The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is having a massive impact across the globe. Unfortunately the mountain biking world isn't immune. While the UK is no longer in full lockdown and most trails are now open, there's still a risk of infection, local restrictions are being put in place and many events have been cancelled. This is the situation as it stands right now...


What's the current government guidance regarding COVID-19 and cycling?

England (in areas without local lockdowns)

Unlimited outdoor exercise is permitted each day, as long as you keep your distance from others – ideally at least 2m (6ft 6in), but if that's not possible, the official recommendation is to allow "one metre plus". You can meet up to five other people, from multiple households, indoors or outdoors – so group rides are allowed. Unlimited travel is permitted to do exercise or use outdoor spaces, and you can stay away from home overnight. Social distancing measures have been implemented at most riding venues. Check before jumping in the car/van though, because some areas are subject to local lockdowns.

At the time of writing, local restrictions are in place in:

  • Bolton
  • Greater Manchester
  • Leicester
  • Luton
  • Northampton
  • The North East
  • The North West
  • The West Midlands
  • West Yorkshire

Details here:

Scotland (in areas without local lockdowns)

Unlimited outdoor exercise and travel are allowed. You can ride with up to five other people (plus an unlimited number of children under 12), but the group can only contain members of two households (unless all members are under 18) and you must remain 2m (6ft 6in) apart. No social visits to private homes are permitted. Up to six people from two households can meet at other indoor venues (eg. trail centre cafe).

At the time of writing, local restrictions are in place in:

  • East Dunbartsonshire
  • East Renfrewshire
  • Glasgow
  • North Lanarkshire
  • Renfrewshire
  • South Lanarkshire
  • West Dunbartonshire

Details here:

Wales (in areas without local lockdowns)

Unlimited outdoor exercise and travel are allowed. Up to 30 people from different homes can meet outside, as long as they stay 2m (6ft 6in) apart. It's illegal for more than six people (aged 11+) to meet inside, and these six can only be from a maximum of four households – something to bear in mind if you're hoping to meet for a cuppa before a group ride.

At the time of writing, local restrictions are in place in:

  • Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • Blaenau Gwent
  • Merthyr Tydfil (BikePark Wales closed)
  • Newport
  • Bridgend
  • Caerphilly (Cwmcarn only open to local riders)
  • Neath Port Talbot (Afan Forest and Margam Park only open to local riders)

Details here:

Northern Ireland (in areas without local lockdowns)

Unlimited outdoor exercise and travel are allowed. Up to 15 people can meet in public spaces outdoors, and also in indoor venues (excluding homes), if they stay 2m (6ft 6in) apart. In a private garden, this reduces to six people from two households. No social visits to people's homes are permitted.

Details of any local lockdowns should be added here:

Muddying the waters slightly, cycling is on the UK Government's list of 30 organised sports that are permitted with more than six participants. However, this applies to official events only (ie. races), not informal meet-ups.

Still not entirely sure what's allowed in your area? Ordnance Survey and Natural England have collated the latest advice about outdoor exercise, usefully sortable by sport and region, here:

Coronavirus COVID-19 and mountain biking
Riding with mates is permitted as long as you limit numbers, take precautions and comply with any local lockdowns. Pic: Dan Griffiths/Moonhead Media

Is there anything else to think about before going for a ride?

At the beginning of the national lockdown back in March, the emergency services and mountain rescue groups were urging people not to take any risks, to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the NHS at a time when they were desperately trying to free up hospital beds and equipment to treat patients with COVID-19. For this reason, we advised sticking to roads, fireroads and less technical trails. While the situation is more settled now and in many areas hospitals are less busy, it's still not a good time to end up in A&E, due to the higher risk of infection. So it's best to take things steady and put off tackling that 50/50 drop you've been eyeing up.

It should go without saying that if you start exhibiting any flu-like symptoms – such as a dry cough and high temperature – it's essential that you avoid the temptation to leave the house for exercise and instead self-isolate at home.

More like this

Which riding spots are closed due to COVID-19?

Most UK bike parks and trail centres are now open, although local lockdowns mean that some are only accessible by local residents, so check before travelling. One notable exception is BikePark Wales, which has temporarily closed its gates following the implementation of a local lockdown in Merthyr Tydfil.

What impact is COVID-19 having on racing and events?

The UCI World Cup series has been cut to just two cross-country (XC) and four downhill (DH) rounds and postponed until the autumn, with all venues now hosting two races on the same weekend:

  • Nove Mesto na Morave World Cups, Czech Republic (XC #1 and XC #2), 29 September-4 October
  • Maribor World Cups, Slovenia (DH #1 and DH #2), 15-18 October
  • Lousa World Cups, Portugal (DH #3 and DH #4), 19 October-1 November

Both the DH and XC World Championships are still set to go ahead, in Leogang, Austria, from 5-11 October. The 4X World Championships has been cancelled. The Marathon World Championships is scheduled for 24-25 October, in Sakarya Turkey.

The Enduro World Series (EWS) has been reduced to five rounds:

  • Zermatt EWS (#1) , Switzerland, 30 August
  • Petzen/Jamnica EWS (#2), Austria/Slovenia, 3-4 October
  • Montagnes Du Caroux EWS (#3), France, 17-18 October
  • Manizales EWS (#4), Colombia, 6-7 November
  • Farellones EWS (#5), Chile, 14-15 November

The Trophy of Nations is currently set to go ahead as planned in Finale Ligure, Italy, on 26-27 September.

The following MBUK favourites and new events have been postponed or cancelled, along with many others:

  • Ard Dales Enduro, Yorkshire – postponed until 2021
  • Ard Rock Enduro, Yorkshire – postponed until 2021
  • Bespoked handmade bike show, Bristol – postponed until 2021 (initially put back to October)
  • British National Enduro Series #1, Glentress – rescheduled for 15-16 August
  • Crankworx Innsbruck, Austria – rescheduled for 30 September-4 October
  • Crankworx Whistler, Canada – cancelled
  • The Cycle Show, Birmingham – rescheduled (again) for 25-27 June 2021, in London
  • Eurobike trade show, Germany – rescheduled for 24-26 November
  • London E-Bike Festival – rescheduled for 16-18 April 2021, in London, alongside The Cycle Show
  • Olympic Games, Tokyo – postponed until 2021
  • Naughty Northumbrian Enduro – postponed until 2021
  • Red Bull District Ride, Munich – cancelled
  • Steel City DH, Sheffield – cancelled
  • TweedLove bike festival, Scotland – postponed until 2021 (initially rescheduled for 25-27 September)
  • Welsh Gravity Enduro Series – all events cancelled
We're gutted that the Fort Bill World Cup – one of our favourite events of the year – has been cancelled. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/ Red Bull
We were gutted that the Fort Bill World Cup – one of our favourite events of the year – was cancelled. Photo: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

What effect is COVID-19 having on the bike industry?

While event organisers and private riding venues have been hit hard, manufacturers and retailers have generally been weathering the storm better. There's likely to be long-term disruption to R&D and supply chains, but many shops are reporting excellent sales, especially of lower-end bikes and spares. You can read more on the pandemic's impact on the bike industry here.

How is the situation affecting MBUK?

It's business as usual here at MBUK – or as close as it can be, in the circumstances. We're all working from home but we've got loads of great content in progress and are working closely with suppliers to make sure that everything continues as usual.

We're asking subscribers to check that we've got the correct email address for them, just in case of disruption. Don't worry – if we’re unable to deliver your magazine to you, we’ll extend your subscription free of charge, so you won’t lose out. Also, we’ll send you a complimentary digital edition. Full details here.

If you normally buy the mag in the shops but would rather get it delivered to your home, we've got a great subscription offer for you with a welcome gift or you can download our digital edition from the Apple App Store or Google Play.


Right, that’s the hard sell over! All that remains to say is that we hope you, your family and friends stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you out on the trails soon.


James Costley-White is the editor of Mountain Biking UK (MBUK), the UK's best-selling mountain biking magazine, founded in 1988. James, often known as JCW, has been an avid mountain biker since 1992, during which time he's amassed a huge amount of knowledge about the sport and masses of riding experience. He can regularly be found riding the trails around Bristol and south Wales. As well as editing MBUK, JCW contributes regular product reviews and other articles to the magazine. He's a fully-qualified professional journalist, certified as a senior reporter by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and holds a postgraduate diploma in journalism from Cardiff University's School of Journalism, Media and Culture. As well as heading up MBUK, he's worked for other cycling titles including, and Triathlon Plus magazine, along with the Bristol Post, Western Daily Press, Gloucestershire Echo and Gloucester Citizen newspapers.