The Introverted Cyclist’s Guide to Coronavirus

Listen. Shit sucks right now. There’s no denying it. I have a lot of mixed emotions about what’s going on. Do I stay inside? Do I go outside but only go out alone? Do I ride my bike knowing there’s a possibility I could crash and need to go to the hospital where I may take a bed from someone else who needs it? Are we about to go into a depression? How bad will it be? Is my job safe? When will I be able to race again? Will they cancel Leadville 100? Will Toast run out of business? Am I supposed to just take time and rest or am I supposed to take this extra downtime and be super productive? When can I go to the grocery store? Should I be saving money right now or should I continue to act like we are not about to go into a recession? 

There are so many unknowns right now. And we’re all just trying to do our best. Well, most of us.

I’m already an introvert and my anti-social life has now taken on a new term, “social distancing.” I’m not one for big, crowded events anyway. I am losing out on group rides, going to the gym, and bike races.

While I call this a guide, it’s really just my daily life. But I want to make a note: Heed the advice of CDC and WHO. Politicians and the media can spin this upside down and sideways.

Ride your bike but only ride with the people in your household.

“Flattening the curve” only works if we ALL abide by it. So this means not sending a group text to everyone to go out on a bike ride. Sure, sometimes riding alone sucks. I like riding with people when I go outside.

But if you’re going to venture outside, go solo or only with the people in your house and stay local. This prevents the spread of the virus. Keep it in the family. Bring all the supplies you need with you. Don’t stop into small towns’ convenient stores as they’re already limited on their supplies. 

Also be mindful of the fact that if you crash or get hit by a car, you’re going to end up in the hospital. Obviously, we all need those services if we hurt ourselves but the whole point of this necessary freak out is to not stress the health care system. We already know it sucks. It’s going to suck a whole lot more if there aren’t enough beds for people.

But you know what’s awesome? Zwift.

You can do workouts, meet up with Zwift friends, or compete in a Zwift race. Pop on to their app and you’ll see an event every 20 or so minutes.

So, say your race this weekend was canceled. Fuck it. Go take that fitness online and race against people from all over the world. You won’t get the real-life experience of bumping elbows in a Crit or the reprieve of downhill but you still get to use that fitness in a productive and fun way.

At-Home Fitness

There are some days when I don’t want to deal with the people in the gym. There are other days, like now, where I have no choice but to work out at home.

Sure, I’m going to lose the strength I gained at the squat rack but in the grand scheme of things and like Bill Murray once said, “It just doesn’t matter.”

A lot of companies right now are offering free access to workouts like Peloton (now who wishes their SO bought them one at Christmas?). I found a list by NBC News, CBS News lists fitness studios going live, and here are some apps providing free services. I also really enjoy Yoga with Adriene. She has a wide variety of free videos on her YouTube channel.

If there’s enough of a demand, I can make something and provide it. Let me know.

The best bodyweight exercises (where you’ll get more bang for your buck) are pull-up, squat, push-up, and plank. These are the core four exercises that will get you moving and will guarantee a good workout. The only equipment you need is a pull-up bar which doesn’t cost too much – as long as they’re not completely sold out.

When you get bored with those, start adding variations. Here’s a long bodyweight workout list that’ll keep you moving for the next 30 days. Just be sure to give the muscles worked 24-48 hours rest before working them again.

Take this time to work on what you neglect

Core

I know a lot of cyclists who don’t do core work. And it’s absolutely key to strong bike performance. Start doing core work every day. As I mentioned above, planks are great bodyweight exercises. There are a ton of variations of the plank too if you get bored. In addition to the plank, you can continue to make your core exercises harder through this time and come out with a sturdy core.

Stretching/foam rolling

Again, I know plenty of people who are athletes that skip stretching and foam rolling. Overactive muscles will wreak havoc on the rest of your body. Your performance suffers when you have overactive and underactive muscles. Part of resolving an overactive muscle is stretching and foam rolling. 

Balance

Now’s a great time to work on balance as well, which really ends up helping your core too. Single leg exercises are great to promote balance work. I really like single-leg squats but there a ton of things you can do.

Read books (or magazines) about your sport

Want to learn how to improve on the bike, run, swim, etc.? Start reading about it. I’ve learned a lot about cycling just by reading books published by experts. Then I put what they say into practice and tweak it to my liking. Here are some books that I recommend:

The Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel

Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

The Time-Crunched Cyclist by Chris Carmichael

ROAR: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life by Stacy Sims

Becoming a Supple Leopard 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance by Kelly Starrett

Take notes. Put into place what you learn. Repeat.

I also love to read news about the sport. I write for (and read) 303Endurance. I also regularly read (wrote an article for them) Bicycling Magazine. I also really enjoy Voxwomen because their whole focus is on women’s cycling. I’ll pop on to VeloNews when they decide to cover women’s cycling. 

Crosstrain with only the people in your household

Or even try something new. We don’t have to look at this situation as the end of our season that never started. We can try something new. Have you ever ran on a trail? Give it a try.

Right now, the trails are more packed than normal so take some caution when venturing out on the trail. Announce your passing, give people space, and don’t spit or blow snot rockets all over the place.

Are you a runner? Give cycling a try. Swimmer? Give running or cycling a try. 

Watch videos of your sport

Red Bull TV has some wicked cool videos you can watch online.

Because I’m [hoping] racing Leadville 100, I watched Race Across the Sky 2 on Amazon. I skipped the first one because I saw they interviewed Rebecca Rusch and I’d rather hear from her than Lance. Here’s a list by Rotten Tomatoes of the best 130 sports movies. No, I haven’t checked if these are all on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney, or HBO.

Another great (and free) option is YouTube. There are some accounts with full-length videos of our sports. For example, GCN has proven to give a shit about women’s cycling and has provided live coverage for events earlier in the year. They also regularly post helpful content to learn anything and everything you can about bikes.

We’re all going to be okay

One more reminder, in case you haven’t read it enough: we’re going to be okay.

Right now is super weird. People don’t know what to do or how to do it safely. Just remember that it’s less about you and more about everyone. Act out of kindness, generosity, and mindfulness. Think of others before yourself. This is not about survival of the fittest, it’s about taking care of those who need it most.

If you are able-bodied, have money, have a roof over your head, access to water (and toilet paper ffs), electricity, and your health, you’re already doing really well. If you’re able to read this, you’re probably doing pretty good.

See how you can help people from afar. Can you order take away from your local restaurants? Can you introduce someone who lost their job to an employer who needs extra help?

Can you stay the fuck home so you’re not passing on this virus to more people? 

What'd you think?