Are group rides safe?

Are you riding in groups yet? How big… 2-3? 5+? 10+?

If you’re not, what do you think will be required for you to be comfortable to return to group riding?

Being ok with riding on the front 100% of the time.


Not read the paper, but might not be…

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Nothing’s actually changed since the start of the pandemic.

Current statistics show 1.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 here in the USA, the highest in the world. That’s 0.6% of the population. There are likely to have been many unconfirmed cases, but still talking a very low % of the population with antibodies.

Social distancing helps if you know whom you’re riding with. If everyone in your group teleworks from home, then you could maybe say your group is low risk.

But if your group includes strangers, or if strangers hop onto the train, you really have no clue. That person could be a frontline health worker, a person who lives with 10 other people in a cramped apartment, or just a really dirty person who likes to rub his nose on door handles and lick handrails in public places.


As things stand in the UK, you can socialise and exercise with someone outside your own household, as long as you stay 2m apart at all times.

This is possible perhaps in a 2-up ride. But no group ride will be able to maintain 2m between each rider unless they form an excessively long peloton.

So before you even get into the risks of riding in someone’s slipstream (I think the jury’s out on that one personally, people are taking the study as more authoritative than it actually is), the simple fact remains that until social distancing is relaxed, multi-household group rides are not possible.

(Not that it’s stopping people doing it, mind.)


I am pretty sure that study has been all but completely debunked as the ‘scientists’ conducting the study didn’t have a clue what they were doing or talking about… it didn’t factor yaw angles, the amount of particles of the illness needed to actually contract it, wind etc. etc.

My understanding is that there have been, statistically, no confirmed cases where the infection has occurred outside. Anecdotally, perhaps, but from a statistical point of view (i.e. a confirmed number that is high enough to be above the level to be classed as statistically significant) the number is as good as zero.

On that basis, my view is that I’ll go out in group rides and be sensible. I’m not going to share water bottles or food. I’m going to keep a relatively clear distance from those I’m riding with, but nothing silly. No snot rockets.

Other than that, I think we’re pretty safe to ride in groups.


I’m really interested to hear if a single person has been infected riding a bike outdoors with a group. I haven’t seen an article that suggests that it happened, just ones that say the slipstream goes back 60 feet. I’ve been a stolid as any at staying home. I’ve only been on one solo mountain bike ride since quarantine and have ridden over 100 times inside since, but I’m thinking the risk of outdoor airborne spread is really confusing and frankly doubting it’s possibility. If anyone has any evidence of the contrary, please provide some evidence as I am considering going on my first group ride this weekend.


I should make clear here that I mean “under current UK guidelines”.

As to whether it’s safe… I suspect it’s fairly low risk. But that’s mostly a hunch, and to claim it was anything more informed would be wishful thinking.

The amount of snot and similar during a normal group ride…think I’ll keep riding solo for a bit longer.

Also, the 2m thing in the UK makes it pretty difficult to actually ride in a group.

Small groups. Maybe stick with people you know well .
Make it clear you won`t tolerate snot rockets!
Have a little distance if you are concerned.
Ps. I don’t read the paper/listen/watch tele, look at FB etc.
Brexit was bad enough. Bored sick with news .same old rubbish


The difficulty is that it’d never be able to be confirmed if the virus was caught from the riding, or somewhere else, or by reason of something else that happened. As an example, if i go for a bike ride and then get the illness thereafter does it follow that it was from the bike ride? Even if someone on the bike ride had the infection it still doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where I got it. And even if it was, it doesn’t necessarily mean I caught it whilst riding - did something else happen on the ride that resulted in me getting it (stopping at a set of lights and being too close, helping change a tube etc.).

I am no virologist or epidemiologist, but common sense tells me the following:

  1. There are plenty of studies, and there is plenty of data, that is showing that prolonged exposure is the great risk. A bit like radiation. Yes, there are cases where people have had very little exposure and got ill, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

  2. The knowledge seems to be converging on the point that breathing is not a problem, necessarily, it’s the vapor droplets that come from coughing and sneezing that are of greater concern, as these come from deeper within the lungs (where it is believed the virus lives) and move at a much greater velocity (i.e. spread further).

  3. Riding hard and breathing harder does not necessary mean more particles of the virus would be spread.

  4. Literally 99% of people are virus free.

  5. Wind is very rarely directly into your face. The chances are that the wind will blow the vast majority of the virus in a different direction to the one someone else is riding in. Before long, it will be well above 6feet in the air and very dispersed.

  6. There are no known cases of the virus having been spread outside of confined spaces.

On this basis, the positives of riding outside (mental and physical), to me, outweigh what appears to be a miniscule risk.

As I say, this is just my train of thought based on what I’ve read and seen. It may be wrong, and I’m more than happy to have someone point me to evidence that shows it is.

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Technically groups of up to 4 (and within 5km) can ride together in Ireland now, once 2m physical distance can be maintained. It’s this I have an issue with, on road at least, as I don’t really see how you either compromise road safety or the 2m.

What the risks are, I can only trust the medically qualified experts. However, I can confirm to have been hit by particles that I could feel from bushman blows/ spitting/ drinks/ inadvertent spitting while talking in lots of group rides!

That’s a pretty big assumption given a majority of those infected are asymptomatic and testing rates are woefully under what they should be (at least here in the US), but I agree with your overall point.

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I don’t see how it’s possible to ride in groups in any worthwhile fashion while maintaining 2m distance so I’m not planning on doing any group riding until there’s guidance from my regional health authority suggesting that it’s okay to do so. If that’s not until next year, so be it.

This isn’t out of individualistic concern for my own safety, as I live in an area with relatively few cases and the risk is likely extremely low. Rather, it’s out of a sense of collective responsibility to slow the spread of the virus as much as is feasable.

There are other safe ways to socialize under the current guidelines and recommendations, and riding solo is still considered completely acceptable and is giving me a reason to adhere more strictly to structured training this year so I don’t see any problem with carrying on like this for some time.


It’s actually a bit different. While droplets from caughing and sneezing, and the associated surface and hand contamination are a big concern with diseases like flu, this new virus also seems to spread via smaller droplets (aerosols). The problem with these tiny droplets is that they can hang around in still air for a few hours. They seem to get produced in larger amounts by loud speaking or singing (there were quite a few superspreader events in choirs, church services, parties etc). Obviously, if you’re riding outdoors, this is much less of a concern, but I wanted to mention it anyway.

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Our Saturday group ride is pretty much back to normal (~15 riders). It started back up about a month ago, but with smaller numbers and has grown back to normalcy.

Local crit racing is starting on June 18 with practice sessions limited to 150 people starting this week. State road race just announced that it’s happening, but that isn’t until Sept.

On my personal risk scale, I’m totally OK with the group rides. I can accept that someone might be asymptomatic while carrying the virus with a risk of infecting others, but I see that as a very low risk based on what I’ve read. Crit racing with 100 person fields shoulder to shoulder is higher risk for sure, I’m a little surprised that’s the first type of racing that’s starting up locally. I’ll skip the crits because of the crash risk, but I’ll be totally down for gravel racing once we get some events going.

Local club rides haven’t started back up yet, at least not formally. I’m more concerned about bike handling skills being rusty after a break from group rides.

I am in Ottawa Canada. Very low incidence of the disease. I do ride with 2-3 others one ride a week. We all tend to work from home so contact with others is low. Yes there is still some risk that one of us could have it without knowing. Our area says groups of 5 or less are fine. At this point for our area I see low risk. If I were in say Toronto where more than half of the new cases happen each day in my province I would have a different view.

In Texas in just a few weeks we are going back to racing crits with 75+ fields.

I guess you take what risk you are comfortable taking but for some parts of the world I guess we are just going to go back to normal. YMMV

There’s a lot that can be said about this. Lack of leadership has been a major problem and at this point exercising slightly greater caution than the “leaders” tell you is safe would probably be advised.