Updated: Jul 8, 2020
How's your lockdown going?
Obviously cycling doesn’t matter in the face of the daily tragedy of coronavirus. I'm not trying to diminish it, just reflecting my own personal experience. I'm lucky that no one in my family has been infected yet, but friends have and some of them have had very tough experiences.
As every man and his dog is writing a top 10 of everything and anything, I thought I'd go with the flow.
Let’s start with the blindingly obvious, I am riding more indoors than outdoors. I used to hate indoor riding with a passion. Even after spending stupid money on a direct drive trainer last year, you couldn't get me on the indoor bike much. Now look at me: six days a week on the bloody thing. I also used to secretly mock people on Zwift in the same way that many people openly mock me as a ‘Rapha wanker’. Now I see that they were just far sighted. When I tried Zwift first last year I thought it was a stupid gimmick and just couldn’t see the appeal. Now I’m spending time on zwiftinsider trying to work out which frame to buy in the drop shop. How times change. And so quickly.
I have actually increased my average kilometers per week in lockdown, averaging 268km a week so far and I am catching up the lost ground in my annual challenge to reach 10,000km. This is made up a combination of one hour outdoor rides and the rest on Zwift. If you had told me a month ago I would be riding 150km a week on Zwift I would have laughed and explained how you had the wrong man and that this isn’t real cycling.
The use of Zwift, combined with Discord has helped me stay in touch with clubmates and I’ve really enjoyed it. My Club has kept its three weekly rides going thanks to the efforts of a few people (I won’t name check you guys, but thank you). Anywhere between 15-30 riders are taking part and most of those are on Discord also so all able to chat together. The value of this kind of socialising should not be underestimated. Plus getting stick while trying to ride up Alp du Zwift is a great motivator.
Speaking of which, I set myself the challenge of riding up Alp du Zwift every Saturday morning during lockdown. I can only hope that lockdown ends sooner rather than later, as the first three weeks of this has destroyed my legs.
I took part in a race. OK, it was virtual. Yes, it went as well as you might guess and yes it was only 30 minutes. But I haven’t entered a race since my last triathlon which took place in black & white. I have never felt the slightest inclination to take part in a bike race as I am acutely aware of my own (in)ability. What I can say is, I didn’t come last.
I used to only give Strava kudos for outdoor rides, not indoor ones. Now it’s the other way around. I can’t bring myself to congratulate anyone who rides for more than an hour outdoors at time. I can stretch to two hours, but more than that is taking the piss. Just stop it.
I have lost my discipline with food and drink. I discovered that if its in the house, I eat it and drink it. I blame my two kids home from Uni. This is obviously preferable to taking personal responsibility. I got down to 90kg at the point of lockdown and I am still here. The extra training is being balanced out by my inability to walk away from an open packet of biscuits. Or indeed just being aware that there are crisps somewhere in the house. What it has brought home to me is that my dieting results have largely been driven by not having the wrong food in the house, rather than my ability to manage my intake better.
I love my Brompton. I bought it just before the crisis started and only had one chance to ride it on a commute as was planned. Now I am taking the chance to use it for my one hour of exercise a day. It forces me to side slower and shorter, but always puts a smile on my face. The slower speeds let me appreciate the views more and I have been trying to capture a few photos of my home town on Instagram.
I miss the gym. I am 52 and I have never previously used these words before in my life, but I had got used to the programme that my coach Rob from Hillside Coaching had set me and I felt like I was getting results. I have found it very hard to replicate the exercises at home.I mean I could do it and there are a 1,001 workouts on YouTube now to I could follow, but they just don’t grab me. Maybe you can do PE with Joe or HIIT sessions with some SAS type bloke, but I have an aversion to those things. I am still doing my yoga/stretching sessions though with the Body Weight Warrior on YouTube.
My eldest brother bought a bike. A man who hasn’t ridden anything without an engine in it for over 40 years. A man who has mercilessly mocked me for riding a bike and wearing lycra. But in lockdown in Texas, he has discovered that he quite enjoyed being on a road bike. I thought hell would have frozen over before this ever happened. I should have taken into consideration that before you get to frozen hell on the disaster-meter, you have to go past global pandemic, world war, the apocalypse and the boredom of living in Texas.
*not an original joke but once you read it you can’t un-hear it in your head. And now I’ve shared it with you. You’re welcome.