The whole of mainland Scotland is now in an enhanced Level 4 of containing the spread of Covid-19 virus, effectively, another full lockdown.
There is no doubt – our country is now experiencing a very concerning increase in the number of cases of Covid-19. The virus is spreading rapidly and there is a growing risk that more lives will now be lost, or adversely affected, particularly by this new highly contagious strain of the virus.
The Scottish Government throughout this pandemic have provided guidelines, advice and restrictions to help protect us all through these unprecedented times. We also appreciate that they have clearly recognised the importance and value of outdoor exercise at this time as a vital tool for good mental and physical health. We, as a community of mountain bikers, have largely all played our part by following the appropriate guidance to help prevent the spread of the virus.
With the introduction of the new enhanced Level 4 status across the whole of mainland Scotland we are calling on the mountain bike community again – to keep riding safely, follow the latest government guidance and protect the NHS.
Ride Local: You must only leave the house for essential reasons. One of these reasons, thankfully, is you may leave the house to exercise including mountain biking. However, you must remain within your Local Authority area - or travel a maximum of 5 miles outwith your area to start your ride. Your ride must start and finish in the same place, You may be breaking the law and be subject to a fine by travelling to ride - we recommend just riding from your door.
Maximum 2 People from 2 Households: When you ride you are only permitted to ride with one other person from a different household. So, 2 people from 2 households is the maximum permitted on any ride. If you are running an ‘organised sport’ session for under 12's you may have slightly larger numbers, see the guidance from our colleagues at Scottish Cycling for more information – do not consider this a loophole and all groups should consider whether it is safe and beneficial to run sessions at this time.
#ThinkWinter - Ride Within Your Limits: The conditions are cold, there is snow and ice, the days are short and the additional Covid19 protocols are putting pressure on our fabulous Mountain Rescue teams. We ask all mountain bikers to seriously consider choosing trails you are very familiar with, ride at a mellow speed and remaining close to roads or points of access at most times. Now is not the time to be taking chances when out riding.
• Restricted travel - It's the law!: It is now law that you must only travel (drive) a maximum of 5 miles outwith your Local Authority area to start your ride. Your ride must start and finish in the same place. If you are caught with bikes on your car and travelling out of your Local Authority area you risk breaking the law and incurring a fine.
• Ride From Home: We are suggesting that all riders have a default mode of ‘ride from home’ until the current restrictions improve and the whole of Scotland moves down a tier or two.
• Parking – if you do consider it essential to travel (drive) to the start of your ride then please park with consideration for others and avoid blocking roads, driveways and access for other vehicles. If your chosen destination’s parking facility is overcrowded, please have plan B option.
• Group rides – You can only meet with one other person from a different household for essential exercise - a maximum of 2 people from 2 households. This may be extended for performance athletes however
• Organised group rides - For information on organised group activity for both children, young people and adults including mountain bike club activity, leaders, guides, coaches and instructors – please see our colleagues in Scottish Cycling’s guidance.
• #ThinkWinter – there is a temptation to consider your local rides to be safer as you will be more familiar with the terrain. Be aware though that if anything goes wrong there is a higher risk due to the colder days and lack of daylight.
o Be Prepared - check the weather forecast, pack spare clothes, tools, lights, phone with spare battery pack, emergency shelters and additional food & water,
o Ride Within Your Limits – do not take unnecessary risks and be prepared to alter your plans if weather or conditions change,
o Be Supported - let someone know where you are going and what time you will be back.
o Get Help - in an emergency call 999 or 112 and ask for Police and Mountain Rescue. Be ready with additional clothing to wait longer for Mountain Rescue to arrive however they are there to help you get safely out of trouble in the hills - do call in an emergency.
• Have a Plan B - Prepare to be flexible and have alternative rides in mind if your chosen trail is not appropriate for your equipment, your ability (or your fellow riders ability), the car park is too busy or the weather changes unexpectedly.
• Smile & Wave – It is a concerning and challenging time – please continue to be friendly, smile, wave and say hello and thanks when passing. At this time – more than ever it is important that we look out for each other.
• Litter - Take a bag to put your litter in and take it home – there is no excuse.
Do not leave your home to undertake exercise or physical activity if Scottish Government advice means you should stay at home because you or someone you live with has or has had symptoms of COVID-19.
People who are symptomatic should self-isolate for 7 days and household members for 14 days as per info on NHS guidance. No one who is self-isolating should go mountain biking. Information on Scottish Governments approach to managing covid-19 is available at www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/