Your Complete Guide to Bike Riding With a Face Mask
The world is changing, and the current pandemic is proof of that idea. After months of lockdowns and quarantines, however, some areas are beginning to loosen restrictions. One big sticking point for local governments is the continued use of face masks and coverings, but that stipulation does bring about some confusion, especially for the outdoor community. Before you go looking for the best face masks for biking, consider looking into the specific guidelines in your area. Many governments have made masks a requirement in indoor and outdoor areas depending on the proximity to other people. What does that mean for cyclists? Are you free from these new regulations? The answers depend on several factors.
Do You Need to Wear a Mask While You Ride?
Contracting COVID-19 is unlikely while riding a bike, especially if you are a solo rider. You will rarely be in any one person's presence long enough to become infected or even infect others. However, if you will be riding through a busy park or with a large group of cyclists, then you may want to consider wearing a mask. The CDC and other health organizations recommend wearing masks when you cannot obey proper social distancing.
However, you do not have to wear a clunky fack mask for riding. You can choose to wear a thicker neck gaiter or other tube type mask if the tension can be adjusted. These masks are also useful if you will be traveling in and out of populated areas because you can pull the gaiter over your mouth and nose in busy areas and push it back down easily when alone.
Will Wearing a Mask Make It Harder to Cycle?
Wearing a mask can make it slightly harder to breathe and may even be uncomfortable, but the ultimate effect is minimal. It is important to remember the reason for wearing a mask in the first place. People are being encouraged and mandated to wear masks because it limits the spread of the disease. Opting out of wearing a mask puts you and others at higher risk.
There are several options for comfortable and practical face coverings for cyclists, including the buff or neck gaiter, despite some articles suggesting otherwise. Essentially, when choosing a mask or face covering, you want one that can conform to your face, and that is at least three layers thick if cotton or other fabric.
Cleaning Your Mask After a Ride
Not every mask is reusable and washable. Most surgical or N95 masks are one-time use. Do not attempt to clean or reuse these masks as they lose their effectiveness. Reusable and washable cloth masks are quickly becoming popular among athletes and regular people. The cost-savings and prolonged efficiency make these masks a vital tool in the fight against COVID-19.
When a mask is washable, it will state it on the package or the mask itself. Often you will find the cleaning instructions on a tag or pamphlet. If there are no instructions, then you have a couple of options for cleaning: handwash or machine wash. The CDC recommends using a bleach solution for handwashing and soaking the mask for five minutes before thoroughly rinsing with cool or warm water. If you machine wash your mask, then use regular laundry detergent and place the cycle to the warmest setting for the material.
Always read instructions for the mask. Not every mask can handle a washing machine or bleach solutions. The manufacturer of the cover knows best, so when in doubt, contact the company by phone or email.
The world is combatting one of the worst pandemics in decades, and it is up to everyone to act responsibly and care for each other. If you ride solo through baron locations, do not worry about a mask, but if you travel through populated areas, find a local shop and buy one.
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