Lockdown Week 4, 17th April 2020

Another week ticked off and most of us seem to have relaxed into the restrictions placed on us and, dare I say it, even started to take advantage of some of the upsides. There’s only so much time you can spend on the turbo and there’s no footie on, so a sunny 4-day weekend over Easter meant I re-discovered reading.

For some people, though, there is very little let-up. People who we rely on to get us through this thing and who put themselves on the line on a daily basis. It’s probably wrong to single out those who work in the NHS, because there are many others who contribute, but the NHS is the front line. It is to these people we owe the largest debt. I did hesitate before inviting our next contributor, and she had a bit of a wobble – because it might have been grim.

I needn’t have worried though, because, like everyone I have heard from in this profession, Tash is so ridiculously modest and matter-of-fact about what we are asking her and 1000s like her to do for us, and it’s fascinating. She’s as hard as nails and one of my favourite people in the whole world. Also, she’s now absolutely flying as the new queen of the Penge CC Zwift race team. Go Tash!

The Flying Doctor – Tash

When James asked me if I would like to contribute to the weekly newsletter, I immediately said yes… followed very quickly by a cautious… it might just be grim reading. However, another part of me then thought perhaps it’s helpful to hear, especially for all those isolating at home. I suspect it’s hard to imagine what it’s like on the front line, yet many Penge CC members are doing this every day. Anyway, I have written a few words, on the agreement the chairman would approve before posting. So I’m blaming James if this all goes wrong.

Some of you may know I work at King’s… and, truth be told, things are pretty grim at the moment. Staffing is short and the wards are busy. However… I am also seeing some incredible things, things I’ve not seen in many years of working in the NHS. I arrive at work and, following handover, head to the wards to see the patients assigned to me… it’s a bonus that I now get to wear scrubs (I always hated having to think about what clothes needed washing and ironing on a Sunday afternoon). I walk down the corridor and am greeted by others as we pass… the porter, the liver consultant, the healthcare assistant, and the person who works behind the counter in M&S. Usually, everyone is head-down, looking at their mobile phone. It sounds cringey, but I don’t think I can remember a time where, as a work force, we have felt so together.

I arrive on the ward and there is the usual stress of changing into clean scrubs and putting on protective equipment. There has been much anxiety in the press around PPE and I know that there remain inadequacies in many areas, including those outside of healthcare. Thankfully, King’s has mostly been well stocked so far. I then find the nurses and doctors on the wards and ask them about the patients I am down to see. Having a conversation with another healthcare professional, when you are both wearing masks and visors is challenging but we get by after repeating ourselves several times.

Sadly, King’s has a large number of staff members off sick but the number of healthcare professionals who have volunteered to come and work on these wards amazes me. The doctor who usually specialises in skin, now working on a general medical ward, or the nurse who usually works in outpatients, offering to help provide one-to-one care… everyone is doing their bit.

The hardest thing I’ve seen over recent weeks is the impact of visiting restrictions and I spend a lot of my time on the phone to relatives. This has forced us to think of new ways to help people communicate during the covid crisis, and I have proudly facilitated several Facetime conversations between patients and their loved ones (many of these approaching the end of life). I know a local group in Catford is collecting devices to help facilitate conversations over the coming weeks.

So for me, while there are challenges and people are afraid, I have seen so many things over the past few weeks that have made me stop with admiration. Every day, on my ride to work, I think of those who perhaps aren’t acknowledged as much as they should be – the bus drivers, the worker in Tesco’s stacking the shelves, the delivery person going door-to-door. I think it’s important we stand together at the moment and provide support to each other where and how we can.

But let’s return to a lighter subject… cycling. For many, the cycling calendar of 2020 has not gone to plan. For me Randonneur “Round the Year” is on hold, Gent–Wevelgem and Paris–Roubaix have both been cancelled, and this might just be the start. I continue to cycle to and from work, which I think is a privilege, and while I won’t go on longer rides for fear of overwhelming the NHS, if you are sensible, there is no reason you can’t get out on your bike. Last weekend I joined several Penge CC members in a relay audax which was surprisingly good fun, and this week I intend to join the ever expanding Penge CC team on Zwift!

I agree with Kate’s message of keeping calm and drinking wine, it certainly helps me after a long day at work. So keep calm, drink wine, and I hope to see you out on a ride at some stage in 2020!


Indoor Training – Zwift

This has really taken off now, with a regular Thursday night ‘no-drop’ ride and a racing team that’s going from strength to strength.

For the Thursday night ride, you can opt to complete a formal workout based on your FTP, whilst mingling with pals.

  • 7:30pm Thursday on Zwift

Racing sounds like it seriously gets the heart, legs and lungs going. Check out the team’s climb up the rankings on the Facebook posts.

Get in touch with John Haile or Emma Dunk if you want to join in.

I still love the fact you can just plough into people and come to no harm. We’ll have to remember not to do that when we’re back on the road.

Indoor Training – Turbobeat Live

Paul Mill now runs 3 sessions per week of Turbobeat Live. These are free of charge:

  • 5pm Tuesday
  • 6pm Wednesday
  • 5pm Thursday
  • Sessions are on Selfloops and use Zoom for communication

Get hold of a bluetooth heartrate monitor if you can, download the Selfloops App and get onto Zoom for the full (and unique) experience of being beasted by Paul, with a group of pals whilst listening to loud music.

Please join him in raising funds for Shelter. There’s a group who are really going to need help in the coming weeks.

There is now a full set of instructions to help you get set up for Turbobeat live.

Bike Servicing at SE20 Cycles

Remember if you want Winnie to service your bike, go to his site and find the online booking system. He is super busy at the moment but keep the work coming.

Closing Thoughts

I’m still looking for some guest contributors – let me know if you fancy it.

Have a great weekend – and stay healthy!

James Hanscomb, Chair of Penge CC.