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Touring in the US in the age of COVID-19

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Touring in the US in the age of COVID-19

Old 07-02-20, 01:10 PM
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northerntier
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Touring in the US in the age of COVID-19

I'd love to know if anyone has plans. Where to? Are enough public restrooms open, and how to minimize infection risks at those restrooms?

I've toured every year since 2004 and find it hard to believe that I can't go anywhere this year. I was supposed to just be returning from Alaska now :-(. However, I'm not as young as I once was and tick a couple of the pre-existing boxes.

Cheers,
pete
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Old 07-02-20, 06:32 PM
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I'm leaving in September, Yorktown to LA via the Grand Canyon. I'm fairly certain I'll be able to make do with what's out there.
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Old 07-02-20, 06:45 PM
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We are touring every weekend. Many campgrounds are open in Maine and we also know many free campsites around the state
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Old 07-02-20, 08:15 PM
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Touring now. This is 1st of 9 days. left from home Vs flying somewhere. We feel safer in hotels. Having said that, hotel was not cleaned well. But less human contact than camp bathroom. We are wiping down surfaces and had dinner in our room, delivered. I walked to service station for a beer. Lunch was an outdoor picnic table at a restaurant.

After first day, it seems to be working out.
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Old 07-02-20, 08:59 PM
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I had planned to ride the GAP this spring but then COVID closures happened & the re-opening schemes turned out to be much slower & piece-meal than expected. Not happy but at least I'm catching up on bike maintenance/upgrades. Personally, I wouldn't worry about campground bathrooms. Hotels can have bedbugs.
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Old 07-02-20, 09:03 PM
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Social distancing
wearing a mask when in proximity to people, as a consideration for other people in case you are asymptomatic, and who may then come into contact with older or fragile people with existing health issues
restricting, or avoiding touching commonly touched surfaces
NOT touching your face, cell phone, car steering wheel etc AFTER touching commonly touched surfaces
washing ones hands after touching commonly touched surfaces
NOT going into crowded, indoor restaurants etc with close contact with other people
visiting stores that like all stores in this country have been doing for nearly 4 months, restrict the number of clients to properly maintain social distancing

these are all the things ill be doing on tour for the foreseeable future, all things that I have been practicing since the beginning of this situation, and some for years before due to regularly being in long term care facilities.
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Old 07-02-20, 09:09 PM
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Re motels. I plan to carry a small empty spray bottle, and have a small container of bleach, to be able to mix up quickly a spray bottle of properly diluted solution to clean common surfaces.
with washrooms if we camp, won't use crowded ones, minimize touching of surfaces and do proper hand washing immediately upon leaving.
won't put toothbrush down etc
generally will shy away from groups
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Old 07-02-20, 09:26 PM
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I did my first ever mini credit card tour overnight in early March just as concerns were becoming serious, basically treated every surface in the room as contaminated and washed what I was going to touch or after I did so. Bought microwavable food, washed the packages, cooked it, pretty much what's become the norm now for home. If I were doing it again I'd bring my own pillowcase for aesthetic reasons, I think then I just double bagged the hotel pillow by taking one off another.

That was back when we were still getting misinformation about masks...

Today I'm planning only day trips and a fresh mask per refill stop.

I've been in precisely one public restroom since this started, fortunayely quite clean and odor free in a Walmart. The porta potties so that were on my local trail last year are gone. There's strong evidence of spread of SARS-COV1 from plumbing vapors so have to assume it for COV2 as well. As a dude, unless it comes to #2 I'm opting for the woods, though I get that's unfair and not sure what I'd do in the worst case, apart from carrying wet wipes...

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Old 07-02-20, 09:38 PM
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Hello ???

Are you aware that a growing number of states are reinstituting a 14 day quarantine?
For some states there is a list of restricted states, other states have a blanket quarantine.

I suspect cops will stop any touring cyclist and ask some pretty tough questions.
And I also suspect that small townfolk along the way will not be thrilled to see you.
Fines up to $10,000.

The various quarantines are changing daily - mostly in the lockdown direction.
With the dramatically increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases -
Things are likely to get worse for a long time before they get better.

https://www.npr.org/2020/07/02/88659...-for-two-weeks
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Old 07-03-20, 07:07 AM
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If anybody is curious about the safest places, this data base has county level data on average new case counts per capita:
https://globalepidemics.org/key-metr...d-suppression/

I am not even thinking about a bike tour this year. For those of you that do it, I hope you stay safe and have a great time. I hear that some campgrounds are busier, but some are less busy, so it is impossible to say how that will work out for you.

Last summer I did a two week backpacking trip, I plan a repeat of that next month. When bike touring, I re-supply on food and fuel along the way. But backpacking, I am not planning on re-supplying at any stores along the way, will re-supply on food and stove fuel once or twice from where I park my truck. Thus will be 100 percent self-reliant based on what I bring from home. And backpacking out in the wilderness is the definition of social distancing.
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Old 07-03-20, 09:20 AM
  #11  
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I have a tour in tentative plans for end of September to ride from Austin to Oklahoma City.
I am evaluating and watching things based on three aspects:
  1. Risks to me. I see a severe reaction as a risk with low probability but high consequences. The probability is higher than staying at home because I can't control exposure as easily. The consequences also a bit higher. Hopefully if I were to get infected, I would find a one-way car rental in nearby city and stop the trip.
  2. Risks to others. Responsibility in spreading things to others - particularly say if I were asymptomatic and spreading without knowing. This is one of those places where I'll watch the local health advisories and trends including shutdown orders. If there is heightened spreading or larger shutdown orders, then I'll also have additional responsibility to not go.
  3. Logistics of travel. TX State Park campgrounds have very limited openings and I don't expect this to change much. Seems like most of the Mom & Pop motels in smaller places still open. It is more difficult to stop in somewhere during the day e.g. restaurant to use the restroom or refill on water, so will need to adjust accordingly. I have a train booked for return travel, but looks like train service is phasing back from daily to 3x per week at start of October - so may not keep my (refundable) train ticket. The planned distance (~450 miles) is shorter than some other places I've crossed with limited services (e.g. Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks is 500 miles) so this is at least as much a case of planning appropriately than something by itself that would stop the trip.
Independent of all that, following social distancing guidelines and minimizing frequency I use services along the way would come into play in any case.
For now, I'll see how things unfold over the next 2.5 months and finalize plans (or cancellation) based on that.

Last edited by mev; 07-03-20 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 07-03-20, 09:50 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by mev View Post
...Hopefully if I were to get infected, I would find a one-way car rental in nearby city and stop the trip.
It sounds like a well thought out plan but this raises a question. Will a car company rent someone a car if they have been tested positive, considering that car would then probably have to go into a period of quarantine.

The same related question is whether you could get a hotel if tested positive or would one have to self quarantine in a tent for two weeks and/or could one afford hospitalization out of state for that period of time (I'm not familiar with US health coverage that way).
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Old 07-03-20, 11:12 AM
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Just got back from three days, two nights to S. Jersey. 63 miles down on Wednesday. Food/restroom stop around mile 35 at a convenience store. Also stopped at a farm stand for some fresh Jersey produce and to say hi to their house cat, Ducky. Several pee breaks by the side of the road. Campground open only at 50% capacity. Never had to share the restroom with anyone. I suspect this weekend will be more crowded. Rode up the coast this morning and caught a train back to Philly. Mask required, and plenty of room to distance.

Morning at Lake Nummy in the Pine Barrens.


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Old 07-03-20, 12:50 PM
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I'm hoping things get better by this fall as I have a tour planned downed south in October and I'm going to ride come hell or high water. (everything else has been cancelled or postponed this year)
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Old 07-03-20, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
... (I'm not familiar with US health coverage that way).
Everybody has different health insurance with different coverage, except some lack coverage. There is no uniform answer.

Up until two years ago, my coverage was limited to the state I was in, except I think I had emergency coverage elsewhere but what met the definition of "emergency" could be transient and minimal. Now I have coverage in all states.
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Old 07-03-20, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Everybody has different health insurance with different coverage, except some lack coverage.
Some? That’s a big sum.
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Old 07-03-20, 10:12 PM
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Scanned for info on chance of catching COVID from surfaces: supposedly “may be possible” but not the “main” way of transmission. I don’t see any info about confirmed cases caught from surfaces. Easy enough to wipe counters & toilets though.

OTOH isn’t road cycle touring about the most dangerous way to travel even in normal times? With reduced auto traffic, bike touring now might be safer than ever.
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Old 07-04-20, 03:18 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Everybody has different health insurance with different coverage, except some lack coverage. There is no uniform answer.

Up until two years ago, my coverage was limited to the state I was in, except I think I had emergency coverage elsewhere but what met the definition of "emergency" could be transient and minimal. Now I have coverage in all states.
Thanks for that clarifying. Limitations, specifics, and hopefully not the spectre of small print details, are all details that clearly is one of the main difference between our two countries.

It's a lot to have to consider as a regular Joe Schmoe person, and to organize, plan for, make judgement calls on with most likely hard to understand details, not to mention the clear connection between a job and health insurance--this last point a real issue with a huge economic downturn.

Not to mention the "that's a large sum" aspect in general brought up, (to be clear here I refer to the millions of Americans with limited health insurance) and of the insuing and inherent realities of health insurance connected with social class and education, and the snowball effect of all of these things on all kinds of angles to a society in general.

Oof, off the topic of bicycle touring, but for you Americans, an ever present one in your lives,directly linked to your health coverage/bicycling/risk of injury and hospital stay/now possible bicycling and covid implications......

Last edited by djb; 07-04-20 at 03:21 AM.
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Old 07-04-20, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Thanks for that clarifying. Limitations, specifics, and hopefully not the spectre of small print details, are all details that clearly is one of the main difference between our two countries.
But you live in a civilized country.
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Old 07-04-20, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Scanned for info on chance of catching COVID from surfaces: supposedly “may be possible” but not the “main” way of transmission. I don’t see any info about confirmed cases caught from surfaces. Easy enough to wipe counters & toilets though.
What makes me leery about this is the fact that, up until anybody was even thinking about re-opening restaurants and retail stores, epidemiologists and other scientists were pleading with us to scrub down every single grocery item or food take-out container with soap and water, to keep a "clean" surface and a "dirty" surface to avoid cross-contamination, and to wash our hands for twenty seconds any time we came in contact with virtually any surface or material that someone else may have touched. The minute they started announcing that the economy was going to start re-opening, the danger from surfaces magically went away.

I have trouble believing that restaurant tables and take-out food packaging have such powerful antiviral properties that, if an infected person coughed on one right now and I run my fingers over it five minutes from now, I won't have a fresh handful of active COVID-19 within arms reach of my face.

I certainly feel the same regret that others do about not being able to have a normal riding season this year, but I've decided that if taking a multi-day ride is going to be any way marred by COVID-related stress, I may as well stay home and just take many more local rides than usual.
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Old 07-04-20, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Scanned for info on chance of catching COVID from surfaces: supposedly “may be possible” but not the “main” way of transmission. I don’t see any info about confirmed cases caught from surfaces. Easy enough to wipe counters & toilets though.

OTOH isn’t road cycle touring about the most dangerous way to travel even in normal times? With reduced auto traffic, bike touring now might be safer than ever.
I suspect it is possible to get it through surface transfer, but I am not very careful with door knobs, etc. But I do not go indoors anywhere other than my condo without a mask on, and I minimize how often I go indoors anywhere. But right now, my county in Wisconsin is the hottest hot spot of the state, so right now i am being extremely careful.

I think road traffic is almost as high in my area (Southern Wisconsin) as pre-Covid now. I noticed a gradual increase in traffic in Apr though May. The first organized tour I did with a group was the ACA Glacier Waterton loop in 2012. I used my taillight in flash mode every day. On the first few days, I was the only one. By the end of the trip (a week later) a couple others had started to use their taillights in flash mode during daytime. Now, eight years later I even see people using flashing taillights on their bikes on bike paths. I think that most bicyclists are starting to get serious about road visibility. One guy I know used to always ride in cool weather with a black cycling jacket, but not any more, now he only wears fairly visible jerseys and jackets. I get nervous about being on roads that are full of vacationers, I usually time my tours to leave somewhere just as they are starting to get busy, I prefer the roads when there is less traffic.
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Old 07-04-20, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
Thanks for that clarifying. Limitations, specifics, and hopefully not the spectre of small print details, are all details that clearly is one of the main difference between our two countries.
... ....
I was intentionally trying to minimize what I said, the topic of health insurance has become a highly partisan issue between political parties so I was trying to avoid giving anyone an excuse to start some flame wars here. But it clearly is a important concern in planning a trip. Two years ago I did a two week bike trip in Florida with a former co-worker. He had an emergency room visit while in Florida. Fortunately, his insurance covered it but there were back and forth arguments with the insurance company for several months after he got home about the charges and what was covered and what he had to pay.

I am retired but i can still buy health insurance through my former employer which is expensive, but at this time I have a very good plan that has coverage in all of USA. When i did my five week Canadian Maritimes trip last summer, I bought an extra travel insurance policy but it only covered emergency medical. I had a medical issue pop up during that trip but it was not an emergency, but I was at a doctor office within 24 hours of getting home.
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Old 07-04-20, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I suspect it is possible to get it through surface transfer, but I am not very careful with door knobs, etc. But I do not go indoors anywhere other than my condo without a mask on, and I minimize how often I go indoors anywhere. But right now, my county in Wisconsin is the hottest hot spot of the state, so right now i am being extremely careful.
.
just wanted to mention that I see this just like developing the habit of being situational aware on our bikes, second guessing cars assuming they dont see us etc etc.
Because I've been in long term care facilities for years, using my elbows to open doors etc--in other words, always being aware of what I touch and right afterwards using wall mounted hand sanitizers etc to clean, is just part and parcel of having the responsibility of not transmitting something to a fragile person.
It becomes second nature after a while, and luckily I learned and developed this awareness years before all this covid thing.
Ive been caring after older and more fragile family members now all during this crisis, so the responsibility on my part is serious --BUT it has become less of a stress now simply because this has gone on for so long now. I do exactly the same as I did at the beginning when I go shopping etc, am hyper aware of distance to people who some of which did not read the memo and are clueless, but as a lifelong urban cyclist in busy cities and a tourer in sketchy situations, being hyper aware at all times is not stressful to me.

all this to say is that its worth being aware of what you touch etc. Dont touch door handles and then touch your face, or your phone, or whatever.
This is all about reducing risks, CONTROLLING risks as best as we can, just as we do riding bicycles amongst traffic.

I know this is different behaviour than what nearly everyone is used to, and not easy for folks who never have had to think like this before, but along with social distancing etc, this is the way to control the transmission of this thing, and to control the risks of getting it.
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Old 07-04-20, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I was intentionally trying to minimize what I said, the topic of health insurance has become a highly partisan issue between political parties so I was trying to avoid giving anyone an excuse to start some flame wars here. But it clearly is a important concern in planning a trip. Two years ago I did a two week bike trip in Florida with a former co-worker. He had an emergency room visit while in Florida. Fortunately, his insurance covered it but there were back and forth arguments with the insurance company for several months after he got home about the charges and what was covered and what he had to pay.

I am retired but i can still buy health insurance through my former employer which is expensive, but at this time I have a very good plan that has coverage in all of USA. When i did my five week Canadian Maritimes trip last summer, I bought an extra travel insurance policy but it only covered emergency medical. I had a medical issue pop up during that trip but it was not an emergency, but I was at a doctor office within 24 hours of getting home.
didnt see this response til now.
Yes, I understand. I should not touch on this topic, other than implications for a cycling trip and responsible planning health insurance coverage wise in this regard.
Certainly though for us (meaning my wife and I ) the idea of planning any sort of trip out of country has lots of real details re health insurance coverage and covid that would have to be looked into very seriously, but at this point, going anywhere else is totally out of the question for us.
thanks though for the adding your comments afterwards
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Old 07-04-20, 09:54 AM
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My own level of concern on this would be a direct relation to where I was going to be travelling, and making the calls right up to the moment of travel based on what is likely to be open and available particularly on the level of where you are going to stay. (whew that was a good run on)

We had been trying to plan a getaway with some friends over the last few months here in GA and FL. All of the state and national parks have been back and forth to an unplannable level as to what parks are open and what they are allowing you to do there. We have run into issue with several of the "ABnB" sites as to availability and when. Funny enough this is often in direct relation to whether a cleaning service was working or not. We have had plans cancelled on us by the locale as early as two days before our arrival. Been REALLY hard to plan anything definitive.

I would call ahead to the places you plan to stay, be sure they will be there. I would not try to count on any roadside restaurant as food. Make sure you will be able to pass state lines should you have to cross any.
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