First off, I’m mindful of what I’m about to write. I’m going to write about the riding I’ve been doing while we’ve all been supposedly confined to barracks for up to 23 hours a day.
I am very much aware of my privileged status in being able to ride – when work commitments allow – perfect trails in glorious weather, while many are either working their socks off, putting themselves selflessly at risk or stuck ten floors up in a London flat with primary-age children.
I have to admit I’ve stretched the envelope a little – largely because, I’m riding alone; I can ride to the trails within a mile of my home (or hit the empty roads); and I’m definitely NOT stretching my riding into all-day epic territory.
On top of all that, the countryside – now closed to visitors – is essentially empty bar a few locals.
Not all good
As with many things, it’s not all biscuits and gravy.
Three weeks ago I thought how lucky I was my employer was able to trade at close to normal; two weeks ago how effectively we had all switched to work from home; then 10 days ago I had to take two days off work with immense fatigue and a very dry throat (injury aside, unheard of for over ten years) – was that coronavirus?
At the same time, my employer has decided now is the time to fundamentally restructure the department I’m in. The outcome of a work project I had no involvement with means… we are all having our positions reviewed. This couldn’t have fallen at a worse point.
I consider myself a very good web developer and an excellent employee, but no-one is immune and for the next few weeks stress and uncertainty reigns.
Thankfully I’ve recovered my health and my work continues for now, but around that I plan to ride as often as time allows within the broad advice for regular excercise. I say enjoy things when you can.
My rides consist of a mix of gravel biking (I’m trying to shake up the on/off-road mix a little), and the MTB of course.
A couple of local rides on the Jeffsy have been hugely enjoyable because not only has the sun come out but the trails have turned dusty almost overnight. At the same time, the vegetation hasn’t really got going so you can ride unhindered.
One recent ride was a classic winch and plummet hour and a half over Ranmore and Mickleham. So many possibilities presented themselves I had to leave them for another day as I needed to get back for a meeting. Even so I managed View to a Kill, Rumble in the Jungle, Red, White and Rose, Life on Mars, Lloyd’s Left Leg and Sean’s Helmet. That lot certainly stretched the lungs for sure.
On the gravel side I have a new loop out to Wisley/Pyford Lock which mixes woodland and tarmac in equal measure. It’s lovely, you work as hard or as little as you like but it’s a great mental reset. Good health comes in different forms.
More gravel adventures – yesterday, I rode the gravel bike to Dorking off-road via Bockett’s, up to the Sawmill and then down Crabtree Lane to pop out at Westhumble, then after looping Dorking town centre I came back via Little Switzerland.
Today, I took the bike up the Coldharbour Climb to Leith Hill, then after dropping down to the A25 I came back off-road via the Colekitchen climb to the North Downs Way, then down to the lumber yard and back on the road to Effingham. Turns out you can do a lot on 38c tyres and 40psi!
Tomorrow, who knows? Maybe the Jeffsy again. Either way I’m spoilt for choice.
Things are still mad
Despite all the above, this is a stressful, mad time.
The PM is in intensive care. The economy has hit a wall with unknown consequences. I may be out of work. None of us know if we have had the virus, will get the virus or survive the virus.
I hope these momentous times can be the start of a much-needed reassessment of our world. It turns out, communities are important (even communities of MTBers!). People are important. Friendships are important.
Take the cycling opportunities you get given but remember our privilege. Ride safe, be responsible.
You all have my best wishes and fervent hopes that we and our loved ones stay safe and well. I look forward to riding with you all again soon!