Bike Life: Riding the COVID-19 wave
Words by Jo Lythgo.
When the news broke last month that we could no longer ride our bikes in groups – that we had to go it alone, with our family or with one other person only – the rebel in me wanted to stomp my feet and say no, no, NO!
With COVID-19 coming like a bolt of lightning, taking a grip of the world and already changing so much -from the way were doing business, how we were travelling, and even how we were dining – the one constant for many (and certainly for me) was cycling, and cycling with friends.
How could this wonderful, exhilarating exercise, which I did mainly with my girlfriends, be all of a sudden banned?
Feelings of anger and disbelief were my instant reactions.
Seeing boot camps and outdoor running groups still carrying on, I felt targeted.
But then, within days, the hammer came down on those activities too and suddenly we were all in the same sad, isolated boat.
For my family and me, life still seemed the same.
I am lucky enough to work in an essential industry and our family-run business was still okay to remain open, so my day-to-day routine was unchanged.
Mentally, I felt conflicted.
On one hand my life was normal (although for many around me it was completely different).
On the other hand, I was no longer able to do something I loved – and I was struggling with that.
Losing group riding really played a number on my motivation – especially for getting up at the crack of dawn to hit the pedals.
For the first few weeks I found myself still setting the alarm for 5.30 am but always hitting snooze as it blared.
For the first time ever in my cycling I felt scared to go out in the dark on two wheels.
Scared because it was so dark; and scared because I would be alone (insert internal freak-out).
A new normal beckoned before I let the anger and loneliness set in and afternoons have become my new thing.
Pre-COVID-19, I had always seen afternoons as a more dangerous time to ride due to the increase in traffic but now, thanks to restrictions, I feel safer.
And being on my own is not so bad.
Group riding has always been a morning thing anyway and, wow, you really notice a lot more in the daylight – like how many more people seem to be riding bikes.
With gyms closing, people working from home – or, sadly, stood down – there has been a cycling revolution in Bendigo.
Whilst shops were closing all around Bendigo, those of us in the cycling industry have welcomed a whole new customer base.
Bikes are being dragged out of sheds and into the shops for a spruce up.
Kids are now getting their first bikes instead of first iPads.
Whole families are hitting the bike paths, bush tracks and roads to get their 30 minutes of exercise on two wheels.
Now I’m luckier than most, I won’t dispute that when it comes to bike choice:
Afternoon rides have become a mixed bag of road cycling, mountain biking, a little e-biking (both mountain bike and commuter) and gravel cycling.
Yes, you read that right: that’s five different bikes for five different types of cycling – but oh, the places you can go on two wheels with such options.
If there’s one silver lining in this whole COVID isolation thing it’s that for sure.
But man, I still miss my cycling girls.
‘Till we meet again.
This article first appeared in Bendigo Weekly