Lockdown month one, April 2020

Well, we didn’t see that coming.

When I wrote the last blog, there was concern about the virus in the Far East, but since then the UK has gone into lockdown, and we have been told we can exercise once a day and go to the shops for essentials only. We are lucky here, as many European countries are even preventing you from exercising away from your home.

I took the decision straight away to curtail any cycling on the road in April and see how it pans out. My fears were that it may be looked on as disrespectful for me to carry on as if nothing had changed, when all around were losing their freedom.

I also had concerns that if I were to take a fall, or as has been known, for someone to knock me off, then it would place unnecessary strain on an already overworked NHS and leave me vulnerable to infection.

PSX_20200415_125227Right now, my thoughts go out to the people who are providing support to keep the country on an even keel, despite being in a place that is totally alien to us all. I cannot imagine what it has been like for families who have members in the NHS.

Not forgetting all those people putting themselves at risk to make sure are able to buy the food we need every day.

Respect goes to everyone of them and I hope they are all remembered once things have calmed down.

What to do in lockdown?

I am aware that in the great scheme of things, there are more important things in life than riding around having fun on a bike. At times like this it really bring home how much we take our freedom for granted and how we rely on everything just rolling on as it always does.

My thoughts then turned to how I can stay positive during this period, of unknown length, when I normally spend as much time as possible in the countryside.

PSX_20200311_131125My last ride outside was on the 22nd March, and it was socially distanced with a couple of friends and to be honest it did not feel right and all three of us said it would be some time before we would ride on the road again.

During that ride I noticed that I was feeling jaded, legs aching and generally not as snappy as I would usually be. I think I was a bit fatigued and I put it down to still trying to train hard over the 2,300km since the New Year, in the cold, rain and wind.

All of that on the back of a 1250km month in December, then throw in to the mix the gale force winds and rain all through winter. Time Out!

All the above helped me face the need to change what I was doing, and I now had been handed the opportunity, whether I wanted it or not.

20200324_144203I broke it down in to what I could do in the house and what I thought was reasonable to do outside. I decided the first thing I could do was set the turbo trainer up and create a program that, over four weeks, would get me legs rested, while still enabling me to focus on maintaining or even building my performance.

They started with some steady low aerobic workouts, none less than an hour, but keeping the heart rate low and power steady. By mid April the legs were feeling much better and I could start to wind the power up, feeling much more like my old self. It is funny that, even after all these years, I still forget how important it is to rest, recover and indeed to change things up from time to time.

Stunning weather in April also meant I could set up out in the garden and feel a bit more like I was on the open road instead of staring at the fridge.

PSX_20200424_131744I also decided I should add some long walks to my routine to help improve my overall condition, bringing different muscles in to play.

I rarely use my car these days, and all shopping trips are done on foot, so I was surprised how much I initially felt the effects of the walks, once they were extended over 10km.

I am lucky that there are a lot of public footpaths, bridleways and quiet country lanes locally, so it was easy to plot walks of one to two hours, which would take you away from people and keep the risk low.

Around Easter I had noticed that I had walked around 80km since the beginning of the month, so a goal of 160km was set and some slightly longer routes were planned. I also noticed how much easier the walking had become, my hips and glutes freeing off, which in turn has helped push the pedals round when on the turbo. Win, Win!

All this walking and the stunning weather has also given me the chance to grab the compact camera and capture some images of the local area, which really helped keep me occupied. I thought I would share a few to promote this area, which people seem to view as being in the Midlands and therefore industrial.

Everywhere seemed alive with new life despite everything else that was going on.

The Sustrans NCN6 runs along the edge of the Grand Union into Market Harborough and is truly beautiful, all year round

It was interesting to see the difference a month made, taking me from small signs of life to full-on colour as spring burst through

We are blessed with some lovely views in this area, whether seen by foot or on the bike.

I completed my 160km walking challenge for the month an on such a grey day it seemed appropriate to take the photographs in monochrome.

The future?

I am guessing that there will be a relaxing of the lockdown shortly and I intend to get out on some local rides as we head in to May, but currently it doesn’t look like I will be hitting the road loaded up any time soon. Even in the UK, I think it will be a while before the hotels are fully open again, especially for a one-night stop-over. As for international travel, I think we are talking 2021, based on the latest thinking.

Let’s keep positive and hope we are over the hump of this virus soon, and everyone keeps safe and sensible.

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