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Covid-19 and Cycling

These are the strangest of times. A country in lock-down is no longer the preserve of post-apocalyptic films. We are living it and adapting day-by-day to this new reality. We all use words and phrases that meant nothing to us a few short weeks ago; flatten the curve, zoom, social distancing, #wfh.

My previous work from home set-up involved a garden table. This is much better...

We have gone from toilet roll hoarding to full lock-down in so short a time that it is clear that we are living through an historic moment. Any notion that the world can just pick-up and carry-on as normal after this is naive in the extreme.

I hate to be the one to say “I told you so”, but when all around me could only say it was nothing worse than the common flu, I knew they were wrong and had no grasp of exponential growth. When Wuhan was brought to a standstill it was clear to me that, in this interconnected world, it was only a matter of time before it knocked on our doors in Europe. Students in the future with the benefit of hindsight will understand that our leaders reacted too slowly.

My last run before the lock down. It looks like all that hard work will go to waste over the next few months.

It all became very real for me when it was clear there would be no heroics in the Roubaix velodrome this spring. The cycling off-season will continue on beyond the Giro d’Italia and likely the Tour de France (although there is a vague plan for that to go ahead on closed roads. That is a subject for another blog). The start of the spring classics usually marks the time when I finally get the bike back out onto the road and even contemplate shaving my legs again.

When even walking outside seems like too much risk suddenly I didn’t have the appetite to get back in the saddle. I have accepted that my main exercise for the next few weeks (or months) will be pedaling and going nowhere on the turbo trainer.

Indoors and on the trainer. It turns out a turbo trainer is not just for winter.

I could go outside and cycle. The Prime Minister said I could (in the UK as I write this you are allowed to go outside to exercise once a day and this could be a walk, a run or a cycle). But I won’t.

Put simply I do not want to be that guy. The guy that crashes and ends up in hospital. The guy that has to explain to front-line doctors why I absolutely needed to go out on a bike ride when they were trying to keep the country alive.

Judging by Instagram, a lot of the pro’s are having to train at home so if it is good enough for them then it is good enough for me. But just because it is the right decision, it doesn't make it any less boring. Unlike most of the pro’s I don’t have a fancy smart trainer and a subscription to Zwift to pass the time. My partner would throw me out if I splurged cash on such things and ultimately would rather save the money for a new bike when we are allowed to slowly get back on with our lives.

My set-up is not one likely to make the pro's jealous but it is good enough for me.

In terms of my exercise, the worst thing about the lock down is not being able to go out a run just when my endurance and speed were getting better. With the race postponed until September I am hoping I will have enough normality in the summer to get it all back.

My new trainers have only seen the road twice thanks to the lock down.

Again, I could, at the moment at least, go out for a run but my general paranoia and feeling that the best thing everyone can do right now is to stay in and hold tight stop me. Anyone that knows me and has read the blog will know that I use exercise as an escape and it is as much a mental detox as a physical one. If I can stay in and avoid it to help the country then so can everyone else.

To make the most of a bad situation I have been exercising with my partner using YouTube workouts. Mostly it is women telling me to push it so that I have the perfect beach body for summer. Mostly it is insanely hard for a person who has not done any weight training in a decade. I have seen stronger cores in an apple.

I will persevere for that perfect beach body and pert bum that I have been promised. I should be embarrassed that my pregnant partner is putting me to shame but I just tell myself that I am a cyclist and bathe in the solace of not even needing an upper body.

I have also been doing exercise videos with the two kids to keep them moving and they have enjoyed the daily Joe Wicks videos. I read that he is donating all his revenue from these to the NHS after seeing a huge spike in his advertising revenue. This makes me happy. One effect of this crisis has been to show you who the good guys are and who are the twats. With an insurmountable lead at the top of the twat pile are surely Mike Ashley and Tim Martin.

Keeping the kids moving.

These are unprecedented times where uncertainty hangs over everyone. At times like these it is good to have things which are constant and can anchor you in this storm. At the moment for me it is sticking on the Sa Calobra GCN training video and remember back to the best of cycling days. These days will return. We will get through this.

You will sweat. You will feel pain. You will feel it is all worth it.



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