Over the past weeks and months, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all. While many races and training sessions have been cancelled or postponed, our collective priority has been to safeguard the health of our families, friends, and the broader community.
We know that cycling is an important part of the physical and mental health of our members and while we are all eager to get back to racing and training, it is critical that this is done in a safe manner.
Recent Federal and State/Territory government announcements on the reduction of some restrictions have created significant excitement on a ‘rebooting’ of organised training and racing.
Cycling Australia (‘CA’), in consultation with our Member States and Territories, has developed a Resource Hub which includes the CA Guidelines for a return to cycling training in a COVID-19 environment. By providing this guidance, we are seeking to provide information on getting people back to what they love doing.
The CA Guidelines are designed to provide Host Organisations (clubs or coaches) with a framework for conducting training activities in a COVID-19 environment in a safe manner.
These Guidelines will be further augmented by Guidelines from each State and Territory and Racing specific requirements (as they are set or refined) over coming weeks and months.
Cycling Australia understands that our members are keen to get back to more normal activity, including training in groups (bunches or motorpacing). While many State and Territory Governments have approved exercise in groups to varying levels, we recommend that members continue to focus on their health and the health of their families, friends and the broader community and err on the side of caution by following the advice in the AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport (‘AIS Framework’).
Different States and Territories are at different stages of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and have adopted different frameworks and numbering systems for describing a return to more normal activities in a COVID-19 environment. The AIS Framework uses Levels A-C. For those States and Territories currently aligned with the Level B cycling activities, the AIS Framework specifically recommends: “Avoid cycling in slipstream of others - maintain 10m from a cyclist in front. Avoid packs of greater than two (including motorcycle derny).”
It should be noted that this recommendation is for multiple cyclists riding in a line and that the AIS
Framework allows for two cyclists to ride side by side, separated by 1.5m.
This recommendation on avoiding riding in the slipstream of others is based on specific advice from the AIS Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Hughes, who has advised:
➡ There is solid evidence that the highest risk of transmission of COVID-19 is via inhalation of vaporised respiratory secretions
➡ Vaporisation of respiratory secretions occurs in some medical procedures where there is high airflow. It would be expected to occur wherever there is high airflow in or around the nose or mouth
➡ Cyclists training at high levels produce huge volumes of exhaled and inhaled air
➡ When riding in a peloton, it is not uncommon to feel spray when a cyclist in front is drinking, spitting, sneezing or perspiring
➡ While there is no high-level evidence of COVID-19 in this environment, from first principles it would seem highly likely that a cyclist riding close behind another cyclist at high speed would be in danger of inhaling vaporised secretions of cyclists in front
➡ The AIS recommendation to remain at least 10m behind the cyclist in front is to allow space for secretions to be widely dispersed in the air before reaching the cyclist behind
It is worth noting that different States or Territory Governments may permit the resumption of some activities at different times, dependent on factors including the level of local COVID-19 transmission and other variables influencing local policy. In such circumstances, those States and Territories will confirm the ability to maintain a distance of less than 10m when cycling in a group. In all cases, Cycling Australia continues to recommend that riders download the COVIDSafe App and that if people choose to ride in groups they ride with people that they know, which may assist with contact tracing if there is an incidence of COVID-19 transmission.