Canadian Cycling Magazine
A lesson that will always serve us, just like the bike
Before this issue of Canadiancyclingmagazine, I’m pretty sure the word “coronavirus” had only appeared once in its pages. It was in the previous issue, in a story about a Canadian trail builder in China. In this issue, “coronavirus” and “covid-19” appear 21 times. Even in stories that don’t mention the pandemic explicitly, its influence is there, just as it’s influenced everything from global politics to our home lives.
In the world of pro cycling, the season has been slammed, races cancelled or postponed. The gran fondos, enduros, gravel races and charity rides we had planned to do have all taken hits. You’ve no doubt been riding alone, whether on your trainer or with caution on roads or trails, depending on what access you have to outside routes. As spring came to the country, a time when bike shops are busy in normal years, they found themselves very challenged. People looking for ways to keep fit rediscovered bikes – often old clunkers in garages and basements in need of servicing – just as shops adapted to physical-distancing measures and restrictions that all retail spaces faced.
What these new cyclists have discovered, or maybe knew all along, is that the bike is an amazing vehicle. It’s technologically stunning, but still approachable. It’s fun. It makes getting fit and staying fit a blast. It can be a means to meditative states of flow. Even cleaning and maintaining a bike can be relaxing rituals. For me, my bike has been a constant in this world of flux. As always, it’s the fastest, most efficient way to get around my city. Throughout the lockdown, I’ve done my family’s once-a-week grocery shopping on my bike, loading up my panniers to their limits. (Carrying full panniers up 16 flights of stairs is phenomenal neuromuscular work.) When I leave my place, I can move through the quiet city streets solo and with ease.
An overused word in cycling is “suffering.” We celebrate the suffering that pros endure throughout races. We even brag about or marvel at difficult rides that have left us totally drained. But there’s a more important quality that features in any hard
“My bike has been a constant in this world of flux.”
ride. It’s a quality that serves all of us in hard times. It’s perseverance. That’s a more important part of this issue than covid-19. It was perseverance that allowed the athletes who faced the 1980 Olympic boycott (p.42) to keep going and it’s what today’s riders are showing us as they stay focused on Tokyo 2020. It’s perseverance that helped Esteban Chaves (p.24) overcome illness and injuries. It’s what helps Svein Tuft, Geoff Kabush, Jenny Tough and Cory Wallance on their long, challenging solo rides (p.34).
Perseverance: it’s one of the most important qualities that the bike can show you.