OPINION: On cycling (or not) during coronavirus

Just before I put the bike away, early January in Essex. Pic: Sean Russell

You can leave the house for one form of exercise per day, including cycling, but, as part of the #WhatsStoppingYou series, Sean Russell writes that 120km into Essex is probably not what the government had in mind

In early January I had my bike serviced and cleaned and I put it away for the winter. I’ve never enjoyed riding in the cold, but more than anything I despise riding in the rain and wind. I took to the warmth of the indoor bike, to keep my form and fitness, and vowed to return to the roads at the first sign of spring.

Now the first tentative steps into spring are upon us. The skies are blue, the wind still and the sun shining. It’s cold but not bitter. It is perfect weather to brush the dust off (there is no dust on my beauty) and go out of Tower Hamlets, and up to Epping and into Essex. But my bike will remain exactly where it is.

Coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill, and as we enter just the second week of lockdown in this country, I can say that I will not be going out on my bike until this is all over. I will be lowering my sports participation over the next few months, as will millions of others around the world. Some voluntarily – like me – other involuntarily, but regardless we will all have to stop the things we love, in order to save lives.

I’ll be using a turbo trainer for the forseeable future, it’s not quite Essex. Pic: Sean Russell

The government says we can go out for one form of exercise each day, including running or cycling. However, 120KM into Essex is not exactly what I think Boris Johnson had in mind when he said that. He meant a pootle around the park or to the food shop.

But since we haven’t been banned, why wouldn’t I go out on my bike? Surely it is a great way to get away from lockdown, safe from infection or infecting? It is, but I am following the example of those two grand cycling nations; Spain and Italy.

In those two countries cycling has been banned. Why? Simple, if you were to have an accident on your bike you would take valuable resources from a hospital.

I have had one accident while cycling. It was minor and I did not need to go to hospital. But when out you always – always – take the risk. If Chris Froome, winner of four Tours de France, and arguably one of the greatest cyclists of all time, was able to have a catastrophic accident whilst training, so can Barry from accounts, no matter how many times he’s ridden that route.

I refuse to be that cyclist in the hospital in my lycra taking a bed and resources from people that desperately need it because I simply wanted to ride my bike. It’s just not important right now. So I will stick to the indoor bike for a little longer. I will stay home. The view of Tower Hamlets out my window isn’t so bad anyway.

Have you given up any of your sports during lockdown? Tell us on Twitter

This is day one of four in Eastlondonlines’ #WhatsStoppingYou series. Read the rest of the series here.

This is not the view from my window… This is a road in Essex, the haunt of many of us East-Londoners. Pic: Sean Russell

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