Cyclocross in the time of COVID-19

Cyclocross in the time of COVID-19

I miss racing. Racing myself, of course, but also watching pros. The entire 2020 bicycle racing season is in doubt, with both professional and amateur events being cancelled left and right. 

Fear of Coronavirus has caused the postponement of the Spring Classics, the Tour de France, and it hits locally as well - one of my favorite "gravel grinders", the Redlands Strada Rossa, also fell victim. 

Yet at the same time organized events are being cancelled, there is still a huge pent-up demand for unstructured outdoor activity. I'm never seen so many families riding our local bike paths and trails, and I sure hope they stick with those habits in the future. 

Here are a few thoughts on coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, life changes I and others are making, and also a few unexpected benefits also. 

Communities re-focusing on cycling

With so many fewer cars and trucks on the road, communities are re-allocating resources to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Can some of these changes become permanent?

Alternative methods of staying fit during the pandemic

Since I no longer have access to the gym, I'm exploring some new ways to stay fit (beyond riding, of course.) One weakness I've discovered is that my core strength is really lacking! I'm using the Peloton app to attempt to address that and boy is it challenging. 

Great time to catch up on deferred maintenance

When the sun is shining, cyclists want to ride. If you can't, now is a great time to catch on maintenance of your bikes instead. Cyclocross really taxes your equipment. If you didn't do the full tear down and rebuild at the conclusion of the 2019/20 season, now is a great time to catch up. 

A change in spending habits

I'm not the only person rethinking how my spending habits affect the community I live in. One thing I’m committed to: giving event promoters money as soon as possible. The people who organize cyclocross races or gravel riding events in your community are not wealthy, they're involved because they care about growing the sport. 

When I'm able, I'm also going to do a better job of seeking out independent, local vendors as an alternative to chain restaurants and stores. 

An increased focus on health and personal well-being

Right now millions of Americans are working from home for the first time, saving hours per day since they no longer have to commute. When riding bikes, these impacts on the traffic patterns are obvious — there is far less noise, and the air is amazingly clean and clear. How will habits change when workers can return to the office? Will they continue to commute, or look elsewhere so they can keep their new work-from-home habits? 

Personally, I've lost a few pounds, which I attribute to more meals eaten at home and a diet that includes more veggies and lean protein, along with less junk. 

Cyclists still want to ride

You can't find an indoor trainer or dumbbells in stock to save your life right now. Fitness-oriented people still want to keep those habits, and new people are discovering them as well. 

Unexpected positives?

All the animal shelters are empty.

Pent up demand for everything local 

Small, independent businesses like restaurants, minor league baseball teams, etc. are really going to benefit from a return to normalcy - IF they can survive long enough for that to happen. Which is why... 

Small businesses need your support

Amazon, Walmart and other huge players are going to be fine. They have access to financing, cash reserves, and flexibility to react to change. Many small businesses don’t. Independently owned and operated businesses really need your help right now. Whether it’s specialty retail, like your favorite local bike shops, my personal passion RideCX, small restaurants, or tradespeople like plumbers, carpenters, and painters; it’s more important than ever to think about where you spend your money. 

Cycling is very important to us. Ideally the COVID-19 pandemic will pass, or at least be manageable, in time for us to have a normal cyclcross season this fall and winter. 

But that's not as important as the health of you or your family, or the job loss affecting our communities right now.

Thank you for reading, stay happy and healthy, and I hope to see you at the cyclocross races soon. 

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