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Biking through the DMV and These COVID-19 Times

November 11, 2020

Hey y’all,

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am finding this pandemic/COVID-19 moment we are currently living to be both neverending, but also stifling. When I was home, where I fled to for summer break, I was on an island and had a beach to walk and rivers to kayak; but alas, since being back in the DMV, I’ve found myself spending more and more time indoors. It is now fall and I still enjoy getting outdoors and the perk of the DMV is that you get to enjoy the fall leaves, a thing I never got in GA.  Don’t get me wrong, on the plus side, it is forcing me to write my dissertation, which I guess is a good thing. However, I can’t shake the feeling that I need to be outside and in fresh air. I am both blessed and cursed to have many friends who are doctors, one of whom works at the Mayo Clinic, whose staff clinicians publish great articles on current and social health conversations. So being the good graduate student that I am, I went to Mayo to see if they had published anything on the pros and cons of outdoor activities and found the following article: “Safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

While the whole article lists activities, both indoor and outdoor, and the varying levels of risk, the key takeaways are that A) outdoor is better than indoor, and B) there are lower-risk ways to move around. Mayo suggests: 

Coming into close contact with people who don’t live with you increases your risk of being exposed to someone infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. That’s why, in general, any activity that allows you to keep a social distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) from others is lower-risk.

There are many activities you can enjoy close to home, whether you’re visiting your favorite public park or even spending time in your neighborhood. Get moving with these low-risk outdoor activities during the pandemic:

  • Walking, running and hiking
  • Rollerblading and biking
  • Fishing and hunting
  • Golfing
  • Kayaking, boating and sailing
  • Fitness classes, held outside, that allow distance

Avoid crowded sidewalks and narrow paths and choose routes that make it easy to keep your distance. Wear a mask when you can’t maintain at least 6 feet (2 meters) from people you don’t live with. Don’t wear a mask during activities in which it might get wet, such as swimming.

Now, as some of you may know, I wrote a blog post last year on hiking in the area; if you missed it check it out: https://gradlife.gmu.edu/enjoy-the-foliage-and-take-a-hike/, and I thought I would continue in that them and go over some other fun outdoor activities you can take advantage of in the region, in the waning days of autumn getting out enjoying the last pre-freezing weather and seeing the fall leaves is a beauty I can’t get over. This time I will focus on biking, as it has become a new hobby of mine over the last twelve months.  

I, personally, am a big fan of biking and just got a new hybrid bike to take advantage of the urban and rural biking trails the DMV offers. Connecting the District and Maryland, you can take advantage of the Metropolitan Bike Trail (MBT), spanning from Silver Spring, Maryland to the downtown D.C. It is a great quick ride

 and fun for the experienced biker to the novice. When biking the MBT, make sure to appreciate the urban art painted along the trail. Another fun bike trail in DC is in Rock Creek National Park. The bike trail spans parts of both the NW and SW quadrants of DC and offers some of the nicest views of green space you can find in the District. 

As I mentioned in  the hiking blog post, the Billy Goat Trail is great for hiking; however, what I did not mention is that you can also bike it. It’s super fun — you get to bike along the Cheasepeake-Ohio Canals. For this biking adventure, I would suggest sticking to a mountain or hybrid bike; the thinner tires of city bikes might not be the best choice for this riding terrain. 

In NoVa, the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail would be my favorite trail to ride. It is a good trail for both city (as it is mostly paved) and mountain bikers. The trail is 40 miles in total and spans a large part of Fairfax County. While it is a little more crowded than the Billy Goat Trail and Rock Creek, it is not as packed with walkers/runners as the MBT. You can also stop along the way and enjoy the many parks and waterfront areas along the way. 

I know there a lot more areas and spaces to walk, run, or bike through, and I hope this blog encourages you to do one simple thing: get out and enjoy some form of outdoor activity and life. Have a great week and thanks for joining us once again.

– Austin

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