COVID19 turned the world upside down – that’s an indisputable fact. It’s a horrid disease, and many thousands have died from it, with more still apparently suffering long-term health affects, after having survived it.
As I write this, I’m aware of how lucky I am in not having had the illness, nor having anyone close to me who caught it.
But the impact of COVID19 stretches far beyond physical health, and economic devastation. Around the world, many people’s mental health has severely suffered, and lives have been utterly disrupted.
At the very start of Lockdown 1 in the UK, my employers outsourced IT Support – and therefore my job. Now, when something like that happens in the UK, you don’t lose your job, but instead your job moves to the new company. This meant I started working at new employers at a new company, right at the start of lockdown. Obviously, that meant working from home.
And here’s the rub: the largest part of my annual cycling mileage was racked up during commuting. The shortest route to work used to be 11 miles, but I preferred an alternative 15 mile route, so just getting to work and back home meant riding 30 miles per day.
Especially in summer, I’d often set off earlier, to take a longer route to work, and there were often days where I’d done over 50 miles by the time I get to work. Cycle commuting rocks, and I loved it!
The thing with cycle commuting is it becomes a habit. It’s just something you do, without having to think about it. What this means in practice is I’d get up, get dressed in Lycra, and ride to work. What the weather’s like mostly doesn’t feature in that equation, and as a result, I’ve cycled to or from work in torrential rain, sleet, snow, scorching hot and bitterly cold days.
Suddenly switching to working from home changes that equation a great deal, by removing the necessity element. Oh, sure, I could still get up early and go for a ride, but the reality is that I was dealing with the most difficult start to a new job I’ve ever had in my life.
Though the company I was working for is good, they clearly didn’t have an effective strategy in place to on-board me while working from home. I met my manager briefly, face to face, when collecting my laptop, but didn’t get to meet anyone else.
I was learning new systems, new software and new practices, all while the company was restructuring its own network. That simply meant I was playing catch-up all the time, and I’d spend the time I otherwise may have used to go for a bike ride, to get to grips with my new job instead. I felt utterly alone, and to a very large degree, unsupported, and my stress levels were through the roof.
The direct result was that my cycling mileage plummeted, and with that, my physical fitness. Now, cycling has long been my safety valve, and my preferred way of taking care of my own mental health, so not cycling has broad implications for me.
What didn’t help in the slightest was when people on furlough were bragging about the massive increases in their cycling, while the only massive increase in my world was the hours I was working.
I’ve since slowly started increasing my mileage again, and I’ve taken up running, to help improve my general fitness. Slowly, I’m losing excess weight, and regaining my fitness, but I have a very long way to go yet.
How did lockdown (full lockdown, or living in the tiered system implemented in the UK) affect you, and your cycling? Did you have to cancel plans?