5 tips for cycling during UK Covid-19 lockdown
Keen teenage cyclist Harry McGarvie has told me his motivational tips for cycling during Covid-19 lockdown in the UK.
Harry, 18, lives in Ayrshire and rides for Ayr Burners Cycling and QTS Group. He is especially competitive on the cyclocross circuit and last year he won the Scottish Cyclocross Series. Earlier this year, he also triumphed in the Super Quaich Cyclocross Series.
Harry has just left school and hopes to go to university once lockdown is over.
He says: “As a competitive cyclist racing across several disciplines, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned my life – and season – upside down. All races have been cancelled and all of my goals for the next few months are now on hold.
“Thankfully, the UK government is still allowing everyone outside for daily exercise – and I’ve learned a few ways to keep myself motivated during the lockdown.”
Harry’s 5 tips for cycling in lockdown
1. Indoor Training
Although we’re still allowed outside to exercise during lockdown, I’ve also found indoor training really helpful in getting me through this period. It means I can train very specifically without having to worry about traffic, weather or changing terrain, so I can get a very intense and focused session done in a short period of time. This is ideal if you are still working at home or are short for time.
It’s really simple to get into indoor training as all you need is some kind of turbo trainer or rollers (which can be bought from as little as £50 on eBay) to attach your bike to. Applications such as Zwift and the Sufferfest are also brilliant because they allow you to follow specific training plans without the boredom indoor training is well renowned for.
2. Zwift Racing
Zwift is an online cycling platform which allows you to cycle in virtual races alongside other people. The game features many iconic locations including London’s Box Hill and New York’s Central Park. I’ve been using Zwift to train for several months to get in high quality training sessions without getting bored.
On any evening now I can cycle the legendary Alpe d’Huez climb in France, in real time, with thousands of other cyclists, with the road on my computer screen in front of me.
Alongside being a useful training tool, Zwift allows you to race in real-time against other cyclists over its various courses. This feature is particularly helpful during lockdown as it has given me a specific focus in spite of all my races being cancelled and so it keeps me motivated.
The races are also very short – usually around 20 to 30 minutes – giving a really good quality training session while having great fun.
Zwift costs £13 a month and all you need to get started is a turbo trainer or rollers and speed sensor.
3. Tips for Indoor Training
Turbo training can be great fun if done properly so here’s a few key tips that will ease the pain of isolation.
- Get a good quality fan to keep you cool when riding indoors. It’s really easy to overheat due to the lack of wind-flow, so this will keep you much more comfortable.
- Use a towel and trainer mat. No matter what you do, you’re going to sweat when riding indoors, so a towel is crucial to clean yourself up mid-ride. It also helps to keep some sort of mat (either a yoga mat or a dedicated turbo trainer one) underneath your bike to prevent any sweat damaging your floors and it stops any loud vibrations from your trainer.
- Nutrition. Even though you’re indoors it’s important to keep well hydrated in the same way as outdoor rides. Also remember to have any food you might need close to hand if you plan on riding anything over an hour.
- Keep yourself entertained. It’s crucial to do something to prevent yourself getting bored while riding inside. You could watch a film/YouTube videos, listen to music or use a dedicated app such as Zwift.
4. Outdoor Riding
Although indoor training can be useful, nothing can beat cycling outside. We are still allowed to exercise outdoors in the UK (for now), although this can only be done by yourself or with someone that you live with. Motivate yourself and make the most of your time riding by setting goals, such as riding a certain mileage or setting a new PB up a hill.
Strava is a simple way of tracking this. With the app you can participate in challenges to motivate yourself to get out riding or go for the KOM/QOM on a segment. This will help you get outside and stay fit during the lockdown. I’ve never seen Strava so busy as it has been in the past couple of weeks during lockdown!
For people who haven’t been on their bike for ages, the lockdown is the perfect opportunity to get out again. Bike shops are one of the few places still open and we should be supporting them.
The roads are also the quietest they have ever been – or may be again – which makes them safer, but you won’t be alone because there are cyclists everywhere taking advantage of this unique opportunity.
Editor note: It is important to apply commonsense to your rides. Take utmost care when cycling and do not end up putting pressure on emergency services due to cycling. Conservative distances and routes are a good idea. Make sure you are not so far from home and unable to return due to a mechanical or accident.
Thanks to Harry for these great tips. You can read more on his blog, The Holeshot Blog.
PS Note from editor: I had to look up “holeshot”. Apparently it means this: “The holeshot is a motorsport terminology to describe a rider who has the strongest start to get up to racing speed.”