A Doctor of Epidemiology Rides a Bike During a Pandemic – An Update

Meg Thorburn BSc, DVM, MPVM, PhD

The times they are a changing and what a long strange trip it’s been – Bob & Jerry

Epidemiology: The study of how diseases arise and spread within populations; the identification and quantification of risk factors that increase the frequency and severity of a disease in the population; the evaluation of preventive and mitigation factors.

Epidemiologist: A medical professional who investigates patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans and animals. Epidemiologists seek to reduce the occurrence and consequences of negative health outcomes through research, community education and health policy.

With regard to the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), we are now at a place of better understanding of a good number of things, some of them scientific and medical, others more a commentary on the social anthropology of how society reacts in circumstances with limited, varying, and at times, conflicting information – so what was the toilet paper thing really about?

It’s great to be in such intelligent company, however, knowledge and understanding evolves, hopefully for the better. Some things I have written below you already know, but I will state them anyway for clarity without assumptions.

For example, we now know that surfaces and objects are not as significant a mode of transmission as we originally thought – earlier suggestions on the risk of surface contamination were laboratory examples and greatly exaggerated by comparison to real world measurements and examples.

The novel coronavirus is not “cooties” – you won’t be infected simply by being within two metres of an infected person, or just by sitting in a chair they were in. There are many pathways of transmission that have to be navigated by the virus before you actually get infected, all of which combine to reduce your likelihood of infection. While being two metres apart in the outside world almost guarantees no transmission of the virus, it is however, not true that simply being less than two meters guarantees infection. The virus still has to leave someone’s mucus membranes and get to yours in a viable enough state to colonize and reproduce.

As most of us know, Canada’s two metre rule is about a physical distance limitation of how far virulent droplets can be projected when a person sneezes or coughs or speaks (sings) ‘moistly’. This distance has been established in controlled conditions and does not cover all the possible variations of temperature, UV, wind and humidity or the variable force of a cough or a sneeze. It is worth noting that most developed countries are having equal or better success with less than two-metre Social Distancing, and that the WHO recommends a minimum of only one metre.

Outdoor Transmission: After more than a half year of this pandemic and over 14 million cases, there are very few documented examples of the virus having been transmitted outdoors, and those that have occurred have involved prolonged close proximity and/or physical contact with an infected individual.

The likelihood of being in the proximity of an infected person is currently extremely low in Guelph (twelve known cases at the time of this writing). If all the known infected people chose not to obey their order to self-isolate, the chance of coming within range of one of them would be 12 in 135,474 or a 0.009% chance. Even if we use the most extreme assumption that there are four asymptomatic cases to every one known case, the likelihood would be 0.04%. I hate to use this comparison, but as a cyclist, your chances of being hit by a car are most likely higher.

Masks outside of the healthcare system: Very simply in the words of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, doctor Theresa Tam, “You wear a mask to protect me and I wear a mask to protect you”.

Ontario is now entering Stage Three of Phase 2 in it’s Framework for Reopening our Province in responding to COVID-19 and here are three key elements that are relevant to group cycling:

“Limiting outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 100 people, or less, to maintain physical distancing.”

“Physical distancing must be maintained, except if playing a team sport or as needed for personal training.”

“Amateur and recreational sports leagues may resume so long as they do not allow prolonged or deliberate physical contact between players or if they have modifications to avoid physical contact between players.”

It is always important to understand the risk factors. There are examples of people taking measures to protect against the virus that pose a higher risk than the virus itself. In protecting our health, we must ensure that we don’t endanger our health with bad precautions. Be smart, be safe.

Riding a bicycle on public roads is almost a perfect metaphor for this pandemic. Like a virus, cars are a risk factor for cyclists. The fewer there are and the further they pass from us, the safer we are. If there are more of them and they pass closer to us, the risk to our health increases. Neither of those factors guarantee injury, but the risk of injury increases.

We know there is inherent risk in cycling. To mitigate that risk, we take precautions. We choose quieter roads for our routes, we ride in double pace-line typically keeping cars further away from us and we train and practice our group riding. When members don’t follow the rules, we teach them better practices, expect compliance or refuse their participation in order to keep the group safe. We do all this to be safe and healthy… and happy.

Ontario has struck a similar balance in their approach to sports and other outdoor activities in the Stage Three opening by allowing flexibility in physical distancing for team sports, personal training, outdoor playgrounds, etc, and allowing sports leagues such as soccer to resume while avoiding prolonged physical contact. Inevitably, we will phase in more and more activities. The City of Guelph is also opening up its pools, wading pools and splash pads.

Am I ok with that as a professional in the field? Yes. Am I going to return to my sport of group cycling? Yes. My opinion is that the risk is now low enough. Should everyone return to their sporting activity? No. Individuals have to gauge their own risk, and in some cases, consider other factors – and ultimately, they must feel comfortable with their decision.

To some degree, we are all living in a giant experiment that’s being tweaked along the way. Are we ever going to be perfectly safe? Will the world be rid of this coronavirus? We don’t know. Will the world go back to being the same as it was before? I hope not. I am hoping we can be better than before. Let’s quit allowing people to go to work when they’re sick and let’s get them paid when they need to stay home – it’s cheaper for employers and society in the long run. The pandemic exposed a long list of social weaknesses that need improvement. It’s time to right some wrongs. We’re in this together. Safer together.

Working towards better days,

See you on your bike,

Meg Thorburn

SRCC Big Gravel Ride 2020!

COVID-19 Version

This Club Event was originally planned for Sunday June 7th, 2020. But… well, you know.

Obviously we will not be riding this together as a club or in groups, but whenever you like, just go ride the route on your own or with those in your bubble. It’s a real treat of a route and we think you’re going to love it.

We had such a great event last year on a 70 km route that was almost entirely inside Guelph, we thought we would try one that was almost entirely outside of Guelph. And like last year, we guarantee there will be sections that are unknown territory for you.

About the route: It’s 75.8 km long – 63% of it is unpaved (47.8 km). In the middle there is one very long, continuous 27.5 km gravel section – bolt on your gravel aero bars! The start and finish currently are at the Boathouse (yes, you can SD an ice cream there). The official club event was planned to have been ‘from and to’ Fixed Gear Brewing. As of the time of this posting you can’t SD a beer at FGB, but they are doing take-away! Please support our sponsors…responsibly.

Several club members have ridden this already and small tweaks have been made. A few veteran P2A types have weighed in and given their seal of approval. The route is really good!

Get out and ride this when you can. Take snacks as there is nothing en route. A rest stop was planned at County of Wellington Forest Tract Benham at kilometer 31.9 in the small parking lot, but now you’re on your own.

“Get on your bikes and ride!” – Freddie Mercury

Big Gravel Ride Report

The first annual SRCC Big Gravel Ride multi surface bicycle event took place this past Sunday July 7th under near perfect conditions. The humidity broke the evening before for a cool start at Fixed Gear Brewing at 9:00 AM for the ‘Leisurely’ group (C ride) led by veteran club member Meg Thorburn. With her were 5 other keen souls ready to tackle the 70 km course that basically never left Guelph city limits for all but 6 kms.

At 9:30 AM the ‘Moderate’ group (B ride) headed out with 17 riders breaking into two groups led by Lorenz Calcagno and SRCC VP Rich Lyle.

And at 9:45 AM The Prez, James Fedosov, led out another 12 riders on the ‘Fast’ group (A ride).

Shortly after entering the ‘Highway’ trail at Guelph Lake Andrew Krucker of the ‘Fast’ ride was derailed when a forest gremlin wrapped his rear derailleur in his wheel. Fortunately for him, pro mechanic Mike Dennis was on his ride and in ten minutes Mike converted the multi gear bike to a single speed to allow Andrew to ride out of the trails, short cut the route and meet everyone at the rest stop later on. Although ride-able, the gearing was not conducive for keeping up with Chancie Knights (like any of us ever could?) or Wilfred Ferwerda on their single speed bikes. There is something to be said for keeping your important parts up and out of the way and not dangling vulnerably near the ground or close to moving objects. Just nutty.

Speaking of Wilfred Ferwerda, a bizarre recessed curb beside War Memorial Hall at the U of G caused him to take a tumble at the same moment that it pinch flatted Daryl LeBlanc. I am sure this is not part of the School of Landscape Architecture preferred method of transitioning ground cover to pavement. Shaken, but not stirred, Wilfred was certified fit to ride by methods seen on TV and he went off to watch the women’s Dutch Soccer team lose to the Americans, also as seen on TV.

Precisely at that moment, the ‘Fast’ ride had their heads down and cadence up as they shuttled across Johnston Green in pursuit of the ‘Moderate’ ride to hand off a rider who was struggling to hang on to their speed average. However, the combination of those factors didn’t allow them to break focus and notice as they passed the ‘Moderate’ group just meters away as Daryl LeBlanc repaired his flat in the shade of trees. The irony is not lost that all of this literally took place on the grounds of higher learning.

Meanwhile, over on the ‘Leisurely’, ride Vince Mayne was convinced to lower his tire pressure to sub road racing values which made for a more pleasant ride and was far less slippery in the mud and rock. And, with less then 10 kilometers to go, club veteran Anne Nederend flatted on her trusty 26’er mountain bike. So trusty had it been, that she didn’t have a spare tube handy for the repair. The passing ride leader, Lorenz Calcagno, from the ‘Moderate’ group issued advice from his off-road motorcycle racing days, “…just stick a 700 in it, a larger tube always works in a smaller tire!”. So they did, and it did.

A few riders had to cut out early as family and other duties called – 70 km on multi surface is a longer ride than expected. Fortunately for them, being almost always in the city, the ride home was never long.

A couple of astonishing feats need mentioning: Both Will Teron and Daryl LeBlanc completed the, at times, slippery and rocky course on road bikes, on road tires! Kids, don’t try this at home, these are trained madmen! If only we awarded trophies.

Thanks to Kirsty at Fixed Gear Brewing for coming in at 8:30 AM on a Sunday morning to open up the brewery for the club (who do we talk to, to expand your business license to allow for coffee service?).

A super ‘thank you’ to the rest stop volunteers: Kevin Bodbyl (sidelined from riding with injury), Brian Hoey (local handsome and competent nursing student), Madeleine Krucker and Natalie Tiberghien who were strong-armed into service by club member Andrew Krucker – we appreciate that. You all made our ride that much more pleasant. Thanks so much!

Nearly one quarter of the club participated. Riders of varying speeds and abilities got to meet and mingle and share food and drink on a beautiful day. Every rider polled said there were multiple sections of the route they had never ridden before or hadn’t even known about.

The jury has tallied the votes and responses… the event was a success. Quoting one of SRCC’s major sponsor’s Mark Chappel, “…this might have been the best ride I have ever been on.” And all within minutes of home.

A super duper thank you to our course designers, Taylor Moran from SRB, Heather Lylyk, Meg Thorburn and Lorenz Calcagno. And to our pre riders and Ride Leaders James Fedosov, Meg Thorburn, Rich Lyle and Lorenz Calcagno. And to Gord Drewitt, Lorenz Calcagno and Meg Thorburn who went out and cut brush and grass on the Monday of the long weekend to make sure the ride was as pleasant and as successful as it could be. 0

A special thank you to the coyotes of Preservation Park for keeping the snowflakes out of our way in there. Long may they reign.

There was some loose talk about changing the name for next year’s event to be more descriptive of the type of ride. ‘The Dirty Tour of Guelph’ was suggested, but after some research, it was found that that tour already exists. It however doesn’t include bicycles, but does include some club members!

Another special thanks to Fixed Gear Brewing for being our newest sponsor, for providing a perfect start and end point for our first Annual Big Gravel Ride and handing out free beer at the end of the ride (I believe we have stumbled upon an important discovery…). Cheers!

See you next time!

Rusty Knutts (pronounced: kahnoots)

Volunteers Wanted!

Can’t ride the Big Gravel Ride this Sunday July 7th for one reason or another but really want to be involved or just want to give back to the club?

No problem!

Come on out and volunteer for the riders at the rest station for one and a half hours. You’ll have a good time doing it and the weather is promising to be ideal!

Contact Meg at meg@guelphcyclingclub.ca and let her know you’re interested in helping out!

P2A Race Report – 2019

The 26th annual Paris to Ancaster Multi Surface Bicycle race looked as if it were to, yet again, run under grey and miserable skies. But as a very last minute entry, sunshine made a rare appearance. And Sol was not the only unusual entrant. This year’s race attracted some 30 professional racers. To put things in perspective, the 2018 top position was won at an average speed of 32.5 kph and this year was won at 34.9 kph – the game has changed!

Testing themselves against the pros and a field of 1,560 competitors were 17 Speed River Cycling Club members. Taking the top SRCC spot in 30th position overall (5th in the ‘day job’ class) was El Presidente, James Fedosov with a remarkable speed average of 32.7 kph (his 31.7 kph average earned him 16th in 2018). 2nd SRCC (& PCC) finisher in the 87th spot overall was Alex ‘Flave O’flave’ Lefebvre! Rounding out the SRCC podium was long time board member and P2A veteran, Mike Dennis who took the 122nd spot overall and 39th in the largest class of the event Male 40–49. Fourth SRCC member was Robert McLay (you are signing up again this year, right… Rob?). Followed by a valiant effort of weaving through heavy traffic starting way back in Wave 4, was Phil Harvey in the 5th SRCC spot. And Jim Brogden took 67th out of 355 in the 2nd largest class of the race, Male 50–59 (this is not your father’s Autumnal years!) Next fastest SRCC finisher (and first year with the club) with a monumental effort and a first place win in the Female Single speed class was Chancie Knights. She was also 25th female overall against a fully geared field of 131. Well done Chancie! Admirable finishes respectively continued with Andrew Krucker, Michael Muffels (on a SS – also first year with SRCC – welcome!), Rich Lyle, Mike Marcolongo, Wilfred & Ron Ferwerda (continuing their single speed sibling rivalry) and Lindsay Robinson (47th Female overall!) completing an excellent showing of our fine fellow SRCC members in the 7o km race. And extra special acknowledgements are in order for the father and son teams of Andrew and Noah Wayne and Gord and Sheldon Drewitt who rode the 46 km course. Well done all! Be certain to congratulate these fine club members when next you see them. Kudos all ’round, may the sun shine upon you for many more.

Full 70 km Results here and Full 46 km results here

Rusty Knutts (pronounced: kahnoots)

SRCC Social at the Wooly Thursday April 25th 8:30PM Rain or Shine!

The First Thursday Social of the Season!

For those new to the club, this is a regularly occurring event on the last Thursday of every month of riding season. Come on out and meet your fellow club members. Discuss important issues of the day: cadence, ‘D-i’ shifting, carbon fiber  <fill in the blank>  and beer really is a recovery drink, isn’t it? We can only guarantee that the food and drink will be good! The Woolwich Arms is an SRCC sponsor and if we have enough members they often provide us with team nacho platters. Originally intended to be a ‘ride to’ gathering after the Thursday ride, many now opt for a quick rinse and a change of clothes before heading over. So don’t be shy if you didn’t ride, who’ll know? You’re unidentifiable without your helmet, glasses & bike anyway! In warmer months with later sunsets and longer rides, it’s not uncommon that some show up directly from the ride in their sweaty kit. Our sincerest apologies to the other patrons! Come for the camaraderie, stay for dinner and a pint! Extra club points to anyone  who shows up in an SRCC cap or vest! Hope to see you there!

SRCC Gives input on Guelph’s upcoming Cycling Map

SRCC was represented and gave input on the City of Guelph’s Cycling Facilities Map update process held on April 18th, 2019 at City Hall with the Engineering and Transportation department hosted by Benita van Miltenburg – Sustainable Transportation Coordinator. The process is a first in many steps to laying out a newer and better City of Guelph Cycling Map that will be used by citizens and visitors wishing to cycle safely throughout our city. It will also be referenced for future improvements to the city’s cycling infrastructure. SRCC was one of five community stake holders represented at the round table discussions. One (among many) recommendation was to have the SRCC web address and logo more prominently displayed on the map.

9 SRCC Members Damn the Torpedoes in 7th Annual Steaming Nostril Bicycle Race

From Environment Canada’s Special Weather Statement for Waterloo Wellington: “Freezing rain warning in effect… significant rainfall likely… precipitation may start as snow, ice pellets or freezing rain… winds gusting to 70 km …ground is still partially frozen…with a high of plus 1.” That was the weather for Cycle Waterloo’s Steaming Nostril multi surface bicycle race held today in Waterloo region. And what a great day for a bike race it was not! Speed River Cycling Club was well represented in, ahem, less than ideal conditions. El Presidente, James Fedosov, was our highest finisher in 9th position suffering the loss of feeling in both feet and brain for most of the race. Mike Framst took the next best position for the club at 42nd overall. And third best went to long time club member Ron Ferwerda at 67th all while on a single speed bike, impressive Ron! Speaking of impressive efforts and results, brand new club member Chancie Knights was fifth place Female overall, also on a single speed in a field of entirely multi speed bikes! Well done Chancie! Frozen digits were complimentary for all participants and thawed with bowls of chili afterwards. Hats off to Gord Drewitt, Marco Niro la Toretta, Kelly Legge, David Harvey and Andrew Krucker who gave it their best in what can only be described as some of the worst cycling conditions imaginable. Organizers promised that next year’s weather will be better. I am not a fan of finisher’s pins, but survivor medals may have been in order. When next you see these fine fellow club members be sure to congratulate them on their performances, or chide them for their maniacal sense of adventure, I trust they will accept both. And hopefully by then, they will have stopped shivering.

A wet and cold Gord Drewitt and racing fans at kilometer 38 near picturesque Linwood, ON.








Club Work Night – Side Road 25 Corner Sweeping Wednesday April 3rd 6:30 PM

These corners are notorious for not being swept by the county and we end up tip-toeing through the sand all season. So lets all chip in before riding begins and make quick work of increasing our safety. Especially since this road is instrumental in our new ‘all member ride‘ Tuesday Interval Night (TIN). Grab (or borrow) a push broom and meet us at 6:30 PM at the corner of the 25th Side Road and Townline . This will go quickly with more hands on deck. What a great way to contribute to your club and sport (and kick off the season)! Looking forward to seeing you there!

2019 Spring Social

You are invited to kick off the 2019 SRCC Season on Saturday March 23rd with your fellow club members at 5 Queen Street! Catch up on the happenings of winter subterranean training and look forward to above ground real-world riding. Bring your significant otter and let them meet the nice & sweaty people you spend some of your evenings and Sunday mornings with (while they are still reasonably presentable). BYOB and a snack to share for the food table. Hope to see you then. Start is 7PM. Hopefully the ice will be off the driveway!

Club Kit on Sale!

We’re offering all our club clothing on sale for just a few weeks so now’s a great time to save some cash and get some new kit. We will be replenishing our stock in 2019 so get as much as you want. Sale expires January 24th 2019.

Shop Here.

Annual General Meeting

Join us Monday December 10th at 7PM for the SRCC Annual General Meeting in the downstairs room of Shakespeare Arms, 35 Harvard Road.

This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to be more involved with the club in 2019. Everyone is welcome, having an interest in cycling and the club are the only requirements. We will go over the year’s financials, talk about ways to continue to improve and hold elections for the 2019 Board of Directors.

If you are interested in any of the above please join us!

Year-End Social, Thurs. Nov. 15th

The 2018 SRCC Year-End Social will be taking place at NV Kitchen + Bar, 16 Wyndham Street N, at 7:00pm on Thursday, November 15th.

Please check your email for a link to RSVP by Nov. 9th.

The social is a great chance to enjoy some casual conversations and eats with your fellow members. We will be providing the food and there will be beverages available for purchase.