How to make the most of your cycling during stage 4 lockdown

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As of Sunday August 2, Melbourne is in six weeks of stage 4 lockdown to help fight the spread of coronavirus. Among the new restrictions: the introduction of an 8pm curfew, a limit to how far you can go to do your shopping, and mandatory home schooling for nearly all students. There are also tighter restrictions when it comes to exercise.

If you’re a cyclist in Melbourne — as many of us here at CyclingTips are — here’s what you should know, and what you can do to ensure you’re staying on the right side of the law while also getting your much-needed exercise. We know much of the world is now out of lockdown, but it never hurts to consider what might come around again (as it has for us here).

What the rules say

Here are the new restrictions as they apply to cyclists:

Exercise is now limited to one session per day, for a maximum of one hour. Previously there were no limits to ride time or number of rides per day.

You must stay within 5 km of home. Until now the rules were a little nebulous when it came to how far you could ride.

You can only ride with one other person, regardless of whether they’re from your household or not. Previously you could exercise with multiple people if you were from the same household, or with one other person from outside your household. You still need to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between others.

You can’t ride after 8pm and before 5am, as per the new curfew.

You need to have a mask or face covering with you while riding. You don’t need to wear it while engaged in strenuous activity, but you must have it with you. As Bicycle Network suggests, it’s probably best to wear it as much as you can while riding though, particularly when you’re around others.

How to make the most of riding during stage 4

Restricting exercise to one hour a day and to within 5 km of home will change most cyclists’ riding habits. It’s not unreasonable to feel frustrated by these new measures.

But as restrictive as these new rules may be, they still offer plenty of latitude to do interesting rides. In fact, why not see the new restrictions as an opportunity to try something different? As they say, constraints breed creativity.

Here are some thoughts and tricks that might help you in that regard.

A 5 km radius from home is probably bigger than you think.

The circle in the map below has a radius of 5 km. That’s a lot of roads and bike paths to explore.

Image generated by 2km from Home.

There are a bunch of sites you can use to find out what’s 5 km from home. Perhaps the easiest is 2km from Home. Follow that link and by default it will draw a 5 km radius for you. Simply drop the pin to where you live and you can see what’s within range.

This is a great time for exploration.

Your regular riding might be more focused on fitness or specific training goals, but this is the perfect time to switch things up, and focus more on exploring your local area. Even if you’ve lived in the one suburb for years, chances are you haven’t discovered every nook and cranny. You might be surprised what you find.

One of many great laneways I found while exploring Ivanhoe a few months back.

Why not try a ‘Burbing’?

If you aren’t up to date on ‘Burbing’ yet, the concept is very simple: just head out and ride every street in your suburb. You can do it with a map if you like or, if you feel like a real mental challenge, do it without a map.

Most suburbs are too big to cover in a single, one-hour ride, so why not break the suburb up into chunks and do it over successive rides? Or, if you’re so inclined, why not find the optimal route for covering your entire suburb. Maybe that can be done in under an hour …

Either way, a Burbing ride is a great way to get out and explore your local area. Plus, it leads to some pretty satisfying Strava files.

Ride laps of a local loop.

Not really keen on exploring? Still keen to do a hard training ride? Why not create a short local loop that you can ride multiple times?

A tip for first-time players: try to create a loop that heads counterclockwise, so you only have to take left-hand turns. This will mean you don’t have to turn across traffic. Plus, if you can find a loop without stop signs or traffic lights, you should be able to roll most if not all of the lap without stopping. Great for training.

Once you’ve got your loop dialled, why not set yourself a challenge? Best time for one lap. Best time for 10. Most laps in the hour. Plenty of possibilities there.

An example of a short loop in Spotswood with all left turns and no stop signs.

Set yourself a climbing challenge.

Here’s another challenge: how much climbing can you do in your one hour of riding? This challenge can be tailored to suit your tastes. Maybe you’re happy just doing repeats of the same hill, trying to do as many as you can. (Bonus tip: This is a great way to become the ‘Local Legend’ on a given Strava segment!). Maybe you decide that you’ll only do each climb once in the hour — then it becomes an exploration and navigation challenge as well.

Set yourself a distance challenge.

This is similar to the above, but maybe more appealing if the idea of an hour of climbing doesn’t really resonate. Just head out and see how how many kilometres you can cover in an hour. For added flavour, try to avoid repeating the same bit of road or path twice. And, obviously, please ride safely and follow all road rules.

Ride indoors.

Of course, if you’ve got an indoor trainer and you’re happy spending hours on Zwift then you’re in luck. No need to worry about getting home within an hour, riding between 5am and 8pm, or only riding once a day. And if you’re looking for a mammoth challenge, why not consider a vEveresting?

Stay safe

These are tough times for everyone. It’s normal to feel cooped up and frustrated. Hopefully, stage 4 restrictions only last for the planned six weeks and then things can get back to normal. In the meantime, try to enjoy the riding you can do, and be sure to look after yourselves and your loved ones.

Got other ideas for stage 4 lockdown rides? Let us know in the comments below.

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