Written By: Jesse Erickson, Co-Founder Handsome Cycles
This Spring and Summer is different in so many ways. Our outlets for fun and freedom are very limited. Riding a bike by yourself or with your family is one of the only ways to truly enjoy the outdoors and feel free. Riding will boost your mental health and immune system, but you want to do it safely. We can help you figure out how.
First things first, while riding during the pandemic, observe all of the standard guidelines you would in any other public place. Wear a mask, sanitize your hands after touching anything foreign, keep at least a 6 foot distance from others, and try not to touch your face! While you are on your bike, keeping distance will be easier than when you are at a store or even walking because you have the buffer of your bike, and you’ll need to pass people with at least a few feet extra room as well. Do not feel totally safe though. The virus can linger in the air, so do not follow anyone closely that you do not live with. No drafting during the pandemic, sorry roadies.
I’ve been thinking, some of the best times I’ve had riding a bike was when there weren’t other people around anyway. Many of those times were when I sought out the paths less traveled. Either I rode way too long and just got away from it all, or I drove somewhere remote and explored something new. In this time of uncertainty and safety, I encourage you to do the same. This isn’t the time to cruise Lake Bde Maka Ska to people watch. Seek out your Regional Trails and State Parks. I’m giving all I can to the MN DNR this year. If there is one quintessential thing about Minnesota, it is the great outdoors. This is the time to focus on nature and support those who maintain it for us. While exploring normally less used trails this Summer, keep in mind that others may have the same idea. Just be patient, respect others, and keep your distance. Sometimes that might mean hanging back and not passing slower riders when there isn’t enough room, or even stopping and pulling off the path when a family with kids comes by on a narrow trail. Take care of strangers as if they were your family. This is all about enjoying your time and everyone is nervous, don’t do anything that could ruin the day for others.
But what if you live in the city and you don’t want to, or can’t, get far from home. You’ll have to get creative. Instead of bike paths, you may want to stick to streets. With less cars these days, it is a little safer, but you’ll want to keep the same safe biking practices now as you would have before the pandemic. Watch for distracted drivers, look for opening car doors, and give yourself a safe zone. If you have little kids and want to be safer, maybe find a deserted parking lot for them to ride in. Just make sure that you either have permission to ride there, or that it is for public use. One place I’ve ridden before that is usually very free from people, is cemeteries. It’s a little morbid, but there are usually great trees, water, and other nature to look at. Maybe bring some flowers or a note to leave while you are there.
The other place that is awesome to ride in right now is the Minnesota State Fair Grounds. Use the same caution as when you are riding on city streets, but you won’t encounter many cars there. The gates are open most days but I’d suggest checking ahead if you are using it as a destination. It is so fun for me to ride around there and imagine my most favorite time of the year. Fingers crossed we get to experience it again this year.
There is plenty of space for everyone in Minnesota to ride bikes and keep our distance. Get creative, be safe, and by all means, have fun being outdoors when we have little else to occupy our time.