From Vancouver to Phoenix, Ontario to DC, Italy, Spain, Israel and Asia – the corona virus has impacted all our lives in some way – here’s how it looks from where we stand.
Richard Pestes – Publisher
It’s been a long, dark, wet and cold winter here at PEZ HQ in Vancouver, so the family Spring break trip to Mexico was highly anticipated by all of us in my house. Then as the travel advisories mounted amid the virus’ accelerated spread, we reluctantly pulled the lever, and thankfully got a full credit to go when things are safer for everyone.
My biggest fear was getting stuck in a foreign land as this thing keeps going downhill. Canada has imposed a 14 day self quarantine for anyone returning from outside the country, but with PEZ HQ based in my home, my day will actually get more crowded as I’ll see more of Mrs. Pez and the kids as schools and businesses close.
So the whole family is pretty bummed and our parental words of keeping us all safe are the right thing to do, but not reducing the letdown of a cancelled trip.
My wife and girls have a pre-holiday ritual of getting their nails done, and I never miss a good band-wagon, so with trip cancelled – we collectively middle fingered the virus and kept our pedicure appointment. Keep life going.
Then I went for an hour and a half bike ride with a buddy, and finished a bottle of good tequila with a cold Mexican beer in a show of defiance.
The weather here looks sunny in the next week so hopefully some rides will help replace time at the beach.
Life goes on and I’m relieved we won’t be worrying about getting sick or stuck on foreign soil. And we’ll be washing our hands a lot more frequently…
Darrell Parks – US Photographer
Currently getting ready to do some ‘Social Distancing” with a 2 hour solo mountain bike ride…
Chuck Peña – DC Bureau
It’s hard to know where to begin. As someone who has previously written about how a contagious pathogen can spread in an unvaccinated population (in the context of bioterrorism but there are a lot of parallels to what is happening with Coronavirus aka COVID-19), I knew that what is happening now was inevitable — regardless of “rosy” proclamations (or worse, denial) by politicians.
I’m deeply saddened that my favorite Monument, Milano-SanRemo, had to be cancelled but also know it was the right thing to do. Public health and safety takes priority over everything else at this point. Fortunately, we were able to do a planned family spring break getaway to Virginia Beach this past week before life as we know it changed here in the US. There is “panic” buying of toilet paper. But, so far, you can still buy wine and beer. Priorities, y’know. My daughter’s college classes for at least the next two weeks will be remote via the web. My wife will telework for at least the next two weeks. Our dog, Cooper, will be glad they’re home with him.
Meet my new friend, Hugh Mongous, from our vacation to Virginia Beach
But we’re not living in isolation. We’ll still see friends and neighbors. We’ll still go out. In fact, we had a friend over for dinner the day after we got back from vacation. And we stopped to visit friends and went out to lunch with them on our way back from vacation.
Of course, we’ll have to adopt best practices for the current situation … for example elbow bumps instead of hugs or handshakes. And I’m not curtailing any of my riding … either solo or group rides. I went for a solo ride after we got home from vacation and unpacked. And did a small group taco ride the next day. Like beer and wine … priorities.
In other words, we’ll live our life as much as normal as the situation warrants …much like we did in the wake of 9/11. I know it can be different depending on what part of the world you live in, but hope you are able to make the best of your situation. Be safe and be smart.
As scary as it might seem, Corona virus is not an end of the world scenario. Based on the latest reporting from China, there is light the end of the tunnel (and it isn’t an oncoming train). Finally, the effects of Coronavirus may be more economic than health. So go out and support your local businesses.
Stephen Cheung, Ph.D. – Toolbox Editor
It’s amazing how a week can seem like a decade. Like most of us, the coronavirus remained a bit of a curiosity for me even up to last Tuesday afternoon, as I was busy packing for a conference in British Columbia followed by a family snowboarding holiday the next day. Then the email of conference cancellation arrived late that afternoon. Looking back, I recall thinking, “Wow, that seems a bit of an over-reaction, but whatever.”
After starting the process of cancelling flights and hotels, my wife and I went to our climbing gym to blow off steam. By Thursday morning, all North American sports had shut down, our family had decided to avoid the climbing gym for two weeks, and I was writing my university demanding that it suspend classes immediately while making contingency research plans for my lab.
Outside is cold but free!
In the midst of this tsunami of change, it was surreal to see Paris-Nice still going on. Really, what’s the point of “the show must go on” when there’s a pandemic and every day of inaction exponentially increases the risk of a health crisis? With the inevitable cancellation of the spring gravel season events, it’ll be well over a year without an official bike event/race for me given my injury May 2019. I have an epic bikepacking trip through Iceland planned for late July that will likely get axed also. [Recommended reading: Trio Fatbike 600Km Across Iceland, April 2021. – Ed.]
At least here in Ontario, the hashtag #outsideisfree still applies. Get outside and ride (solo) and enjoy/savour the introspective “me” time that cycling provides. Turn down the intensity to avoid peaking in form too soon and instead focus on building aerobic base. Also, killer workouts depress immunity, which is the last thing we need right now.
Sure, it’s perfectly fine to grieve the loss of our beloved spring classics. So go and rant a bit about how life has changed for you and your favourite races are disappearing. Do that and then (if permissible with travel restrictions) think about what you can do for your friends, family, or even complete strangers. Think about the health care worker or even your grocery stocker who has to balance potentially infectious work with now their kids being home for weeks. Go find out if you can do something for them.
Be safe and take care of yourself and others.
Alessandro Federico – PEZ-Man in Italy
The local situation is very bad. Remember always that in Italy we have a lot of old people. Over 50 or 60. Even lot of 70 and 80. This makes the difference, and I will tell you how.
We are now restricted since a week and I’m at home since Wednesday afternoon (until Wednesday morning I was working in the office, few hundred meters from home… so, come and go). As I said previously the point of view changes when someone you know in person get hit. And now we know too many. You start think when did you met them last time, if you shake the hand to them or not, if you were closer than one meter to them and this kind of things. So that you also feel bad with yourself because thinking this. But it’s also human.
Yesterday the mother of one friend died. She was already affected by some other illness but I was regularly meeting her at school bringing our boys every day. I mean, she was having for sure some time more than what she actually had because of Covid-19 complications.
Then you get phone calls by friends or colleagues, telling they get sick, by flu, they don’t know if it’s covid or not, they just have flue but now we know it can develop very fast in a pneumonia, without warning. Who’s got some temperature, is now terrified. Why? Even if young (and 40 or 50 is not young.. by the way), you may have complications. And now hospitals are full. They start to have problem to assist anyone because there’s no more space.
This is the reason why all Italian bike amateurs are not riding out these days. It isn’t clearly denied (it’s a kind of grey area) but is good common sense. If you get out with bike you can always crash and now there’s no fast assistance from hospitals and emergency. They are too busy, and you cannot add another problem with your stupid bike.
This is a kind of self control measure we, as Italian amateurs, are respecting almost 98%. The 2% are egoist. Even Davide Cassani, the Italian National Team sport director has promoted this code of behaviour. No bike ride until the finish. It’s very hard to see how the spring is beautiful over there and you cannot get out, but then there’re lot of other things to do for your bike.
Yesterday I washed it properly, chain and gear included. I want my bike perfect when I will be free again. Today I adjusted the gear register for first time in my life, following a tutorial on Youtube, and result was perfect! Then the training. I’m lucky because I’ve the garden, I did one hour today on bike trainer and was my worst hour on the bike ever. I couldn’t believe it can be so hard to ride 0 meters!
The days flow with job at work, children and some training (I bought some weights to keep my body as fit as I can): it makes also morale. Yes, there’s another thing: each day I want to learn something. Today was bike gear register, tomorrow something else (not only bike, there’re lot of things I don’t know). Because when it will finish, I want be better that when it started.
Good luck, take care.
Me on my trainer
Charles Manantan – Tech N’ Spec
First: Cue Greenday song American Idiot… Then read on:
Goal number one here is to be prepared! So of course we prepared here in the US by taking all the money that we would use to fund 60% of the CDC (firing the national Pandemic response team) and give nearly all of it to Amazon, Google, Walmart and other companies who were, at the time, posting record profits… We match losing the entire CDC Pandemic response team by choosing not to replace the Whitehouse Science team who were the other national team responsible for Epidemic/Pandemic threat assessment and response.
Goal number two: We will call this whole thing a political hoax and ignore it for a month and a half.
Goal Three: Blame it all on “Jyyna” and imply that they are responsible for stopping the spread of a virus that has already been spreading internationally…
Goal Four: We will go on National TV and while standing in front of the head of the new response team, name a second head of the response team and walk out while the two men tell the press they are in charge.
Goal Five: Despite the virus spreading and increasing into the tens of thousands and knowing the country is unprepared for testing, claim that the whole thing is overblown, people who have the virus can go to work and claim the whole thing will “go from 15 to zero very quickly” and again, walk out.
Goal 6: Address the national press and deny that we fired the CDC response team and chose not to replace the scientists directing the Whitehouse pandemic response and criticize the reporter that asked it was the right thing to do in hindsight.
Goal 7: Buy all the Toilet paper in the country, leaving shelves overstocked with the foods that we should be eating in the case we become ill.
Goal 8: Block all travel from Europe… But leave open the European country’s where the President owns failing golf courses.
Goal 9: Once the disease has spread across the entire USA, call for a national emergency and tell everyone we must “flatten the curve” a month and a half after the Curve has already started its higher trajectory.
Ah, and goal 10, if your parents or grandparents are alive, go see em and make sure they have a will that’s up-to-date AAAAAND favors you…
The Family is a little lucky in that Spring Break started this week. That schools are closing around the country and kids missing school stinks, but dead fam stinks more… We’ll try and make sure that we do all the shopping for the wife’s parents, and we’re keeping our kids away… Since some of the large corporations are locking down their corporate offices, I have meetings canceling or moving to voice, which is actually nice. It means plane flights are off and I’ll be home a bit more. It’s nerve-racking when meetings involving 10-figure$ are being shuffled, but again… better than dead.
My advice to the public? Check on your older relatives and neighbors and make sure they don’t need to go to large population / flow through places like stores etc. Go do the work for them (and keep the most exposed people like kids away…) Then hope that Cov-19 is heavily temperature sensitive and we get a big summer reduction.
Till then, elbow bumps for hand-shakes (or just stay the fk away from people) and best of luck being able to wipe your ass if you weren’t one of the jackasses buying a year’s worth of TP. I can’t put sheer force on the shoulder, or I would be riding quite a bit more given the opportunity.
Hope everyone is unaffected!
Menachem Brodie – Toolbox Contributor
Saturday night, at 9pm local time, the vast majority of the State of Israel was shut down. While supermarkets, pharmacies, and gas stations will remain open, all cultural and leisure activities and locations are closed until further notice:
Cafes (don’t worry, I had a feeling this was coming and slowly stocked up on lots of coffee from my favorite local roaster over the last 3 weeks!)
All schools and day care
You name it, they are closed. Gatherings of any kind are limited to a total of 10 people, but strongly discouraged. No weddings, no BBQ’s, no races.
I’ve been very impressed by the State of Israel’s response, as they have been very closely following the lead of Taiwan and Singapore in their self-quarantining of those who had been traveling abroad, since around mid-February.
Having had a little bit (smidge) of training on infectious disease prevention when I worked on the Ambulance running 911 calls, I’ve felt very naked without my “ready bag” which I had assembled for each shift while working (it did not make the list of “must haves” when I moved abroad, as there was only so much room).
All of my in-person strength training sessions are cancelled for the next few weeks, or until the restrictions are lifted. While very disappointed, it’s totally understood by those I coach, and we’ve seamlessly transferred over to using the HVT app for distance /at home workouts.
The cycling federation here has banned all team training sessions, and so many riders are turning to Zwift or CVRCade for their training.
This coach is left with a pair of rollers for some indoors training, as I had sold my Tacx Bushido trainer back in the spring, in anticipation of purchasing a new drive-train smart trainer in the fall…which never happened due to my breaking my leg in an accident. My training at home otherwise is uninterrupted, as we have a full line-up of Kettlebells (4-24kg pairs), as well as bands, a TRX, a 10kg body-bar, and lots of textbooks to load into some reusable bags so I can continue my strength training & metabolic training.
Making lemon-drop cocktails with lemon bars to boot (out of the proverbial lemons, and some stashed away alcohol), the focus of the time at home will be on working on some new pre-made at home training programs to help more riders, as well as spending more quality time with the family. My online clients and I will continue as per usual, with their workouts changing only due to their local restrictions, or personal choices and available at-home equipment (they don’t need much). While the last forced time off wound up with my writing my first book “The Vortex Method”, I’m not sure I want to start writing the second book quite so quickly, but a few clients and friends have been pushing me to do so, so we shall see.
This time is incredibly taxing MENTALLY for many riders alike, and it’s important to share those feelings and thoughts with others, opening a conversation in a “safe place”. We are not meant to be solitary, and it’s important to keep up the community. Let us here at PEZ know what you’re doing!
Be smart, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water EVERY TIME, and keep that 6 foot “Social Distancing” in play….Perhaps it’ll help us get the space we need (and legally deserve) out on the road after all this is done!
Jason Saltzman – Rider Blog
So, what do you do when bike racing is cancelled? As a professional cyclist who packed up life and moved halfway across the globe to a small town where I know only my landlord and a teammate and don’t speak the language, it is certainly easy to look at the temporary disappearance of the medium through which I am chasing my dreams as an insurmountable roadblock.
A brief pause to enjoy the irony during Saturday’s 125km, 3000m slugfest, two-man “race” with my teammate and the only person I know in town, Stefan Pöll
However disappointing and disheartening it may be to have no tangible goal to aim at in training, I am enjoying the simple pleasure of riding my bike in a beautiful, new place. The strict diet of race specific intervals has been replaced with a more wholistic approach, certain days are hard days, certain days are moderate, and certain days are easy.
While I’ve accumulated plenty of Training Stress Score (TSS) points, I haven’t hit the lap button on my computer since the openers ride I did Wednesday (the Istrian Spring Trophy stage race in Croatia was supposed to start on Thursday) and I’ve gotten “lost” (mainly through my inability to discern paved versus unpaved roads on online mapping platforms) on multiple occasions while exploring my new home roads here in Austria.
The current uncertainty as to when racing will resume provides new challenges in maintaining both physical and mental form but for the immediate future the recipe is one of enjoying having race fitness without the pressure of every ride needing to follow the TrainingPeaks plan to the letter. All this said, I’d suggest checking back in on my optimism again later this week once the forecasted weather takes a turn for the worse…
Jason’s second blog on PEZ soon.
Leslie Reissner – Literary Editor
The poet Swinburne wrote “For winter’s rains and ruins are over, And all the season of snows and sins; The days dividing lover and lover, The light that loses, the night that wins; And time remembered is grief forgotten, And frosts are slain and flowers begotten, And in green underwood and cover Blossom by blossom the spring begins.” But for cycling fans Spring 2020 is not this bright harbinger of hope as those of us who live for the Spring Classics can find no solace as COVID-19 rages through the world. We are seeing races that historically have only been cancelled due to World Wars—and not even then in some instances—fall from the calendar. And not just cycling events: conferences, concerts, weddings and funerals are dropped or postponed; cafes and public libraries closed; governments decree that there shall be no more shaking of hands; nations one by one go into lockdown mode.
Having lived in countries or visited ones where disturbing diseases have never disappeared, I am under no apprehension as to the risk this latest virus poses and the need for rapid and effective countermeasures. Sport is entertainment and we have many alternatives for entertainment in the modern digital world. As a Gentleman of Leisure my life has not been much affected, although the stock market’s swoon means I don’t need to spend much time contemplating my former wealth: I have books and DVDs and music to enjoy; I can ride my bicycle in the Pain Cave as I can’t ride outside here anyway and so have been “enjoying” the Rouvy app, which allows me to visit countries I could not go in current circumstances, all of which seem to feature brutal climbs. I can watch old race videos or even recent ones on the UCI website if I need a pro cycling fix and there are plenty of pieces on PezCyclingNews to reread as well. There are some consolations: dogs are enjoying the presence of their masters at home all day; the Metropolitan Opera will cheer us up with free HD operas every night this week; there are jokes about hoarding toilet paper, and so forth.
The precautions we are told to consider seem straightforward and getting accustomed to serious hand-washing will probably have benefits in the future. For most of us what is happening is a temporary inconvenience, even if frustrating at the least and distressing at the worst. The races will return and, yes, yes, yes, Mathieu van der Poel will amaze us. More importantly, let us and our families and friends all come through this remarkable moment in world history unscathed.
All the best,
Chris Selden – French Bureau
What to say about all of this? As I’m currently on a one year trip around the world the events of the past few months and especially the past few weeks and days have really started to have an impact on my life and I’ve gone from being unconcerned about the virus to now being very concerned.
At the end of the day it’s our own and our family and friend’s health that is the most important thing in the world and a few cancelled bike races is hardly the end of the world. At the same time I couldn’t imagine a summer in my adopted country of France without Le Tour but it could be possible. Until then though I have no idea of when or how myself and my family will get back to France as we are currently on the other side of the world camping in Australia. The next leg of our trip which is all booked and paid for is through south east Asia and it’s looking more and more unlikely…
Keep safe everyone.
Alastair Hamilton – Editor – EuroTrash – Spanish Bureau
Here in Spain the situation is much the same as it is for Alessandro in Italy. Nearly everything is closed, only supermarkets, petrol stations and chemists, oh yes and tobacco shops. The chemists (and I guess the tobacconists) are only allowing two people in at a time and the petrol stations are taking your money through the glass night counter. I had to take some spare keys to someone on Monday morning, the traffic was about 20% of what it usually is at that time. A 30 minute journey took 10 minutes. I was not asked why I was out, but the police and Guardia Civil are sending people home, apparently they were at the junction to/from Calpe, so no cyclist training at the moment. I saw Remco Evenepoel and Iljo Keisse last week, they will be back in Belgium by now. On Sunday cyclist were sent home by the police and in some cases fined for being out. The Guardia do have the power to confiscate the bikes.
Some say “if you are out on your bike what harm are you doing?” Well, apart from the chance of spreading the coronavirus, if you have an accident you will be using an ambulance, hospital bed and care-workers time, plus a hospital is the last place you want to be at the moment. Hard training will weaken your immune system, so you also will be at risk. It’s a ‘lock down’ it’s the law, stay home.
On Sunday evening at 10pm there was public clapping through out Spain in appreciation of the health workers, on Monday it was at 8pm so the kids could join in. “Any drawback has its own advantage” – Johan Cruyff’s famous statement now seems to be very clear. The misery of the virus that affects the entire world creates solidarity, as we have not known it for a long time. We are all in the same boat, and only together we can solve it. A good start to solve other problems that we all share worldwide together? Who knows, maybe this was an unexpected start? I wish everyone wisdom and reflection in this strange period.
Keep safe everyone.
# You can read Ed Hood’s Corona Rant HERE. #