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