As the country moves forward out of lockdown, Swift Trails is excited and looking forward to resuming MTB activities and reconnecting with clients.
It has been a long, difficult and challenging time for folk on so many levels and a return to some semblance of normality is eagerly anticipated. What is clear is how important biking in all its many forms has been for us, our families and children in keeping active and maintaining our emotional and physical well-being. Whilst out on my daily biking jaunts I have seen so many people cycling – some are riding ancient looking contraptions that have clearly been dragged out of the back of sheds whilst others are out on shiny new steeds; brilliant news for our local bike shops who are doing well with sales and servicing. But of course what we are learning (as if we needed telling!) is that it doesn’t matter what you ride (as long as its safe!) what matters is getting out and enjoying the journey and this enforced period of lockdown has actually introduced so many new people to the joy and simple pleasures of biking.
At the present time I do not know and cannot put an exact date on when we will start operating again, although it seems likely that a return to activity will be permitted in Phase 2 and will start with 1:1 guiding. Along with other activity providers I will be guided by the Scottish Government to ensure the safety of clients and minimise the risk of spread of infection. I will need to wait until Forestry & Land Scotland open up the trails again at Glentress Forest. There may also be an easing in period when trails are re-opened for recreational use only before commercial activity can resume again. We may see a rise in the ‘R’ number and have to delay a return to business. There are so many factors influencing a smooth transition that all I can do is take it one day at a time.
What I can do is carefully consider my Duty of Care to clients and work to ensure that all activities are as safe as I can possibly make them. I also want to ensure that those clients who had courses cancelled in March, April and May and who have patiently and kindly postponed their activities are amongst the first to be offered places on courses and rides etc
Though constantly evolving, my operating procedures will ensure optimum safety on Swift Trails activities and will hopefully inspire confidence in my clients. At present they look something like this:
Anyone who is clinically at high risk from the coronavirus is asked not to sign up to Swift Trails activities at the present time
To ensure physical distancing is maintained group sizes will be reduced to a ratio of 1 leader to 4 clients. (Phase 1 is likely to see 1:1 activities only)
To avoid handling of paperwork where there could be a risk of cross infection, online bookings will collect all necessary rider information and clients will be asked to agree to terms and conditions at the time of booking.
Clients must accept that physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet) will be adopted to reduce the risk of cross infection but should they be injured or become unwell during a session it may be necessary for the bike leader to assess the client and treat appropriately which may require the leader to be physically closer than 2 metres or indeed have physical contact with the client. If the client is uncomfortable with this they should refrain from signing up to any Swift Trails activities at the present time.
Clients will be sent pre-activity information with clear instructions about what they should bring to sessions and how to be equipped – this will be a compulsory list to reduce the risk of cross infection through sharing equipment, food and clothing etc.
All clients will be expected to wear a properly fitting bike helmet and will be sent instructions on how to fit their helmet correctly. Gloves will also be compulsory, safety glasses are highly recommended and is participants have them please wear knee pads. Any protective equipment that reduces the risk of injury and the need for close contact whilst receiving first aid is to be encouraged.
All clients will be expected to come to the session on a bike that is well-serviced and safe to ride. They will be sent instructions on how to carry out a bike safety check.
Clients are asked to take appropriate hygiene measures to ensure the bike they ride is as clean as possible paying particular attention to contact points ie the handlebars, brakes and gears. If bikes are being hired it is the clients responsibility to satisfy themselves that the bike they use is cleaned appropriately to minimise the risk of cross infection.
On the day
Any client who is unwell or who has been in contact with anyone who is unwell must continue to follow the guidance set out by the Scottish Government and must not attend the course. A refund or postponement to a future activity will be arranged. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/what-to-do-if-you-or-someone-you-live-with-has-coronavirus-symptoms/staying-at-home-if-you-or-someone-you-live-with-has-coronavirus-symptoms/
Swift Trails will carry alcohol based anti-bacterial hand sanitiser, nitrile gloves and face masks (meets EN14683 Type IIR) to ensure good hygiene practices are maintained when required. Swift Trails does not envisage making the wearing of masks mandatory during sessions as I think it is important for safety that participants can hear instructions clearly, particularly those who may be hearing-impaired. However we welcome clients wearing face coverings if it makes them feel more comfortable doing so.
Clients will be asked to maintain physical distancing of 2 metres (6 feet) at all times.
Bike Safety checks/ ‘M’ checks will be carried out by the bike leader – This is important to reduce the risk of accidents and possible injury. Hands will be washed using hand sanitiser between each check. If bikes are not safe to ride or have any mechanical problem the client will not be allowed to participate in the session until the bike has been repaired.
If during the course or activity a client becomes unwell or is injured and it is necessary to interact within the 2 metre physical distancing guidance or physically touch the client, the leader will take necessary measures to reduce the risk of possible cross infection by cleaning hands, wearing gloves and a face mask.
Toilet facilities will be limited if not available at all. Clients will be required to bring their own ‘toileting equipment’ and it will be their responsibility to remove waste from the site and dispose appropriately.
If clients become unwell with Covid-19 in the 14 days after the course, please inform Swift Trails so I can inform other participants and also take appropriate measures myself.
It is really important that clients are comfortable with Swift Trails operating procedures and agree to abide by them. We all have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to take all necessary measures to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19 and spreading the disease. I will be operating in exceptional circumstances and will need to navigate my way through the next few months very carefully. If clients have any concerns or do not agree with the procedures I am putting in place, I respectfully ask you not to participate in activities until these measures can be eased.
I welcome all comments and feedback – please do get in touch if you have any additional ideas how we can make a return to social biking as safe and enjoyable as possible.