Coached athlete and multiple Gran Fondo winner, Ruari Grant, shares some of his thoughts amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
This time last month Hannah and I were looking forward to putting the winter behind us, getting down to Nice for a week, and for my first Gran Fondo of the season. Everything has been turned upside down since then: the global coronavirus pandemic has since seen that particular event cancelled – along with pretty much any organised gathering of people anywhere in the world!
Every aspect of people's lives is currently being disrupted in previously unimaginable ways as most of us are forced to stay at home, while for NHS staff and other key workers the workload is becoming overwhelming. Those of us with stable office jobs that can be done from home really are the lucky ones and provided we don't suddenly have home-schooling to juggle with work, it is an opportunity to slow down, putting our own ambitions, work, sports, short term achievements and social commitments aside for the greater good.
For cyclists, an off-season in March comes as a bit of a shock! It can be easy to focus on the lost racing and wasted training (not to mention, for us, our planned sabbatical) but there are positives. I personally find you can easily lose the simpler pleasures of bike riding at this time of year as the season looms and the discipline increases, so perhaps a forced slow-down and cancelled races may enable (or enforce – depending on your perspective) a more relaxed approach.
We are taking the time to enjoy riding in the hills, in some pleasantly spring-like weather, and the flexibility of working from home every day certainly helps! With no racing on the horizon there's no need to stress about the diet either, and the range of hot cross bun flavours on offer this time of year is something we should all be taking advantage of!
That said, structure and routine are still useful. While I know people are hitting Zwift in record numbers, without wishing to get into the 'to ride or not to ride' debate, getting outside on the bike is key for me to maintaining a healthy mind. The plan with Liam is to start throwing in some specific hill climb-esque sessions with a view to knocking off a few new Strava segments in the Peak District. All the while maintaining self-isolation!
I find having these goals (which are within my control) to be hugely motivating, which gives me something to prepare for. Another positive, is that it gives us a chance to test some new and innovative training protocols. Normally when preparing for an event, there’s a real pressure to perform and we stick to what is tried and tested. This enables us to figure out if there’s a better approach for me, keeping things mentally fresh, with something new and exciting to try.
I'm also pondering learning the rollers... and to wheelie. We are supposed to be minimising trips to hospitals though so maybe that will have to wait!