I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this now.
You might be asking, “why bother to write a blog about the boring stuff you are doing while stuck in lockdown Leicestershire”. Well, I wanted a record, for myself more than anything else detailing how I personally coped with it and what it felt like at the time. This is a historic period we are going through and hopefully we will never go through again.
Back in April there was a degree of “what do we do now?” I know I put all cycling on hold and started only walking outdoors.
May seems to have brought a bit more hope. We have seen the number of Covid-19 cases decrease, there are less queues at supermarkets, and it appears everyone is accepting that this is the new normal and are living within the framework that we have. I know there are many that are still not working, my youngest son is one of them, but there appears to be a touch of the old “bulldog spirit” shining through.
There are certainly more people out walking and riding their bikes. When I was out walking last month, I hardly saw a sole, but now, having got back on the bike, I see groups of families walking, dancing around each other at junctions trying to avoid close contact, before entering a field path.
The roads have now got much busier, and road cycling also seems to have become more popular. I am seeing many more riders, who, judging by their bikes, clothes and general cycling style, are new to the sport, or at least returning after many years’ absence. I have spotted bikes I have not seen for at least 20 years; no doubt having been dug out from the back of the shed, cleaned up and put back into service. Good effort.
My transition from kitchen turbo riding to open road was easy enough, and it appears I had managed to do the right level of training to remove some of the aches and pains I had picked up, yet enable me to dig a bit deeper once back out on the road. I have limited my time out to two/two and a half hour each time. Not being able to find somewhere for a coffee and a sandwich also limits the time out there, unless you start carrying lunch, which I may do in June if the situation does not change.
When I built the Mason in February it was with the intention of using it for off-road riding and touring, so I whipped off the mudguards, swapped the winter road tyres (28mm) for some gravel tyres (38mm) and started to explore some of the local bridleways and ‘rights of way’, which have been lost to us since mid-September when the heavy rains started.
Many of them have been either under water or in such a state that they were un-rideable, either chewed up by horses or by farmers in tractors. I had forgotten how much fun they were, and the now hard packed mud and gravel is so quick, it leaves you grinning from ear to ear.
One of the things I enjoyed last month was dragging around my little compact camera, grabbing photos as I went, and I have tried to keep that up this month while out riding cross-country, just to give a flavour of what the area has to offer.
In the long term I have kind of resigned myself to the fact that international flights are definitely out for the rest of this year, I can’t see how they are going to manage that, given the social distancing, and hotels in the UK may be reluctant to take a bedraggled cyclist in for just one night, then fumigate ready for the next customer, so some creative thinking may be required.
I have a tent, so far unused and a compact sleeping bag and it strikes me that one solution may be to do a few out and back, single night, wild camping rides, once there has been a further relaxing of the lockdown. I can see campsites being more likely to get going again early, as there needs to be little social interaction on most sites, apart from showers, and to be honest for the one night, you could make do.
One good thing about the lack of travel, is that I have been left with a few more coins in the kitty, so I have treated myself to a GRX 30/46 chainset, reducing the crank length from 172.5mm to 170mm as research pointed this being a possible issue with the hips. I have noticed a big difference, so far so good.
As the rules have relaxed towards the end of May I have joined up with a friend who has also been very strict with his social distancing and we have done a couple of rides, trying to keep apart whilst not been knocked off by the greater number of cars now appearing on the roads.
There have been a few village cafes opening up for take-aways, so we have used those as a destination and it has been nice to get time to talk face to face with someone after eight weeks of talking to inanimate objects around the house.
It has been interesting to see how their ingenuity has created safe places to stop, get food and drink, without feeling at risk, even if there are no toilets yet.
One final ride at the end of the month pushed me over 100km, so three and a half hours in the saddle, and it was nice to stretch the legs, for the first time since Mid-March.
All we can do now is wait and see what June brings as far as opening the ability to travel a bit more.
Including rides on the indoor trainer, I managed to get 1260km ridden this month, 602km more than April. Amazing being back out on the road (and off-road).