Support for MTB Leaders During Covid-19

Supporting Info for Mountain Bike Leaders Operating during Covid-19 Restricted Times  (PDF available to download)

What is the purpose of this?

This document builds on existing guidance from Scottish Cycling regarding the easing of Lockdown in Scotland. It is therefore essential that you have read and follow these Scottish Cycling guidelines before utilising the advice within this document.
The document should also compliment your own Tutor/Leader Standard Operating Procedures. 

We have created this document as supporting information and suggested practices from ourselves at DMBinS, mountain bike leaders and tutors and those active within the outdoor adventure sports industry in Scotland. It has been created by taking feedback, direction and good practice from sources such as Scottish Mountain Rescue, Glenmore Lodge, mountain bike guides, leaders and tutors in Scotland and some very experienced operators south of the Border who also work within the outdoor adventure sport industry. Our thanks go to all of you who have helped in the creation of this document. We hope it provides additional support and help should you feel the need for a few pointers as we ride off into our new Covid-19 aware world.

It is really important to note that this document has been drafted at a specific point in time and a bit like a car MOT, is only truly representative of that moment in time. As and when government, NHS and sportscotland advice changes, do continue to be flexible and do expect to rewrite some of your processes a few times as we move through the phases.

Super important: All activity must be consistent with the relevant Government and NHS guidance regarding health, physical distancing and hygiene. Active measures should be taken to remind any participant that if they are symptomatic or suspect they have been exposed to the virus they remain at home.

Our current understanding of Covid-19 transmission alongside Government, NHS and other Outdoor Industry Guidelines, Mountain Rescue England and Wales/Scottish Mountain Rescue Guidance and Resuscitation Council UK Guidance. Has shaped this document. It is your responsibility to ensure you are up to date at the time of any leadership and tutoring activity.

Further detailed information can be found here:
sportscotland website

Headline information (as we know it in June 2020):

Covid-19 is a new illness, we don't know exactly how the virus spreads from person to person, but our understanding is as follows:

• Covid-19 It is spread between humans mainly from droplets that originate from the lungs. 

• These droplets enter the body through the nose, mouth, and mucus membranes of the eyes. It can also be contained in secretions such as saliva.

• If the virus lands on an external surface it can cause infection when a person moves this to their face. 

And so we have the following methods to manage the virus:

Hygiene in summary, hand washing, alcohol gel, surface decontamination.

Behavioral for example social/physical distancing, minimising group size.

PPE creating barrier to prevent entry or contain spread.

Your priority remains to protect your health and the health of your family, your riders and the wider community including the emergency services and mountain rescue to suppress the spread and limit the risk of COVID-19 virus.

If you are not comfortable delivering the activity under the current conditions, for example if you feel physical distancing on a ride is not possible or you would not like to administer first aid, please do not look to resume activity at this phase.

Note: Those shielding should not visit venues or undertake activities. No one who is self-isolating should undertake outdoor sports activity (as per NHS guidance, anyone symptomatic should self-isolate for 7 days, household members should self-isolate for 14 days).

1: Prior to the restart of any leadership/provider business activity consider

1. Checking with your insurer! Are you insured by them to lead/tutor at this time. The link below will take you to Scottish Cycling guidelines, written with British Cycling

2. Do not deliver a led ride if you have Covid-19 symptoms, or have someone in your household who does.

3. Do not deliver a led ride if you are in the extremely vulnerable category of the population, have underlying health conditions or are living with someone at risk until such times as Government and NHS state it is ok to do so. 

4. Update your route risk assessment in the light of current and evolving government advice, including identifying measures to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 and record these in your risk assessment/standard operating procedures.

5. Create a clear communication outlining to riders what you as a Leader are doing to manage risk.

6. Be clear (and don’t worry about being repetitive) in your communication across website booking pages, email and verbal communications outlining to riders their responsibility not to attend a course if they have potentially been exposed to the virus and/or should be self-isolating based on government guidelines.

7. Review and amend as appropriate your standard SOP’s and EAP’s/Risk Assessments with Covid transmission at the forefront of your mind. Where are the pinch points, how do you mitigate?

8. Create a crib sheet supplementing your pre-ride brief and reminding you to cover off all additional protocol needed to ensure the safety of your riders and yourself/other countryside users. This crib sheet could also be sent to all riders in advance. Section 4 has some suggested content.

9. Consider content and location of your incapacitated leader card to reflect the current situation; think about individual shelters/bivvies instead of a group shelter, how do you ensure easy access to this card so your riders don’t need to rummage about in your rucsac and how you want your riders to communicate with the emergency services in the event you can’t. Any First aid advice (including CPR) should reflect the current situation. Refer to the Resuscitation Council UK for up to date guidance. community/

10. When Government allow more than one session (to different riders) to be delivered in a day, ensure a suitable buffer time period to enable one session to end, appropriate cleaning etc to take place before the next session commences

11. Bookings and payments should where possible, be operated online or by phone.

1a: Route selection  -  Consider your ‘normal’ route choices as if for the very first time:

1. Think about physical distancing, car parking/ facilities/space, remoteness and popularity.

2. Check your route choices, do your usual routes go through land now restricted due to safety reasons i.e. FLS trails may not have been safety checked. 

3. Reconsider the route from a group management perspective; long sections of singletrack and a more dispersed group could increase the risk of navigational errors by members of group? Consider how you could mitigate this.

4. Reconsider stop and start points ‘on the trail’ particularly with reference to technical sections. Ensure natural stopping and start points have sufficient space for the group to stop safely and maintain social distancing while keeping other trail users safe. 

5. Reconsider the environment you are riding through; new wildlife habitats will have formed where areas have been left alone during the restrictions, do respect this.

6. Responsible access means so much more at this time. Other countryside users and landowners are also nervous and more sensitive. Be kind and do the ride thing.
Check out: instructors-and-coaches-operating-in-scotland

2. Communication with riders prior to sessions

2a Rider personal equipment - Consider how restrictions on the sharing of shared/personal equipment impacts on your protocols. For example:

1. Do you want to specify a kit list for your riders (the list below does not replace your normal kit list nor is it mandatory unless also stated by British or Scottish Cycling in their Guidelines (LINK). 

a. Physical distancing: Group shelters will not be appropriate to a physical distancing protocol (they get very warm, damp and cramped). Riders could carry personal blizzard bag/individual/emergency shelter as appropriate to the group and environmental/route conditions.

b. Hygiene: Riders carry their own alcohol hand gel for personal use when soap and water is not available

c. PPE: riders carry their own personal face covering for use during incidents as directed by you as the leader.

d. Riders carry small basic personal small first aid kits (to include non-latex, medical gloves, contents to be in date) to treat minor ailments themselves.

e. Riders to use their own bikes, helmets, and gloves. Hire helmets and gloves are not recommended at this time, if you are supplying hire bikes refer to Scottish Cycling Guidelines (LINK)

f. Riders to carry basic trail repair equipment for small fixes themselves if competent. That will be your call. 

g. Personal hydration and nutrition to be carried by all riders and not shared.

*There may be some situations where a shelter/first aid kit/trailside repair tools may not be needed per rider and per group may be more appropriate for example a family (those living together) could have one between them. You will still need your own personal kit as at the time of writing it would not be appropriate for you to join them in their shelter. As always, keep up to date with government guidelines.

2b General communication prior to sessions

1. Ensure any meeting place has enough space to accommodate vehicles and clearly communicate the location and expectations:
a. Riders will unload bikes from personal vehicles themselves, maintaining social distancing and parking with plenty of space. 

2. Leaders should recommend participants to maintain own personal hygiene and bring own sanitiser and PPE to rides.

3. British Cycling requests that all leaders notify participants if they develop symptoms after the ride and all participants should notify the leader if they develop symptoms after the ride so the group can be informed.

3. Preparation on the day

1. Be more risk averse; prepare to scale down any activity dependant on the group/individual/weather conditions. Dealing with incidents is more challenging; from group management, safety and comfort to calling on external resource e.g. MR.

4. Pre-ride with group/riders

1. Assess whether all riders have each brought the appropriate clothing/equipment/nutrition and hydration.

2. Highlight additional measures to reduce transmission as part of your brief (this is where a crib sheet is helpful). For example:
a. Wash hands/use hand gel throughout the day and before eating/drinking
b. Avoid/minimise touching your face
c. Safety glasses (remember the eyes are considered mucus membranes and so are considered a potential point of entry of the virus)
d. Ensure caution is taken when operating gates & stiles.
e. Maintain physical distancing throughout the day
f. Do not share any equipment, spares and tools.
g. Do not share any food and water
h. Respect other trail users: maintain physical distancing when passing or stop and remove yourself and the group from/to side of trail.
i. Reiterate procedure for an Incapacitated Leader (all riders to carry an ‘incapacitated leader’ card rather than have it in the leader backpack).

3. Create a protocol for M-check with particular reference to physical distancing and not sharing equipment as guidelines dictate. Disposable medical gloves, face mask/covering, safety glasses, alcohol wipes and robust hand hygiene are your friends here. Do not cross contaminate from bike to bike and remember to NEVER place potentially contaminated gloves/hands to your face.

5. During the ride

1. Physical distancing to be maintained

2. Only move/touch/organise your own equipment and bike. 

3. Do not share your equipment and clothing 

4. Clean hands periodically throughout the day; use of gel when away from soap and water

5. Avoid touching your face

6. Ensure caution is taken when operating gates & stiles. 

7. Leaders will still be required to administer first aid and should do so on a 1-to-1 basis (i.e. avoid groups gathering around), utilising PPE and other protections to minimise contact between tutor and learner (see section on First Aid, below).

8. If a leader becomes unwell during a ride, the ride must be cancelled immediately.

9. Leaders must practice good respiratory hygiene (i.e. coughing, sneezing into armpit or tissue).

Above all, be aware of and ensure respect for each rider, other trail users and your personal space. Address any breach of this gently and kindly, do not assume riders will have the confidence to address this among their peers.

10. First aid and mechanicals

During all first aid/mechanical interventions the Leader/Tutor must ensure the safety and comfort of themselves and their riders with physical distancing/hygiene and PPE at the fore and in line with government guidelines.
To lead a ride, an in date first aid certificate is required with the exception of some certificates that have expired on or after 16th March 2020 where a temporary extension is permitted (in Scotland the extension period is still to be defined by the HSE). At this point a requalification is required. For more specific info please see guidance from Socttish Cycling (LINK) and from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) site here.

Any leader who doesn’t hold a first aid certificate or theirs expired before the 16th March 2020 are unable to lead their own rides but can assist on other rides until the required qualification is gained.

We recommend the use of online refresher training to keep your skills up to date.

The use of face coverings versus surgical masks is constantly being updated. Face coverings are non-medical coverings. See below for further guidance and refer to Government recommendations at the time of riding.

1. In the case of a mechanical that can’t be fixed by the rider or the rider under supervision, you must make the decision to repair the mechanical if it is within your skills and leadership qualification while ensuring your own protection (consider how you will do this maintaining social distancing and the safety of the group; medical gloves (not bike gloves)/disinfectant spray or wipes/face mask/covering or walk the group off. Broken parts bagged/sealed). The rider could positioned the bike ready for repair and step away to maintain physical distancing.

2. In the case of a first aid incident, ensure your own protection using appropriate PPE (for example medical gloves, medical grade face masks and safety glasses) before administering First Aid. Do not remove your face mask with potentially contaminated hands and remove using the ties around the ears, not by grabbing the face shield itself. Refer to WHO guidance on the safe application and removal of face masks.

3. Ensure you are up to date with CPR protocol (Resuscitation Council UK/MR advice) as described below.

4. Waterproof clothing is considered adequate in place of plastic aprons but must be bagged and cleaned/quarantined after use.

If you administer first aid all PPE must be treated as contaminated and handled/disposed of as such. Never touch your face with potentially contaminated gloves.

7. Post ride

1. Remove outer clothing before entering home.

2. Wash down bike with usual cleaning products.

3. Wash down any tools/other equipment after use with appropriate cleaning products

4. Avoid carrying any unnecessary items into the home

5. Shower when you get home.

And a final idea:

As we move forward through this phase advice, guidelines and maybe even law will change to reflect the threat Covid-19 poses at any one time. Government, NHS, Resuscitation Council UK and NGB websites alongside Mountain Rescue/Emergency Service protocols will all govern how you react to any one situation at any one time appropriately. 

In summary, we have the following methods to manage the virus:

• Hygiene for example hand washing, alcohol gel, surface decontamination.

• Behavioural for example social/physical distancing, minimising group size.

• PPE creating barrier to prevent entry or contain spread.

These methods work in collaboration with your SOP’s and EAP’s and reflect these core principles of infection and protection. When one method is compromised because it cannot be achieved or fails, we must rely on the others. The more methods we compromise the less “safe” we become. 

Consider your barriers pictorally if it helps (proportions are representative only)

Behaviour ie physical distancing

When riding: 

Behaviour/physical distancing can be maintained and as such is your main form of protection. Low risk of surface spread.

When administering first aid:

Unable to physically distance from casualty.

We cannot completely remove the risk of Covid-19 at this time. 

Consider honestly and critically the risk and benefit of your activity; do the necessary Covid-19 restrictions that keep you, your riders and the wider community safe make your proposed offering unviable during the current Phase.