The day I blew out my eye riding my bike up Foothills Parkway and gaining 2,000 feet in altitude, one of the reasons I did it was because my usual route, along the Little River from Walland to Townsend was packed with people out enjoying a nice day. More than I’d ever seen. I only saw three other bikers on Foothills since, well, you gain 2,000 feet in like five miles with constant uphill and only an idiot would do that.
Near where I live is a nice park along Cherokee Boulevard and it’s never been so full of people jogging and walking. The road is full of bikers doing loops. And it got me to thinking. Because when I saw all those bikers on my usual route I thought about passing them, or them passing me, and we’re on this narrow road and all breathing hard and well, it just didn’t seem too smart.
Since I blew out the eye, two weeks and one day ago, healing nicely thank you, just small gas bubble left to dissipate, I haven’t had to concern myself with any of that. But then I decided to research a little. Because many people are enjoying this spring weather and all this time on their hands by working out.
I’m not betting my life on this, well, actually, yeah I am since I won’t start biking around others when I start soon; let’s put it this way: Combining research and common sense, I think a lot of people are putting themselves at risk.
First, common sense. You’re peddling away, running hard, whatever. Breathing HARD. Which mean you’re exhaling and inhaling more powerfully than usual. Standard social distancing we all accept, except the wingnuts, is six feet. Just doesn’t seem like normal cuts it when you’re breathing isn’t normal. Frankly, I watch bicyclists pass each other on the road barely two feet apart. Runners passing in either direction less than six feet. Not good.
Research? There’s a Belgian-Dutch study that examined air particles. If you’re running next to each other, the study suggests distancing isn’t as important as if you were still since you’re leaving the particles behind you; but also take into account which way the wind is blowing. However, if one of you is behind? You stand a good chance of breathing in droplets from the person in front. It’s worse if you’re in their slipstream, directly behind.
There are also a large number of variables involved such as temperature, humidity, and wind, besides how fast you are going and how fast others are going relative to you. so these are just guidelines. Also, on the negative side, while some people walking are wearing masks, I’ve yet to see anyone biking or running wearing one.
Walking in line? Stay four to five meters behind the person in front. 12 to 15 feet.
Running in line? Stay ten meters behind the person in front. 30 feet.
Biking in line? Stay twenty meters behind the person in front. 60 feet.
Now, consider if you’re passing people? Extrapolate. I wouldn’t want to go by another bike only a few feet away or have them go by me. Same with running.
If they’re coming toward you, you end up in their immediate slipstream. Starting to get the picture?
Bottom line? If you’re going to do these activities consider finding places that are abandoned or isolated, not where everyone else is. There are actually places like that if you look hard enough in most areas. Most people naturally congregate to the known spots, sort of like everyone goes through the same door they went in, ignoring emergency exits? Or they leave a theater through one door in a double door until someone wisely pushes open the other part of the door?
Biking, you might have to suck it up and use the indoor trainer. I take the dogs to a fenced ball field that you can’t see from the road, where there’s usually no one. I go inside the fence, let them off the leash and have begun walking the fence perimeter, sort of prisoner-of-war camp style, all around. If someone else is there, I wait until they’re done or use spears to keep them off the fence. So far only two other people have taken advantage of this space while I’ve been there (and there are three fenced ball fields) while hundreds run and bike and walk by just a hundred feet away.
Again, feel free to disregard this, but it doesn’t make sense to maintain social distancing and then ignore it when we’re most active and breathing the hardest. Not only are you putting your particles out there harder, you’re sucking in particles harder and deeper into your lungs.
The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also now in Kindle Unlimited.
The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)