As the Coronavirus pandemic has altered day-to-day lives around the world, more and more people - cyclists and non-cyclists - have hopped on their bike to get outside, explore their local area, and boost their mental and physical health.
And it's been no different for our #TeamRutland Ambassadors who have used the downtime to ride new roads near home, take on a challenge, or just switch off. We caught up with some of the team to hear all about their lockdown riding.
Life in lockdown for me has meant lots more time on two wheels! That has been a mix of turbo training and riding out on the road, the good weather of course has been a great help. I have a new found appreciation for Zwift having avoided it over the past few years, but it's given me a way to 'meet up' with and ride alongside my lovely cycling pals who have kept me sane. We did a group ride (race!) up the famous 'Alpe d'Zwift' and also have organised some #teamrutland Saturday socials. Shop rides may be cancelled but it's meant we can still get together for a ride and chat.
The roads have been much quieter and it's been amazing seeing more and more people out on bikes. It's a wish of mine that this might be a good sign for the future, as many of us know all the positive things that cycling can provide. I have used the time to try and be as healthy as possible, physically and mentally. Cycling has played a huge role in this.
It's been a tough time for many of us all with different issues and troubles during this testing period. I have sometimes found it hard to get motivated but the sunshine and good weather has really helped. Keep pedalling everyone, stay happy and healthy and we hope to be back riding together soon.
From the moment I started riding bikes I have always been a massive advocate for staying local. That's why the store rides from Rutland Cycling Pitsford have always appealed to me. There's nothing better than grabbing the bike from the shed and heading straight out from your front door and exploring your local riding. Now more than ever, it's time for everyone everywhere to head out of their front door and ride local (whilst still maintaining social distancing rules of course!). Let me take you on my local loop from the middle of Northampton - somewhere not at all mountainous, not famed for its amazing beauty spots and very much not a riding destination, yet has its own small pockets of natural riding nestled within the urban sprawl.
It was a lovely evening, one of the first few of the year. The trails were drying out, and it seemed like we might be emerging from what feels like the deepest, darkest, and wettest winter in a long time. I'd just dragged the bike from the shed, and was keen on making the most of the last few hours of golden sunlight. Legs turning, it felt good to be finally riding in just a t-shirt and shorts. I live near enough the middle of Northampton, so inevitably I had to do some road riding before I joined the local cycle network that criss-crossed through town. It felt good to be cruising past commuters whilst they're stuck in cars. A sense of freedom came over me as the freehub gently clicked, and rubber tyres buzzed on hard concrete as I pedalled past the Carlsberg brewery, its ever-present hoppy tang in the air.
Only two miles in and I began a steady climb up to the local woods, which followed a meandering single-track. The faint sound of traffic almost disappeared. The weather was incredible and it felt criminal that there are so few people outside to enjoy it. I revelled in my own private ride, shared only with the occasional dog walker.
These woods are small, but perfect for a local blast. Trails zigzag all across this small patch of woodland, making the most of the limited elevation, swooping single-track, naturally occurring rollers to pump for speed and roots to pop the bike over. The riding here is playful and fun, nothing serious at all. The tracks are short and before long you need to winch yourself back up to the top. Parallel with the A45, still busy with commuter traffic as the sun dips lower in the sky, you can see across the expanse of the local golf club, I'm sure there is something that links golf clubs to good riding spots. The summit, if you can call it that, offered a view over the town from where I rode. There's something incredibly satisfying about looking down over a town, having escaped the rush of everyday life to clear my head and unwind. The sun is almost gone as I made my way back down through the woods, having now enjoyed the first signs of spring before going back through town. Rolling past the now deserted train station as I head for home, I couldn't think of a more satisfying feeling that you can achieve every single day.
Well who predicted that?
It's been a crazy few weeks of lockdown for me. Around this time of year I usually ride to a country over 1,000 miles away but COVID-19 has certainly put the brakes on that. To keep ticking over I have set up and completed a few cycling challenges - mainly to keep me sane, but one of the rides had the complete opposite effect!
Like most active cyclists being instructed to stay inside all day bar a government allotted slot of exercise was horrendous. In March I tried a few rides out but you do get paranoid and when you get close to other cyclists to overtake (or be overtaken, very rare mind you!) you worry. Luckily where I live is surrounded by the countryside and Rutland Water is about 20 minutes cycle distance, so my rides were always aesthetically spectacular. The more I cycled in March the less effort I was doing on my rides, so I had to do something to get the blood flowing. On the 28th March I decided to do a virtual ride from London to Paris and back over the weekend. I have a selection of bikes (as you can imagine) but I didn't want to ruin my amazing Specialized Roubaix 2020's tyres on my old turbo trainer. So out of the shed I dusted off my Specialized Allez 2015 which I originally bought from Rutland Cycling, and which I used to cycle to Paris in under 24 hours and cycled to Rome aboard in 2016. After the obligatory photo it was time for the off, just a mere 360 miles in 48 hours.
The ride was a tough one, I was averaging 20mph on a turbo which was not a bad pace mainly because there was no elevation, it was easy to get into a rhythm, before I knew it I was on the 'ferry' and off for a kip while we sail over the 'English Channel'. I have done this ride for real four times and it's a great one. Anyone who has completed a 24 hour non-stop ride to Paris will know that the UK section is easy - it's the part in France which is a killer.
Starting at 3am (that hour only ever seen by me usually when coming home from a night out) I donned the Lycra for a sickening day. The only comfort I had was watching the Netflix series Sunderland 'til I die, a good friend of mine is a Sunderland fan so that was fun to watch!
Not far from 'Paris' the legs were starting to wobble and my temper was wearing thin. Every missed gear was the equivalent of the chain coming off, every niggly leg pain was a drama to me. I decided to get 'really' into Only Fools and Horses to take my mind away from being passive aggressive. Without realising it I'd done a few extra hours, so much so I was in and out of Paris. Time for a lay down!
The return leg wasn't fun - I think I burned about 3500 calories, and unlike in France the only food on offer was tuna sandwiches out of my kitchen. Sad times. I trundled off to bed for another 4 hours of sleep and essentially, I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. Just 3 more hours to go.
The end of the ride was straight forward, I had to break it down in half hour chunks because my legs were empty however I managed the feat. Looking back on this I really enjoyed it and I raised over £700 Sue Ryder which was superb.
I found myself spending a lot of time on the turbo trainer after a week of recovery which can be dull so if you are in the same predicament as me, get on Zwift. If you add a competitive element it keeps you pushing yourself even if you want to race yourself. Something which I found useful towards the end of April.
Towards the end of April I started a catchily named 'who can ride the furthest in an hour on the road' competition. Yours truly was at the top with a 19 mile effort until some decent pros got involved, with one entry entering a 20 miler. Gutted for me. However all funds from that also went to Sue Ryder which is obviously a good thing.
Again I personally need the competitive element to for my rides during lockdown, it's very easy just to go through the motions so pushing myself to my max has kept me sane! Luckily I am able to work from home during this pandemic and it's so easy just to get on the bike and ride during lunchtimes. Notably I have lost over a stone during this period and that is down to cycling. After 8 weeks of lockdown I am at nearly 1,000 miles ridden. Personally I have enjoyed this opportunity to get out and ride. Although I think my girlfriend is sick of seeing me in lycra!
Hopefully change is on the horizon but I know I will keep up these levels of cycling, I am planning to do a meaty cycling challenge in Australia next year - I hope it's not going to be on my turbo trainer watching Only Fools and Horses.
Lockdown riding has been strange for me. Riding my bike has been the only pleasure to enjoy outside of regular trips to the fridge. I've used this period to just enjoy riding my bike and the freedom it brings. However, I have missed the social side that comes with our great sport, be that the #TeamRutland Social rides I run from the Peterborough store or just heading out with my usual training mates. Adapting to a lack of cafe stops has also been extremely tricky and one I won't continue with once the world starts again.
In the absence of any real competition, I have continued to ride our local time trial course. Although it's not official, I've found it fun to go down to our local 10 mile course once per week and ride a mock TT using Strava. I have also found myself trawling the Rutland Cycling website for a cyclocross bike!
I hope everyone is coping okay with this, and hope to see you all out on the road cycling!
What a strange time we are living in at the moment. My riding up to March was pretty much where I wanted it and then:
- 7th March - last Grafham social ride
- 15th March - last competitive MTB XC race
- 21st March - last ride with anyone
I am very grateful however, that I have been able to keep up my riding & training throughout this lockdown. This may not mean much and with all that is going not that important, but for me it has kept a little bit of normality in my life and given the rest of household some peace & quiet from me!
I am lucky where I live I have many trails and routes on my doorstep where I can be out on my own. When the lock down first happened, it felt weird being outside and quite often not seeing a soul, although the lack of traffic was nice.
With the initial restrictions in place I was keeping my outside time down to the minimum but would jump on the turbo trainer if I was on a endurance day training ride in order to get the hours, it was just about doing things differently but still achieving the right results.
I was lucky to have a Tacx Flux2 turbo trainer for Christmas which has also introduced me to the world of Zwift, which has been fun but hard. I have had many turbo-trainers over the years and they have never really played a big part in my training, but with the restrictions we have had it has come into its own and having one that is fully interactive (along with Zwift) certainly helps the hours go by; many of my sessions leave me feeling destroyed.
Just before the lockdown I was lucky enough to be given a new bike for 2020, a Giant Anthem 29 2, all thanks to Rutland Cycling. This has meant that I have had plenty of time to get used to it and I have been very impressed with how it rides.
I have missed the Grafham social rides (looking forward to these returning) as well as the general socialising element to cycling, I have managed to keep up my riding and training and have, for the moment, swapped racing for chasing KOMS on Strava, while keeping safe.
One thing I have noticed is that more and more people are out riding which is good to see and I hope we see it continue. In the meantime, keep safe & healthy and hopefully I see you at a Grafham ride sometime soon.
Lockdown has been interesting for me as a mountain biker. Travelling to Wales and the North is obviously a no go, and living in East Anglia, any kind of technical riding is pretty hard to find, as such the Habit 3 has been parked for a quite a while now. That's partly due to me being completely distracted by the world of Zwift and getting absorbed all the hot and sweaty action that comes from it! Joking aside, I did / do still, have two races pencilled in this year; Ard Rock Enduro and Ard Moors Enduro. After my first Enduro last year, I realised though I'm fit for a loop round a trail centre, riding at maximum attack for 2 hours or more, requires a whole new level of fitness. As such, Zwift has been invaluable at upping my FTP, my ability to recover as pace and general fitness for the races. Coincidentally, with more time being spent in the garage, I've also got a bit distracted off the bike, with creating my Bike/Pain Cave too, be that organising the bike storage to setting up a little Zwift station. More on that, later in the year.
However mountain biking hasn't completely gone out the window. If you haven't already seen, manual machines have become the latest MTB craze while under lockdown, so i've jumped on the bandwagon and bought one myself. Its always a skill every mountain biker wants, be that because it looks cool or genuinely it can't be done by many. So alongside the intense Zwift sessions, you'll now find me practising my manuals in the garden and now on the street.
Saying all this though, the call from the mountains (hills) gets ever stronger, however after more regular Zwifting, I have been known to dabble with a bit of road riding now...