‘It helps maintain my sanity’: How Cycling Weekly readers are riding during lockdown

We asked and you responded

The coronavirus pandemic has and will continue to have a huge impact on all of our lives. During this difficult period it’s been more important than ever to take some enjoyment wherever we can find that.

For cyclists that means riding their bikes. While different countries currently have varying restrictions it seems that people have been getting out on their bikes more than ever, which can only be a great thing if people are doing it in a safe way given the current circumstances.

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Some, such as riders in France and Spain, have had to stick to their indoor trainers but others have had their riding habits unrestricted and so have been able to take full advantage of roads empty of other traffic.

We asked our readers, from the UK to the French Alps and the USA, to share their experiences of riding during lockdown. Here are a selection of the responses we got back.

Peter Witting, 76, East Midlands

Peter Witting

I’m no longer able to join others on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Sundays but am still riding alternate days from home and getting back in time for lunch. I’ve also been getting fitter as solo efforts are slightly more energetic than when I’m riding company!

After each solo ride I post pictures from the route annotated with info and post it on Facebook, shared with “friends only” to avoid the coronavirus Stasi – there a lot about! This seems to be appreciated by folk who are staying at home wherever they are.

Norman Saunders, 64, Czech Republic

I feel extremely fortunate to be under coronavirus restrictions here in Northern Bohemia, the only impediment on my cycling has been the mandatory wearing of a face mask and now even that requirement has been removed.

As a 64-year-old, cycling is my main source of exercise and at the moment I’m filling the free hours by doing even more than I normally would.

I’m in my final months of an English teaching contract and despite some tuition being moved online I have fewer classes than I would normally.

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So I have plenty of time to tour around the highways of this beautiful little country. Reduced road traffic has of course been a huge bonus and to top it all the weather has been glorious. Last week I clocked up 420km and this week will be about the same – I feel fitter than I have been for years.

Cycling is a hugely popular sport and pastime here and every day hundreds of serious riders, or just families with kids, have all been out and about enjoying a unique cycling opportunity – probably a once in a lifetime opportunity because now that restrictions are gradually being eased the quiet and almost empty roads are beginning to see the familiar increase in traffic again.

I certainly won’t regret the end of the pandemic, but in my case, the very dark cloud has certainly had a silver lining.

Michael Kappen, 49, Grantham, Warehouse Manager

Michael Kappen

Lockdown means I am back to cycling alone. I enjoyed the social element of a group ride and also being able to draft and hide from the wind. Riding alone means you have to deal with the elements alone but also means you can go hard or easy when you want to.

Cycling helps maintain my sanity, not only during lockdown, as it gives me escapism from day-to-day life and I can enjoy the countryside and the sounds and smells that you miss when you drive.

To pass the time without racing, I’ve been watching old races on Eurosport and YouTube instead. I was gutted the Classics were cancelled as I love watching the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Bob, 40s, Yorkshire

I work in IT so there’s always been some flexibility in work location but now it’s 100% at home. Having a busy life means I used to put in a one or two hour ride maybe once a week, either tarmac or cyclocross, but now that I’m at home and not spending so much time on a commute I find it much easier to put in a cheeky little ride before I switch on my laptop at 9am. Also, I can get more chores done during the week so there’s more free time for a bigger ride at the weekend.

I’m not an elite rider but there’s been a dramatic increase in my training volume and quality and I’ve also been enjoying it more because the roads are quiet and the weather is sunny. However, I’ll never get a KoM on Strava. I might be getting fitter but so are a lot of other local riders right now.

Edd Knurek, Cotswolds

Edd Knurek’s Bottecchia

Cycling in the Cotswolds is a pure delight during lockdown. Lovely scenery and I am astonished by the number of people I’ve seen out cycling, alone and with family members. Many of them, I think as much as 80 per cent, are new cyclists.

It’s very, very quiet here on the roads and it’s a pure pleasure to relive myself from decorating for an hour a day. Broadway is usually absolutely laden with tourists this time of year.

I live four miles from Broadway in a small village so I’ve been out as normal nearly every day as I’m currently furloughed.  I love the hills and there are in abundance here locally so I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to cycle them with very little traffic.

Keeping fit is now especially important and I find the time to forget about the current dire situation while cycling.

David Heath, 65, Bedford

David Heath

I am a social rider, riding mostly with Flamme Rouge, Bedford. I belong to two clubs, Beds Road Cycling Club and iCycle. I ride a Ribble SLe e-bike as I suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and struggled on uphills. I rode outside most weeks until the lockdown. I ran out and bought an Elite Drivo smart trainer, joined Zwift and resolved to get fit during the lock down.

I am set up in the garage and on Zwift every day. Flamme Rouge and iCycle are arranging meet-ups on Zwift several days a week. I have also enrolled on a six week FTP builder course on Zwift. My fitness has come on in leaps and bounds. My FTP has risen from 190 to 212 and I have also lost 3.5kg during this time. I am amazed at my progress.

Ken Cloridor-Wood, 71, French Alps

Ken Cloridor-Wood

I can’t ride outdoors due to French lockdown regulations so I am training indoors. I have used a Wahoo Kickr for the last two winters as cycling in winter is impossible. I don’t like watching re-runs of races I have already seen but I’ve been reading cycling magazines to pass the time.

Todd Evenson, 46, Colorado

Todd Evenson

I am thankful the rules in place in Colorado still allows me to continue to ride. I don’t touch the indoor trainer, if it snows I ride my fat bike. If you live in Colorado, the weather changes by the minute. So the day after it snowed I hopped on the road bike and enjoyed a 90km ride. I hope the pandemic doesn’t hurt pro cycling as I’m a huge fan.

Richard Horn, 41, Winchester, Electronic Engineer

As before lockdown I’m currently doing one longer ride at the weekend, similar or maybe a bit shorter than before at around 50 miles. But obviously I’m always keeping it local and keeping a tighter radius to my house, no more than 10-15 miles so in a worst-case mechanical I could walk home. I’m also taking all supplies with me, water and snacks, so I don’t have to stop anywhere.
Due to other activities such as using the gym and swimming currently being unavailable I’m doing more midweek training rides of one to one and a half hours, although before I was cycle commuting which I am not doing now. Overall, my mileage per week is around 100 miles.
Cycling has helped me a lot during lockdown as at home I am either working or parenting two hyperactive children (aged one and a half and three), so getting out for exercise is the only time I really get to mentally switch off – not sure how I would be coping if I was locked up how they currently are in Spain.