Lockdown Week 7, 8th May 2020

If you have kids, you’ll have been on a long car journey when one of them asks, ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ and your heart sinks because you still have miles to go. You may even remember being that kid.

It’s so tempting now to look out of the window from our semi-enforced isolation and dream of the end of lockdown and of getting back out to do some proper cycling. I don’t mean a furtive, guilt-ridden spin around the block. I mean a proper 5 hour hill-fest with cafe stops and puntures, posed photos and chats. Remember those?

Let’s see what the mop-headed blonde has to say on Sunday, but my guess is that even with a bit of a relaxation of the rules, we have a way to go yet before those happy days return. I do hope I’m wrong, because it’s not getting easier and that job I’m keen to hang onto? Well I dodged the first wave of redundancies last week. Even for those of us expecting little sympathy, this is getting grim. Not all of it though. If Paul is the right boot of the club, surely Lesley is the gentle hand on the back of encouragement. Not everything that’s come out of this crisis is bad.

Overwhelmingly Generous – Lesley

Weeks ago, when James first requested contributors, I said that I would probably be able to write something about what charities are doing during Coronavirus, and how the general public have shown their kindness and generosity.

I think I made that suggestion seven weeks ago. Before the country had raised £92m to support NHS charities to provide additional support for patients and NHS workers. I suggested it before a 99 year-old man decided to raise some money and 1.5m people sponsored him. Before the National Emergencies Trust raised tens of millions of pounds for local organisations who are already making good use of it in their communities. Before Aviva donated £10m to the British Red Cross to a hardship fund and countless other companies and individuals stepped up to support their work.

I suggested it before £40m was raised during the Big Night In, before self-organised Mutual Aid groups cropped up in every community. Before domestic abuse charities and their supporters helped to influence the government to provide additional support for people whose homes are far from the safe space we all need right now.

I suggested it before Paul Mill from Elitecycling raised over £3000 (and counting) for Shelter by providing free TurboBeat sessions online. Before our friends at Wheels for Wellbeing, unable to run their own sessions safely, volunteered their time and their two-wheels to help deliver food and medication to people who are vulnerable. Before Geraint Thomas cycled three 12-hour shifts on Zwift to raise money and donated his own wedding venue to a key worker couple getting married in 2021. I suggested it before I knew how our favourite cyclist-run microbrewery, Canopy Beer, donated cases of beer to staff at King’s Hospital and would then go on to offer customers the chance to buy an NHS key worker a beer with every order.  I thought I might have a few things to talk about and celebrate. I had absolutely no idea just how many.

Someone wise once said to me, many moons ago, that it is the job of charities, and fundraisers like me, to connect the people in the world who are in need of some help, with the people who want to give help. And that has never more true than it is now. Charities are having to step up, to fill the gaps left by public services that are stretched or not available. To try and rebalance the inequalities in our society that become more extreme as this crisis goes on. And now, more than ever, the power of kindness and the generosity of people is coming to the fore.

Even though this is a crisis that impacts us all, people still unfailingly want to help others. It is quite remarkable to see. James spoke last week in his email about how it is easy to feel useless. But whatever you are doing to keep you and your family and your neighbours safe makes a difference. The simplest of kind acts towards others make a difference. Every donation to a charity, no matter how small, makes a difference.

My one plea would be, if you are able to, please keep supporting your favourite charities. Whether they are directly responding to this crisis or not. We’re going to need them. The animal charities, the hospices, the theatres and youth arts groups, the disability charities and of course the cycling charities. And if you’d like to donate to a charity that is responding to the crisis right now, and you’re not sure who, then I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t suggest the British Red Cross!

Keep being awesome! And hopefully see you on the road soon.


Indoor Cycling

Some of us may even emerge from isolation a bit fitter. It will be interesting to see if a diet of high-intensity of interval sessions on the turbo, or racing on Zwift, mixed with plenty of sitting around eating snacks and drinking too much booze will prove a more effective spring training routine than our traditional mix of Sunday rides and commutes.

Whatever the end result, these sessions continue to be brilliant.

Join the fun by following our instructions for the Turbobeat sessions and virtual races on Zwift.

Turbobeat Live

Having perfected the technology with 3 free sessions a week in April and May, Paul is now launching a range of paid-for classes of varying intensity and at various times of the day, starting in June. I can’t recommend these sessions highly enough. Paul’s Facebook posts have details of these. He’ll continue the great work fundraising for Shelter.

Zwift Racing

This has been an absolute revelation, with John Haile and Emma Dunk luring a massive number of Penge riders into the BCSE regional championships – where Penge CC is currently lying in 4th place with (I think!) one race to go.

Spain Training Camp – 2021

It’s a bit early, but Easyjet have opened ticket sales for February next year and there are some bargains to be had. The flights to book are:

  • Out: Sat 6th Feb – 07:25 Gatwick – Alicante
  • Return: Sat 13th Feb – 11:35 Alicante – Gatwick

Paul @ EliteCycling will be taking bookings for the camp for £650. You know you deserve a treat. We’ll update the website with 2021 details but it will be similar in format to 2020 Training Camp in Albir.

Closing Thoughts

Have a great long weekend and watch some of the footage of the end of WW2. Imagine living through that and imagine the celebrations when it was over.

James Hanscomb, Chair of Penge CC.

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