic.

Safety Tips and COVID Etiquette

Once again, the CDC is the go-to source for tips on traveling during a pandemic. They even have suggestions for different scenarios like visiting a restaurant, park, or library. We highly recommend becoming familiar with their recommendations. They even have suggestions for coping with the pandemic-related stress, which we’re definitely all feeling. (And luckily for cyclists, exercise is on the list.)

For traveling cyclists, specifically, we’d like to point out some no-brainers and things you might not have considered.

Mask Up!

Wear a well-fitting mask anytime you go indoors or are in a public setting, and wear it correctly by covering both your nose and mouth. And since masks get dirty, bring a few with you and wash reusable masks often.

Be Self-Sufficient

Carry and/or cook your own food for the whole trip. If this is not always possible, wear a mask in grocery stores and seek out contactless meal pickup from restaurants. Avoid indoor spaces and crowds.

Communication

Be transparent and courteous with the myriad of trail angels you’re likely to encounter such as WarmShowers hosts. Talk about boundaries, shared spaces, and masks. Keep their health and safety top of mind along with your own.

Getting Sick

Avoid traveling and get tested if you feel sick or lose your sense of taste or smell. Be prepared to quarantine and end your trip if you get sick.

Wash Your Hands!

You’re probably tired of this one but that doesn’t make it less important. Twenty seconds of soapy scrubbing is ideal. If soap is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains 60- 95% alcohol.

Don’t Stand So Close to Me

Walk, stand, cycle, or sit outdoors at least six feet apart for interpersonal interactions.

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Comments

Doug April 5, 2021, 6:08 AM

I rode the Pacific Northwest last summer, and there were some special challenges. Bathrooms were closed. Restaurants no entry. Laundry facilities closed. Couldn't enter Canada, except a few feet in Peace Arch Park.

But, there was less traffic. Motels were empty. I learned to order food by app and pick up (although eating my dinner standing out in the rain wasn't fun).

Some thoughts:

Use a one way rental car instead of flying. Rental cars were dirt cheap.

Carry enough food for at least two days, just in case.

Stop at laundries wherever you can, not just daily destinations.

Plan ahead.

But most of all, get vaccinated and keep your card with you.

Todd Davis March 18, 2021, 7:28 AM

@Jon and Shane. First off I didn't find the article apprehensive in the least. Simply pointed out some of the the challenges and precautions of traveling during a pandemic. Shane I'm happy the five people you know who got Covid had no serious sequela from the disease but I'm a health care worker and your n of 5 does not convey the real risk nor bring any comfort to the families of the over 500,000 who have died nor the millions suffering long term consequences of Covid. I've been vaccinated and am grateful for that. It gives me a degree of feeling safe but there are still far more people that have neither had Covid or the vaccine so I continue to mask and follow the guidelines as appropriate to protect those folks (it's not just about me). I've been recreating in the outdoors throughout the pandemic and I'll be doing limited traveling and bike touring this year but will continue to follow guidelines to do

it safely. I'm hopeful and optimistic that if we continue to do that and enough of us get vaccinated we'll get back to more normal times. Jessica thanks for the timely and appropriate article.

Gerold Noyes March 18, 2021, 5:34 AM

About the only thing I adjusted in my bike touring last summer was to stay in-state. I live in Vermont and went on an 8-day trip and visited 5 state parks in the Green Mountains I had never stayed at before. The main problem was that EVERYONE was out camping! Every morning I called ahead to the next state park for a reservation and found full or nearly full state parks. Friday night was hopeless, B&B with a bed and hot shower was the solution. For Saturday night I found a private campsite at a cross country ski area through HipCamp and invited my wife to join me for a campout and hiking next day. I followed all the rest of the (now) usual COVID habits - mask, distance, handwashing, etc. I did a couple other overnight camping trips, both solo and with trusted friends. The main thing was to avoid trying to camp on weekends and holidays. This summer I plan to do the same for a trip into the New Hampshire White Mountains. And I expect to be vaccinated by the time of my end of summer ACA trip to the Black Hills.

Shane March 17, 2021, 11:45 PM

I have to agree with jon on this,,,,we can definately be cautious and take precautions, but we do have to live life fully..I was hit by a car while on my bicycle, lots of cyclist are hurt and killed by cars, but I will still ride my bike. As part of precautions its with every bright florecent color I can wear, but I do get back on the road to ride.. my brother was seriously injured by a road cyclist that hit him as he was crossing the road, but I wouldnt expect people to stop road cycling because they may injure someone else.. if we dont accept that life is full of risk we will never live...of course our other option is to realize how many thousand die or get seriously hurt by cycling accidents and realize its safer to not be around bicycles at all,,,which is how we should see covid...

Not to say that covid cant be lethal, but the 5 people I personally know (2 are relatives)who have caught it have beat it so far...not so lucky was an ex dating partner who died of lukemia last year or an old friend who adamantly tried to protect himself from covid by staying alone as much as possible and was later found alone dead of a stroke...As I get older I see each day is a risk, so dont let fear rule everything...I am in one of the biggest cities in California and there is no way I can even step outside without coming across hundreds of people in public, so why risk dying of a stroke alone to avoid that..

Jon Blumhagen March 11, 2021, 11:57 PM

So, Jessica, I read your comments....thoughtful, practical, BUT....it seemed so, so...apprehensive?

What about those folks who had covid real bad and BEAT it, and are now 100% immune, brimming with anti-bodies, or had the vaccine and are 98% in the clear? This is not a small number. (I am in the 1st group.)

I am leaving Orlando on April 1, and will be stopping at the office (thanks for the number), on my way to Alaska (so it may be July before I get to you, lol). I will have my own tent, will stealth camp if I need to, or use WarmShowers if available, (we actually hosted in 2020). I will be bringing as much dried food as I can carry, with a gallon thermos for ice, a life straw to drink out of a creek if I need to, and a bear spray pistol for bears or any other unsavory critters.

It CAN be done, without fear.

It may be better in 6 months, or a year, or it may NOT. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I have had TEN surgeries in the past 16 months, but that does not need to stop a person from making the best of TODAY. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and I prefer to take advantage of ACA maps on over half my route, and to tell folks to BE ENCOURAGED! Today is wonderful day, and while there may be grief and headaches, it is also FULL of opportunities to explore.

My wife and I raised 2 Deaf children, and a non-profit to cultivate servant leaders in the DEAF community resulted. Independence, and gratitude, is an attitude that can be TAUGHT.

And biking, or TRIKING, is a fantastic method to make that happen.

I WILL be blogging almost every day at WiFiPedalers.com.

See you on the road!

jon

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