Bogies, snot and phlegm

Details of and discussion about club runs

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Philip Whiteman
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Bogies, snot and phlegm

Post by Philip Whiteman » 07 Mar 2020 08:12

One of the highlights of a club runs other than eating cake in cafes, discussing the fantastic attribute of the Kidderminster Killer and talking existential philosophy is the ability to generate huge amounts of spital, mucus, bogies and Velo Birmingham to produce snot rockets whilst riding in groups. Unfortunately this luxury may no longer be available to us.

Covid19 and the general sense that we can no longer be disgusting individuals means that we should desist from snot rockets on club runs. Anybody caught producing snot rockets on club runs will be subject to my invective, a romantic dinner for two at Hillscourt or sent on a training course.

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Re: Bogies, snot and phlegm

Post by George » 07 Mar 2020 17:55

As you know, Phil, I'm an argumentative so-and-so. I have a sort of compulsive urge to deconstruct and scrutinise the information and ideas that come my way. So, I've been thinking about your snot rocket ban. And I'm afraid I have significant doubts about its likely efficacy.

First, there's the question of how likely it is that any snot rocket released in your vicinity tomorrow morning is going to be laced with Covid-19. Earlier today, the reported number of cases of Covid-19 infection in the UK passed the two hundred mark. Of course, the true number of infections is higher. People with mild symptoms don't suspect they've got it or visit their doctors. And some recently exposed people are still incubating the virus and don't yet realise anything's wrong. It's guesswork what the true number of cases is, therefore. So let's be *very* conservative and say that the true number of cases is ten times greater than the reported number. So there are actually about 2,000 infected people in the UK. That's 2,000 out of roughly 67,000,000. Or one in every 33,500 people. If there are eight people on tomorrow's A run (you and seven others), there is a seven in 33,500 (one in 4,785) chance that one of your companions is carrying the virus. At least, that's assuming that each of your companions is as likely to be a carrier as any individual selected at random from the entire population. However, that assumption is probably false. First, because the cases are not uniformly distributed geographically, and Birmingham isn't a hot spot. Second, because the cases are not uniformly distributed through society: they are concentrated amongst people who have recently arrived from certain foreign countries and the contacts of those people. Therefore, people with extensive, dynamic contact patterns (e.g. university lecturers) are much more likely to be carriers than people with socially isolated professions and lifestyles (e.g. freelance translators living in the countryside). Taking that into account, I would suggest that there is no more than a one in ten thousand chance that someone on tomorrow's A run is carrying the virus. And that's a generous overestimate, I reckon.

Now, let's explore a scenario where it actually comes to pass that the one in ten thousand chance is realised. Worse still, the infected individual releases a snot rocket while you are riding behind them. I would suggest that the infection risk isn't as great as you might imagine. Most viruses like Covid-19 are communicated primarily in micro-droplets of moisture sneezed/coughed/exhaled by an infected individual and inhaled by someone else. The inhaled part is significant, because, while a big gob of snot that flies past you and splats on the ground is disgusting, you don't inhale it. If you're going to catch the virus as a result of the snot-rocketing, you're going to catch it by breathing in the cloud of invisible droplets expelled by the snot-rocketer. That cloud won't extend more than a metre or two. And it'll be expelled into moving air by a rider travelling at 30kph. I would suggest that the chances of you inhaling it while also travelling at 30kph are small.

I reckon that, if there's a Covid-19 carrier on tomorrow's A run, you aren't going to be infected by a snot rocket. You're going to be infected by sitting at the same table at the café, where you'll be in close proximity for half an hour or more, inhaling their second-hand air. I would suggest that the real threat isn't snot rockets; it's guffaws of laughter, suppressed sneezes and 'innocuous' throat clearances by people sharing coffee and cake with you. I should have a word with the other Phil about banning those.

Offered with tongue firmly in cheek to give you something to talk about as you ride.

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Andy Terry
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Re: Bogies, snot and phlegm

Post by Andy Terry » 09 Mar 2020 09:31

George wrote:
07 Mar 2020 17:55
I reckon that, if there's a Covid-19 carrier on tomorrow's A run, you aren't going to be infected by a snot rocket.
Restricting the A run to 1 rider should sort it

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