I’m sat here in glorious sunshine “enjoying” the second week of my Government directed isolation. This is due to my partner displaying symptoms of Covid-19. Luckily she only has mild symptoms, although I’m sure she’d say that the painful persistant cough and fatigue from just walking around is bad enough thank you very much. Here in the UK if you live with someone with symptoms you have to isolate yourself from the outside world for 14 days from the onset of the symptoms. the sufferer on the other hand can emerge after seven days if symptoms are gone.
So I’m now starting day 8 of total lockdown and this means it’s 8 days since I last got out for a ride on a bike. Somehow this might not have been so bad if it was winter and the weather was bad and the trails were their usual claggy mess. However, that’s not the case. It’s one of the best spring periods in the UK we’ve experienced in a long time. The sun has shone for the last three weeks, the trails are actually dusty, the blossom is on the trees and the brambles and stinging nettles haven’t grown enough across the routes to rip your skin and clothing to bits.
I shouldn’t moan, so far i have no symptoms myself, the incubation period being 2-14 days (so there’s still time!) and I know there are thousands of people suffering out there but sat here on my own with plenty of time to think It’s hard not to feel sorry for myself. I’ve even resorted to digging my road bike out of the loft to use on my ancient turbo trainer. I tried it once for a 10 mile “ride” and found it so boring. my turbo is so unsophisticated it won’t connect to Zwift or any of the other platforms so I can’t even jump on that band wagon. Smart trainers are also impossible to buy as they have been panic purchased to toilet roll levels!
the thought of pedalling down a twisty, sinewy dusty stretch of singletrack is now giving me major withdrawal symptoms. Being the Admin on @ukgravelco instagram channel and Facebook doesn’t help either. Seeing happy faces on sunny rides, riders dancing up climbs, owning descents and clean shiny bikes is like some sort of masochistic BDSM torture. all my social media is directed to this type of picture or the type of person who rides this sort of terrain. But like most addictions, even though I can’t get my fix I also can’t look away.
My other passion is for guitars but even having more time to play is not cutting it. Dream bike speccing such as a Fustle Causeway is like self flagellation and I’ve not even chosen a high end build!
It’s strange and at the same time amazing how much joy that mix of metal tubes, plastic and rubber gives you and you don’t realise this until it’s taken away. I guess it’s all about freedom really and the ability to go where you want, with who you want, when you want.
Which also brings me to the other thing the bike brings you and that is camaraderie . I enjoy a solo ride, you don’t have to take into account other peoples fitness (both higher and lower) or technical ability and please yourself if you stop of not. But, the best thing about experiences is sharing them with others, that high five or fist bump at the end of a sweet section of trail. yes I’m in my 50s and i still do this, but usually without and grace or coordination. i draw the line at using the word “stocked” though!. the mutual grin and giggles when you’ve all survived or cleared a difficult downhill or climb is one not to be missed. type 2 fun situations are less joyful in the pub afterwards if you are the only one telling the tale and there’s been no shared suffering. Bottom line is I miss riding with my mates.
So this has all been quite a depressing read I guess. That’s because I’m sat in my own bubble of misery but the only way out of this is to think ahead. the trails and routes will still be out there at the end of this pandemic (because even though I’ll be released next week social distancing rules will still apply and it’ll be local solo rides until further notice). My bike with be the cleanest with the most up to date service schedule it’s had since i built it and although my fitness will have suffered I can’t ride with anyone else and show myself up until i build those legs back up!
So if I can survive this symptom free the future is bright, it’s just a bit further over the horizon than usual, but at least that means the ride to get to it will last longer and rides that are longer are good!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my Girlfriend who despite having to endure this horrible virus put up with my miserable face, my moping around and general glass half empty demeanor over something as ridiculous as not riding a bicycle for a few days, she’s a true inspiration. Having to isolate from her in the same house and sleep in separate rooms was the hardest thing ever!
As well as planning dream bike builds I’ve been compiling a must ride when this is all over list so I’ll be asking for local knowledge in the future so start sorting out all the sweet routes for me!