Rayner rider Stuart Balfour on his riding and return to Scotland

Rayner Foundation rider Stuart Balfour was living in France and preparing for the 2020 season when the country locked down. Having stayed there for a month, he then decided to return home to Scotland where his training continues.

CW: How many miles have you done so far in 2020?

 Stuart Balfour: I’ve done around 3500miles this year so far.

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CW: Has your mileage dropped since countries started to enforce lockdowns?

SB: The mileage has definitely taken a hit the past six weeks or so since lockdown started to come into effect in France. After spending just over four weeks on the turbo, plus a small break at the start of the lockdown, my past month of training has definitely been a lot different spending my whole time on the turbo trainer.

CW: Are you now doing more miles indoors?

SB: I spent all my time on the trainer while in lockdown in France as there were strict regulations there with no riding outdoors until the 11th of May. I eventually cracked a couple weeks in and got Zwift so I racked up some miles on there and that definitely made it a lot more entertaining.

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CW: What kind of training are you now doing?

SB: Now i have gone back to very similar training I was doing back in late December early January. Trying to get some solid endurance rides in while ticking over until we have a better idea when the season will kick off.

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CW; In general, do you do big miles in training, or more focused efforts?

SB: I have been doing more miles in the past week or so since coming home. Mainly because after so long not being able to go outside on the bike I’ve just been enjoying riding my bike on home roads. When the weather is sunny riding a bike in the Scottish borders is hard to beat.

CW: Tell us about your favourite big ride at home?

SB: This is a tough question as I have so many roads I enjoy riding on at home. At the moment though I would say a loop around the Lammermuir Hills is hard to beat. For anyone in the Edinburgh area they will know it is a tough loop but when the weather is good and there isn’t a person around for miles it has to be my favourite bit of riding.

CW: You stayed in France at first, how was it over there? Where were you and were you allowed out to ride?

SB: Initially, I stayed put in France not knowing exactly how long things would be locked down for. It was a really strict lockdown though. We were only allowed to leave the house for essentials and a small amount of exercise within a 1km radius of the house. Whenever you left you had to bring a form with you stating your name, address, what time you left and your reason for leaving and if this wasn’t filled in properly you would be handed a fine. I was stuck in my flat on my own so it was a tough time and we were strictly not allowed out on the bike so my whole training would consist of turbo training. I must admit it was very mentally draining.

CW: Is that why you eventually came back?

SB: I decided after a month of being stuck in the flat on my own it would be a better idea for my mental state to come home and be around loved ones. I felt this is important in times like this. The fact we can still ride outside was also a massive bonus. It made a huge difference just being able to get some fresh air. I feel it will give me a good chance to refresh my head and think of other things rather than just the bike all day. Then when I get back I will be in a good place to commit for the rest of the season.

CW: How are you approaching your riding now there’s nothing in the diary to train for?

SB: I try to strike a balance of ticking over, while not committing too much. I feel it’s not the time to be killing yourself training with everything that’s going on in the world. It’s a case of just keeping things ticking over and when we start to have some dates when things will kick off again I will be ready to add in a bit of intensity and hit the races ready to go.

CW: What does it mean to lose a season at this stage of your career?

SB: This is probably one of the toughest questions right now for me. This was going to be a real make or break season for me in my career so it’s going to be tough to know what to do going forward. There are a lot of things that can happen but we will see if we manage to get at least some of the season. Then the question will be what sort of money will be available for teams in the following season. So for me right now it will be a case of waiting and seeing what happens and just trying to make the most of any opportunity that might come my way.

CW: What tips do you have for people to stay motivated at the moment

SB: This is the tough one at the moment but I would say the best thing to do is just ride to how you feel. For me, I have had a big boost of motivation from just getting out and riding without worrying about what power I’m doing or doing specific intervals. Just enjoy riding your bike and once you are happy out on your bike then the motivation to do more will come flooding back.