Virtual Gravel Racing in the COVID-19 Real World? Outside in the fresh air?

Hello trendsetters, there’s no need for me to ramble on about the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, all of us are very familiar with how life has changed. I keep myself mostly apprised of happenings relating to cycling around the internet, which currently is rife with folks hopping aboard indoor trainers to ride virtually. Online training such as Zwift, Sufferfest and Rouvy have been a boon to those truly stuck indoors, i.e. our friends in Spain and Italy, who are currently forbidden from riding bikes outdoors. If you think you’ve got it rough with your version of lockdown / stay-at-home and social distancing, pleeeaaaaassssseeeeee, keep your bitching about first-world problems to yourself.

covid-19 bicycle racing
Crushing virtual gravel with full-suspension!

Recently, I obtained an indoor trainer from my good friends at Minoura Japan, namely the Smart Turbo Kagura LSD9200. Incidentally, this is a VERY nice trainer that is super quiet… I will be posting a review later. I had plans to host a fun, virtual, social ride once a week?, but I remain undecided for now, considering just about every pro cyclist is hosting virtual online training rides. The idea doesn’t seem that original but assuming I change my mind, I’ve got an idea or two for a different twist on that theme, which could extend way beyond any COVID-19 lockdown, more on that later!

covid-19 bicycle racing
Social distancing before it was cool, example #1

Another idea that popped into mind recently, was along the lines of the Mudcrutch Gravel Team Time Trial event I hosted recently (I still need to produce the video from that), long before COVID-19 made serious inroads to the United States. Now, unless you cohabitate with another cyclist, riding with friends or groups at the moment is the worst thing you can do, and will only potentially spread this cursed virus further… and not flatten the curve. Riding in groups also sends the wrong impression to motorists… nobody needs to see groups of cyclists riding together, disrespecting social distancing guidelines, so, none of that!

covid-19 bicycle racing
Social distancing in the middle of effin nowhere

Moving along, what if you took the team time trial idea, but instead, rode solo along a gravelly loop, and recorded your ride on said loop / course on a service such as Strava? Much as I don’t like Strava, a segment could be made of the loop / course. I have one or two ideas for a suitable course near my USA base of Gainesville, Florida, but let’s not kid ourselves here; this will only appeal to racer types or those who enjoy suffering time trial style. The window of competition could run for a few weeks, and be a good test of fitness for those still interested in racing. My version of this idea would be free, along the lines of the mantra associated with the North Florida Freeride Gravel Series.

covid-19 bicycle racing
Social distancing on a heritage railway bridge

In fact, those good people who host the Instagram account @kc_gravel_crushers along with @tysrides have a similar idea in conjunction with Dave’s Bike Shop, but theirs has gone from concept to execution. Their idea is as follows:

“We designed a 68 mile gravel route on #strava – Rule 1: Support local business – race entry is $20 gift card from a local business. 2: You have a month to ride the #Covid19CrusherRace route on Strava as fast as you can solo, using safe social distancing. No Groups! 3: No E-bikes or cheating. 4: top 2 men and women on the Strava segment win the gift cards. Who‚Äôs interested?”

covid-19 bicycle racing

Give them a follow on Instagram, check it out for yourselves!

For the racer types, I hope these ideas will inspire you to host your own COVID-19 ride event. Above all, ride alone, ride safely and predictably, don’t take any unnecessary risks. We don’t need to potentially overload the existing healthcare infrastructure.

covid-19 bicycle racing
Nobody for miles / kms!

For the non-racer types, if you’re able to ride, do so when you possibly can. Cycling in any form is good for clarity and mental health.

covid-19 bicycle racing
Rear tyre view social distancing

Whilst yours truly may not compete in the race idea I’ve proposed, I’m still riding a lot. Check out my solo 193-mile berserk ride here, you can rest assured knowing I have another such ride happening soon ūüôā

Thanks for reading!

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