News

A Simple Guideline to Best Practices for Mountain Bike Instructors, Guides and Operators during COVID-19

* These guidelines are subject to change as legislation and situations continue to evolve *

PURPOSE & BACKGROUND

The PMBIA has developed a set of guidelines and practical advice, to help provide guidance to mountain bike coaching, guiding & tour operators, during or after this COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this document is to assist mountain bike instructors, guides, and operators in adapting their business to operate safely, within the requirements of their local government regulations.

Furthermore, these guidelines are proposed under the context that in the coming weeks, many areas and operators may be allowed to operate mountain bike programs, such as lessons, tours, clinics, or camps. While some countries, states, or regions are looking into easing some restrictions, instructional riding (clinics, lessons, tours, etc.) should only resume in accordance with national, provincial, or local government orders.

By keeping a distance from other people, we not only decrease the risk of infecting ourselves but also decrease the risk of unintentionally infecting others. It is therefore imperative these guidelines be strongly considered if or when operating any mountain bike programs, during COVID-19.

This document is not intended to dictate requirements and should not be interpreted as a standard. It contains “informational” resources and examples that may be updated, revised, or withdrawn at any time. While thought to be accurate and functional, it is provided without warranty of any kind.

Operations and legislation will vary from area to area. Deviation from the information presented may be dictated by the circumstances of each unique situation and by the policies, procedures, and protocols of each individual area. Laws, regulations, and policies may also vary in different jurisdictions.

This document has been prepared by the PMBIA Board of Directors, Executive Director, and Technical Committee.

 

  1. PRACTICING DAILY HYGIENE & HEALTH ASSESSMENTS
  • Before leaving your home, practice a daily self-assessment check, like the one below. If you answer “yes” to any question, contact your employer and seek medical attention immediately and avoid going on a ride.

COVID 19 Self Assessment Check
(Government of Canada)

1. Are you experiencing any of the following:

  • Severe difficulty breathing (e.g. struggling to breathe or speaking in single words)
  • Severe chest pain
  • Having a very hard time waking up
  • Feeling confused
  • Losing consciousness

2. Are you experiencing any of the following:

  • Mild to moderate shortness of breath
  • Inability to lie down because of difficulty breathing
  • Chronic health conditions that you are having difficulty managing because of difficulty breathing

3. Have you travelled to any countries outside Canada (including the United States) within the last 14 days?

  • Do not go on a ride or teach an MTB program, if you:
    • feel ill or have COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how minor.
    • have been in contact with a sick person within the last 14 days.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 25 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Stay informed and follow the advice from your local government and healthcare authorities.

 

  1. TRAVELING TO/FROM THE TRAILS
  • Only ride within your local community. Do not travel to another community to ride, especially small ones, since they will have fewer health resources to manage patients.
  • Try to offer programs to local participants only, to avoid people traveling between communities.
  • Only travel with people within your own household, when traveling to and from trails.
  • Do not congregate in large groups at the trailhead at the beginning or end of each ride or clinic. Manage participants as needed.
  • Avoid riding in large groups. This will reduce the chance of transmitting or catching the virus while helping to maintain social distancing measures.
  • If driving and when possible, find a way to park your vehicle somewhere else than the trailhead parking lot. Ride your bike and meet your friends at a meeting point on the trail (trail intersection or special trail feature), where you expect no traffic and where no one else is gathering.

 

  1. GENERAL GUIDELINES DURING COVID-19
  • Take it easy and ride within your limits! This is not the time to have an accident and expose anyone riding with you to contracting COVID19 while providing you with first aid and bring further stress to the capacity of the medical system. Maintain this message during your MTB program!
  • If a participant/guest shows up with signs of sickness, turn them back home and ask them to seek medical advice. Report this immediately to your employer.
  • Take extra precautions if teaching children under 6 years of age in groups of 2 or more, as they will likely be challenged with distancing protocols and hygiene measures. Some protocols that can help ensure physical distancing measures are maintained when working with young children, include:
  • Only consider running children’s programs if you and/or your staff are confident both you and the children can maintain physical distancing and personal hygiene protocols, at all times.
    • If it becomes too difficult to manage physical distancing measures with any children, immediately stop the activity and focus on keeping the children safe and at least 6ft (2m) apart.
    • Stay outside when possible; give them room to keep their distance from each other. Be sure children are prepared and dressed for any weather, to avoid the need to go inside.
    • Small group sizes, ideally with children who already know or play with each other; can help reduce the likelihood of virus transmission if children are placed into groups within their own social networks.
    • Take regular breaks; tired children tend to forget rules and stop listening!
    • Practice physical distancing measures through games and drills; make it part of the fun to learn about how and why they need to respect each other’s space, during COVID-19.
    • Ask parents to clean and sanitize the bikes and equipment, before
  • Locate and inform your participants of the nearest bathrooms and sanitization stations.
  • Remind your participants, especially children, to wash or sanitize their hands after using the restroom, sneezing, and coughing, and before eating.
  • Do not shake hands, high five or hug! It’s tempting but keep that minimum distance and encourage course participants to do the same.
  • Be prepared! Beyond the usual tool and first aid kit instructors and guides are required to carry, we would strongly recommend including a face mask, hand sanitizer, and rubber gloves in your First Aid kit.
  • Do not touch another person’s bike, equipment, food, or water! Keep your hands to yourself and maintain social distancing measures at all times.
  • Guide each participant to perform their own bike and equipment check, before each ride. As always, this will reduce the chance of mechanicals and incidents during the ride, which may require you to touch their equipment or may require help from other people. If it’s children, communicate with parents to check their bikes are in good order and clean, before the lesson.
  • In the event that you have to touch a student’s bike to help set-up or repair, latex gloves should be used and disposed of, correctly. Sanitize the equipment as soon as possible.
  • Encourage everyone to wash their bike and equipment thoroughly after each ride. Remind the parents, if it’s a children’s program!

 

  1. BUSINESS/OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES AUDIT DURING COVID-19

In the wake of COVID-19 and the new risks it now represents to both staff and students, consider how you may need to add to, check in with or revise your Company Operational Procedures. As an employee, ask your employer what changes they have made to keep you and your clients safe. As an employer, we’ve included a few simple examples below to help you begin this audit process, within your business;

  • Operational Procedures: Things like staff/student ratios, how you meet ’n’ greet clients, perform equipment checks, discuss safety rules, assess student skills or teach them drills, will all need to be reviewed with the relevant health and physical distancing measures in place.
  • First Aid Protocols and Emergency Action Plans: Things like first aid kits, tool kits, first aid protocols, and emergency action plans may now all need to revise. Will your Terrain Progression plan need to be modified to encourage staff to use a more gentle terrain, to teach or guide clients? Will your operation area/trail network change to further minimize risk?
  • Waivers: How you present waivers and what they include, may need to be updated based on your location and insurance provider. Can you do them online to avoid paper waivers, if your insurance company approves this? A discussion on students managing their own safety with regards to physical distancing, could be added to your waiver presentation and/or safety talk.
  • Insurance: Does your Commercial Liability Insurance Policy cover you to operate during COVID-19? Depending on your location and insurance policy, you may not be covered to offer mountain bike lessons and tours, during COVID-19.
  • Staff Training: What protocols or policies will you have to review with your staff and ensure they understand the importance both personally and from a liability perspective, should they fail to adhere to them.
  • Ethos & Community Support: Listen to and support your local community in these challenging times. Does the community need or want MTB programs if people are concerned about transmitting the virus? If there are very low or zero cases of the virus in your area, are people keen for MTB programs to be offered? Does the local MTB club need your support if they have had reduced funding for trail maintenance and development?

REGARDLESS OF COVID-19, if an instructor, guide or business does not have any of these items in place and chooses to still offer MTB lessons or tours, they are operating without due diligence and will, therefore, be significantly vulnerable to any and all legal action, should an incident occur; not to mention significantly lowering the standards of the mountain bike instruction and guiding industry.

 

  1. SAFETY RULES DURING COVID-19
  • Discuss any risk management and safety rules, under the next context of COVID-19, throughout your MTB program. Here are some key examples, to get started.
  • RIDE AT YOUR OWN PACE! Stay in Control! Fun, no pressure environments are key for safe, effective learning, while reducing the probability of a hospital visit! Both instructors and students must respect their limits and ride smart.
  • LEAVE EACH OTHER SPACE! Distance between each rider on the trails is crucial for safety and learning and is measured in seconds. While we typically recommend a distance of 3-6 seconds between riders, a distance of 6-10 seconds would be wise during COVID-19 to help reduce the transmission of the virus through heavy breathing from a preceding or adjacent rider.If keeping a line of sight becomes challenging, use adequate terrain communication and guiding protocols, to ensure students can maintain spacing but also know what terrain is coming up and where they will be going or stopping.
  • STOP IN A SAFE PLACE! When stopping, all riders must stop to the side, so the trail is free for other users to continue through. When stopped, maintain at least 6ft (2m) space between yourself and others, at all times.Finding an area or “pull out” to stop, so riders can maintain physical distancing, must be considered. Try to avoid narrow trails that do not have regular stopping points where riders can easily spread out and stand away from the trail.
  • IT’S NOT A RACE! Only pass a rider when there is at least 6ft (2m) space between riders when passing. Signal your intention, slow down, and wait for the other rider to provide sufficient space, before passing. Be kind and take it easy. If in doubt, do not pass.

 

  1. RISK MANAGEMENT DURING COVID-19
  • Choose easy trails and make conservative decisions. Remember, easy terrain is ideal for skill-based learning. Plan your lessons accordingly.
  • Avoid high-risk situations (technical trails, jumps, drops, etc.) and focus on the simple act of being outside and getting some exercise, rather than pushing skills. Use drills and techniques to develop their riding, rather than difficult terrain.
  • Warm-up gradually… take it easy both physically and technically. Choose routes in areas that support emergency access.
  • Risk management is about knowing and understanding the risks involved with any activity you choose to do. Following these four steps will help your decision-making process:
    • Identification: know what potential and actual risks exist.
    • Assessment: how much of a risk each factor represents.
    • Prioritization: prioritize your risks based on the probability they might occur and the consequence should they do. If it’s unlikely and the consequence is low, you’re probably good to go!
    • Plan of action: manage the identified risks with informed decision-making. Be sensible. Plan ahead for a safe ride but be prepared to back down and change the plan if things change. Now isn’t the time to be exploring new trails in new places or attempting trail features for the first time!

While most mountain biker programs and training clinics are not considered “mass gatherings”, in our professional line of work, instructors, guides and coaches are required to work with others. This predisposition can expose individuals to infectious diseases like COVID-19.

Therefore, the PMBIA Board of Directors and Technical Committee strongly recommend the above guidelines be taken seriously, and as a minimum, if considering operating any mountain bike lesson or tour product, during COVID-19.

We further recommend these guidelines be tailored to suit the specific needs of the instructor, guide, or operator, according to the legislation and requirements within your area.

These procedures are designed to help reduce the probability of transmission of the COVID-19 virus, ensuring further safety for your staff and course participants, alike.

The PMBIA is committed to providing you, our members, and the industry, with regular updates that pertain to the ongoing success and safety of the global mountain biking industry.

Alternatively, if you have any other questions or concerns as a mountain bike instructor, guide, mountain bike school or bike park, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via email at info@pmbia.org.

Sincerely yours,

Signatures of Paul Howard and David Gagnon

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

COVID-19: May 1 Member Update

Dear PMBIA members,

We know a lot of our members are patiently waiting for updates and we appreciate your patience and understanding while we work hard to get you the most current and up to date information.

We’ve been closely monitoring official guidance from governments and health authorities around the world. As some provinces, states, countries have announced that they will be looking at ways to ease restrictions in the coming weeks, public health authorities are still advising everyone to practice social and physical distancing for now.

As the situation is constantly evolving in each country, province, state or region based on government requirements and health recommendations, we are reviewing the possibility to hold certain courses in locations where local authorities would allow PMBIA to run activities with precautionary measures. Unfortunately, many courses from May 12th – 31st will still need to be rescheduled. Participants registered on courses between these dates will be contacted directly with updates for their specific courses via email over the next 2 – 3 days.

In the event that a course you are registered in would run, our office will communicate the necessary prevention measures to practice before and during the course, to ensure the safety of both course participants and course conductors.

Rest assured that the decisions to run a course will be evaluated on a case by case basis; considering travel restrictions, travel required to get to a course location, local gathering restrictions, level of risks of contagion for that area, and other important factors.

For participants on courses that we have already had to postpone, we understand that you are waiting to hear for updates on these rescheduled dates. Hopefully, in the coming weeks we will be able to start reaching out to each of you with new course dates. The process for determining new dates is also dependent on each location and we will be communicating with all of you as soon as we can.

We are aiming to operate as soon as possible and we are prepared to take action to enable the participants to take part in our courses while contributing to the social distancing guidelines put in place by public authorities and governments. Our first priority is the health of our employees, members and customers. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions on your location please feel free to reach out via email: info@pmbia.org and we will do our best to answer your questions.

Again we would like to thank all of you, our members, for your kindness, support and patience while we work through this together.

Sincerely yours,

Signatures of Paul Howard and David Gagnon

COVID-19: April 4 Member Update

Dear PMBIA Members,

As the current COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress, we hope that all of our members, families and friends are staying healthy and safe in their communities. The PMBIA has been monitoring the situation and working hard behind the scenes in order to make the best decisions for our members and the community at large.

We recognize that the situation is extremely fluid and based on the current recommendations by local and national governments to stay home and stop the spread of this virus, the PMBIA has made the following decisions:

  • All courses scheduled until May 10th have been postponed or rescheduled. The participants on these courses will be contacted directly with updates on their specific course location and dates.
  • Members who are due to re-certify this year, will have until the end of 2021 to do so. Recertification is required for members who have not taken any PMBIA course within the last three years.

The PMBIA will continue to share updates via our website, newsletters and social media channels. We continue to work diligently behind the scenes to ensure the PMBIA remains strong, with increased programming and benefits for our members, as well as new policies and procedures in the wake if this changing landscape. Further details will be released in the coming days and weeks.

If there are any other questions or concerns please reach out to us directly at info@pmbia.org.

Sincerely yours,

Signatures of Paul Howard and David Gagnon

COVID-19: March 23 Member Update

Dear PMBIA members,

It is our hope that everyone is both safe and healthy. As the COVID-19 situation rapidly evolves, we’re working hard to protect our staff and participants during these challenging times. We have postponed most of our upcoming courses around the world and encourage social distancing protocols as well as practising basic protective measures. We’ve also suspended all work travel except for essential personnel.

As we are forced to stay home and practice social distancing to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, cabin fever may begin to set in! While medical experts say fresh air and exercise are important for our physical and mental health, they advise us to do so with caution.

As the spring season rolls in, many of us are looking for opportunities to get out and go for a ride. If you do choose to go mountain biking and connect with mother nature, please do so with care. This is not the time to have an accident and bring further stress to the capacity of our medical system. With this in mind, we recommend the following practices to manage risk and ensure a safe ride for everyone.

  • Perform a thorough bike check – make sure it is safe to ride!
  • Choose easy trails and make conservative decisions. Avoid high-risk situations (technical trails, jumps, drops, etc.) and focus on the simple act of being outside and getting some exercise rather than pushing your skills. We’ll all have plenty of time for that later!
  • Warm-up gradually… take it easy both physically and technically.
  • Choose routes in areas that support emergency access.

Risk Management

Risk management is about knowing and understanding the risks involved with any activity you choose to do. Following these four steps will help your decision-making process:

  1. Identification: know what potential and actual risks exist.
  2. Assessment: how much of a risk each factor represents.
  3. Prioritization: prioritize your risks based on the probability they might occur and the consequence should they do. If it’s unlikely and the consequence is low, you’re probably good to go!
  4. Plan of action: manage the identified risks with informed decision-making. Be sensible. Plan ahead for a safe ride but be prepared to back down and change the plan if things change. Now isn’t the time to be exploring new trails in new places or attempting trail features for the first time!

We are following (and will continue to follow) all official guidelines and will provide you, our members, with updates on a regular basis. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with us via email at info@pmbia.org

Sincerely yours,

Signatures of Paul Howard and David Gagnon

COVID-19 Precautions and Advice

Dear PMBIA members,

We are writing to you because we value the health and well-being of our members. As you are aware, there are outbreaks of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in many countries. Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. It’s important that we all pay close attention to the information below and remain calm. We will be sure to communicate any changes in our operations to each of you, immediately, should this highly fluid situation change.

As a precautionary measure, we would like to share with you the current World Health Organization (WHO) advice on the coronavirus or COVID-19 illness. Note that this advice is being updated frequently can be found using the following link to ensure you access the most up to date advice and guidance.

Advice for the Public: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Travel advice: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/travel-advice

Our courses and training clinics are not considered “mass gatherings”, but in our professional line of work, instructors and coaches are required to work with others. This predisposition can expose individuals to infectious diseases like coronavirus. Therefore, some precautions should be considered when working as an instructor or a coach:

  • Keep space between yourself and others
  • Limit close contact
  • Don’t shake hands
  • Avoid touching water bottles, bikes, bike gear or bike tools that are not yours
  • If a participant/guest shows up with signs of sickness, turn them back home and ask them to call their doctor

Here are basic protective measures from the WHO:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay at home away from others if you are sick
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care immediately
  • Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider

If you are travelling to a PMBIA training or certification, pay attention to travel advisories for your destination and practice the basic protective measures listed above.

We are sharing this information for the sake of transparency so you are aware and can help reduce the spread of infection. If you have any questions regarding scheduled courses please get in touch with us via email at info@pmbia.org

Sincerely yours,

Signatures of Paul Howard and David Gagnon