Mixed Bag

Nothing specific to talk about so I thought I’d share a few general thoughts on lockdown, working from home and riding my bike.

Lockdown & Working from Home
Well I’m a seasoned pro when it comes staying in now. The last week of my holiday was a lockdown before any of this started in the UK. We managed to get home via a crowded airport and a plane that was nearly full (No social distancing measures in place whatsoever). We voluntarily self-isolated because of the risk and partly due to panic-buying stories we were hearing and advice off friends, we managed to get an online shop done while away so it would be delivered the day after we got back. So far so good. Fast forward three weeks and we have the highest daily death toll surpassing even Italy and Spain now. We were looking at them and probably thinking it wasn’t going to be that bad or that the measures they took were far more draconian than we needed. Who knew and I’m still not scared but I’d say that the f*****g idiots that were and are continuing to flout the rules because they don’t think they apply to them are front and centre a contributing factor no doubt. No one wants anyone to contract it, no one wants to hear about COVID deaths and I don’t want our freedoms’ curbed anymore but I fear if it gets worse, freedoms like being able to exercise outdoors will be banned too. That will be a real problem for me and my mental health #firstworldproblems. A week off the bike in Fuerteventura was ok. I still had good weather and beer available in our hotel. I was still in a type of holiday mode but the thought of rolling out of bed, riding my bike indoors and then going to work in the same room fills me with dread to be honest. I tried more indoor riding when lockdown started and it didn’t work. My mojo ebbed away very quickly. My need for headspace outdoors is hard to describe. Fresh air, solitude, freedom, its like a drug that you have to take to reset your mind, rid you of your anxiety and stress so you are in the best place possible to tackle a day of solitary confinement in a room working on your own. Without that, I’m on a countdown to trouble. Having said that though, having ridden outdoors for the last couple of weeks, on the whole, its got quieter, people are heeding advice but yesterday, Good Friday, a bank holiday, when it should have arguably been even quieter it was busier. Why? Those f*****g idiots again I guess.

I’ve become so annoyed with people I’m almost at the point of challenging them and asking them what they are doing

Working from home has been reasonably straight forward and I’ve had some good news this week too. I was advised my job was at risk of redundancy while on holiday and I’ve had that cloud hanging over me since but this week I found out my job and my team are safe which is the best possible outcome. I’m lucky that my ‘man cave’ is setup like a study (desk, office chair, 42″ screen) plus my bike for indoor training. As most of our work is in the ‘cloud’ I can just log in and work. Record breaking online sales have brought about considerable logistical difficulties in getting orders out to customers and it has enhanced customer contact with a surge I can only describe as a tsunami. Turbo trainers have sold out, bike sales up 200% and in some days we’ve had a week’s worth of contact in a day. Amazing on one hand, really hard to cope with on the other. I, my team and the department have been smashed literally day after day which does make the days and weeks go quickly. Its stressful though hence the need, as I said, to get out on my bike to press my reset button every day.

One of the greatest things to come out of lockdown is the sense of community. The #InItTogether mentality we have clapping for NHS workers on Thursday nights, for example, is a really, really satisfying thing to see and be a part of and deserved of course.

My final thoughts on lockdown are that it will probably continue. I’m thinking I will be at home for a minimum of 6 weeks, probably another month maybe more. In respect of enforcing rules. In my opinion I’d bring the army out and setup soft checkpoints as we had on holiday. It works. Its a real visual deterrent but there to enforce the rules if idiots still want to be idiots. It would also compliment the police who can continue dealing with inevitable crime. Socially-distanced, outdoor exercise (very easy to do) should be actively encouraged by the Government even if the pandemic gets worse. It would be short-sighted to deal with that any other way. Wellbeing (physical & mental health) is the big elephant in the room. It cannot be ignored.

Riding my bike
Riding has been so good recently. Just riding on quieter roads, better air quality and seeing so many people out walking, running and cycling is giving us all a taste of how it could and should be. It has highlighted how many of those short car journeys are unnecessary and why active travel should be prioritised. I really hope it kickstarts a permanent change in people’s attitude to exercise and they continue with it. It also been nice to have less cars pass me and do so properly too not putting me at risk as is so common on a ‘normal commute.

I met an old friend out walking on my ride yesterday. Totally random. Haven’t seen him for years. Used to drink heavily, 3-4  pints a night, 20 at the weekend. He was furloughed 2 weeks ago and has been walking 9 miles a day, every day since and its clicked for him. He’s vowed never to go back and good on him. He’s shown himself what he was and how much money he can save. We had a good chat.

I’ve kept my gravel tyres on since my holiday. The bike has had a full service and now features a GRX 600 46/30 chainset which has been a revelation for the offroad stuff. The 30/32 gear is REALLY low for me but helps massively on super steep stuff. Its hard going on the road (38c tyres) so I’ve been mixing it up offroad over the Lickey Hills and I’ve particularly enjoyed the local canal towpaths too. I live near the Tardebigge Flight which is the longest flight of locks in the UK. Thirty locks in about 3.5km. I don’t do them all but working your way up them is a bit of an interval session and great fun when its quiet. I have a 20km loop which I vary slightly each day and takes takes about 45-50mins before work. Its a perfect hit to set me up for the day.

With the death toll growing, I hope we’re at the top of that curve and we start to see the effects of lockdown soon and we see a light at the end of the tunnel because I fear if it goes on and on, people will get lockdown fatigue and we could see a bit of society breakdown…but I hope not.

Stay safe (and apart) people.

2 thoughts on “Mixed Bag

  1. Lockdown in Ireland was initially supposed to finish tomorrow but has now been extended for another 3 weeks. I don’t really think it will be lifted then either. It is having an impact though. We went from 30% increase in cases per day to 15% and now to 9% (expected to rise as test results will be coming through more quickly for the next week) but the most significant is that every positive result was infecting 4 people before restrictions and now is approximately 1. The ideal is <1 so we're getting there. We also have the idiots but in general people are behaving themselves.


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