Lockdown Week 1, Friday 27th March 2020

Already, just a week into lockdown, we’re finding ways to adjust to these extraordinary circumstances. The revelation has been quite how well equipped we have become to be online – whether that’s to keep working, to order vital supplies or to exercise. Yes, we’re all going Zwift-crazy!

For me, though, the best thing we did was to have a family ‘Teams’ call. Once my aging parents had been coaxed into getting it to work, we got my brother, sister and all of our offspring on the call, including my youngest who is locked down in Madrid. There will be some lasting effects from this terrible situation and some of them will be good.

This weekend was supposed to be Gent Wevelgem. If you were in Flanders last year or Liege the year before, you’ll know how amazing these trips are thanks, in no small measure, to the genius of David Watts. I knew you’d be missing his energy, humour and enthusiasm for our great sport, so I asked him to be a guest contributor to this week’s email.

It was the cat’s fault – David Watts

Within half an hour of starting to work from home, a completely new experience for me, I’d spilt a glass of water on my newly issued laptop. The hairdryer, on the warm setting, did the trick. Almost. Everything except for the letter ‘N’. The ‘N’ wasn’t going to beat me though, and with determination and imagination I managed to reply to and write fifty odd emails none of which contained the letter ‘N’ (‘Ta for all your hard work’).

It wasn’t easy and when I really couldn’t get away with writing coroavirus any longer I knew that I had no option but to ring Jim on our IT helpdesk and come clean. Well almost … I blamed the cat for spilling the water. I can’t stand coming clean. I avoid it at all costs. But during the last few days I’ve had no choice but to be honest, to be upfront and to come clean. Mainly with myself. I’ve had to accept that for the next two or three months my usually perfect life (and it really is perfect – I’ve got absolutely nothing to complain about) won’t be so perfect. No mincing around art galleries, no eating out, no spending money (Paul Smith, Sigma Sport and Liberty are going to take a big hit) and no knocking about with my mates on a Sunday morning. Even worse, no trip to Belgium.

It’ll be fine though and the beauty of social media is that this week it’s reinforced to me the fact that we’ve all got so much more in common than I previously realised and that we’ll get things back on track. It’s the positive messages that come out of Facebook, the funny tweets and the daft messages from friends (Dominic Bergin, your jokes are the worst). But most of all it’s been the communications that I’ve received from overseas that have made me realise that we’re closer than I ever thought we were and that if we all work together then we’ll beat this and come out of it better than ever. And those Flanders climbs – they’ll still be there next year.

And here’s to Jim, my laidback IT helpdesk saviour, who didn’t criticise me, who laughed when I told him it was the cat, who got me a replacement laptop sorted out for me THAT DAY and got me back to work! ‘ThaNks for all your hard work Jim’. What else have I learnt this week? I’ve learnt that when you’re working from home you can blame a cat for absolutely everything even if, like me, you haven’t actually got a cat (‘Sorry I was late joining the call, the cat brought in a bird. It was still alive!’). You can even give your non-existent cat a stupid name (‘Hey Jim, it was Eric Catona’s fault’).

So here’s to getting back on our bikes on a Sunday and here’s to getting over to Flanders next spring. Because we will. And if anyone’s up for buying a fancy new turbo trainer to get you through the next few weeks, well you can just tell your other half that it wasn’t you but it was the cat that pressed the ‘buy it now’ button.


Can we ride at all?

On to the thorny issue of whether to ride or not. Yes, we’re allowed out for one form of exercise a day – and we do need to exercise, but the consensus seems to be that a 5-hour blast around he Downs is not really playing fair. Andy Callus is a club member who sets a good example of how it can be done. Here’s his story:

Riding under lockdown – Andy Callus

I had an urge to see London under lockdown on my one permitted daily exercise outing. I’m so glad I did. My old route to work seemed like a safe and responsible way to go. Passing West Norwood cemetery towards Dulwich, looking its chocolate-box best in the sunshine, I stopped at the lights by another cyclist with a violin case over her shoulder. We talked. “I have a friend who is super-vulnerable. She lives in an attic. I’m going to call her when I get there and then stand out in the street and sing ‘You are my sunshine’.”

On to Camberwell via Peckham, and from there to the Cutty Sark at Greenwich, I did the foot tunnel as I used to daily for years. I social distanced in the roomy lift on the south side, and then carried up the North stairs, partly for the hell of it, but also thinking I should have done the same at the other end.

On the Isle of Dogs, residents queued two metres apart at a pharmacy under the tall glass and steel of Canary Wharf.

By now I had worked something out. No need for cycle-friendly routes. Breathe the clean air deep and follow the road signs. I headed west for the City on the A13 – normally a road a cyclist should avoid like the, errrrr, plague. I had seen it quiet like this early of a Sunday morning. Never in the week. South over Tower Bridge, north again over London Bridge (bikes and buses only these days), and then back over Southwark Bridge. A thought struck me.

Turning upstream again along ‘The Cut’ to Waterloo station, I stopped under the tower block where a friend lives alone. I called him. He saw me. We waved and chatted on the phone. Home via Brixton and Brockwell Park where the daffodils battled for attention with the setting sun.

I should have sung him “You are my sunshine”. Maybe next time.


Indoor training

Look out for Emma Dunk’s posts about Zwift rides. I did my first one last night and it was brilliant.

Also look out for Paul Mill’s posts about Turbobeat Live. Paul has found a way to stream these and is running them free of charge every Tues, Wed and Thurs at 5.00pm. He’s using this to fund raise for Shelter. I love his positive approach.

Thank you for the many ideas about how we can stay social and keep Winnie busy during the lockdown; we’ll be communicating more fully on this shortly.

Bike Servicing at SE20 Cycles

Remember if you want Winnie to service your bike, go to his site and find the online booking form for servicing.

Next Week

I have a few guest contributors lined up for future weeks – do let me know if you are up for this. Next week we’ll hear from a member who is stateside. We’ll get the inside track on how the leader of the free world is using his undoubted charisma and intellect to lead his people through the crisis.

Keep well, be patient and keep turning those pedals.


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