Culture

Day in the life: Adam Hansen

3D printing surgical masks, developing electronic shoelaces, adjusting his bike position and making YouTube videos - Hansen hasn't been getting bored during lockdown in the Czech Republic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought professional cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amidst the shutdown.

Having ridden 28 grand tours across his 13-year top-tier career, Adam Hansen probably thought he’d experienced everything that life as a pro cyclist could throw at him. However, earlier this year, the Lotto-Soudal rider was caught up in the UAE Tour lockdown that left riders, staff and journalists quarantined in Abu Dhabi hotels. Now, just six weeks later, the 38-year-old Australian is in lockdown again, but this time at his home in the Czech Republic. But with a full workshop and design lab in his house, he’s not short of things to do…

Location: Frydlant nad Ostravici (a small town in the Czech Republic, near the border with Poland and Slovakia)

What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?

Along with Slovakia, we’re the only country in Europe where it’s compulsory to wear a mask every time you leave the house. We’re allowed to ride freely, but are only supposed to be going outside for exercise, to work or to visit essential shops.

What races were you planning to do that have been canceled or postponed?

Paris-Nice was on my schedule but that changed due to coronavirus. When it turned out that Tirreno-Adriatico canceled, people gave up Paris-Nice spaces for leaders like Philippe Gilbert who were looking for results at Milano-Sanremo and needed the racing more.

After Paris-Nice, it was going to be Sanremo, Pays Basque, then Tour de Yorkshire. Then Tour de Suisse, Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.

What are you doing today?

I’m super-busy. Basically, I get up and do a core session, which I love doing. And then my days vary quite a lot.

I’ve always wanted to tweak my bike position quite a bit, but never had time to do in the past. So I’m just testing new things. I’m using the Leomo [movement analysis] System for that and I’m testing different riding positions that I wanted to try but never had time to. I’m working on my TT position a lot more too.

I have a YouTube channel so I’m actually spending a lot of time catching up with that.

In a way, I’m actually enjoying the lockdown. I have a full workshop downstairs where I have all the tools and material to make pretty much anything, and then upstairs my office is like a research and development center and electronics lab. I’m into automated electronics and programming mini-boards. At the moment I’m trying to make electric laces in my shoes. So instead of having a ratchet system, having a motor in there to make them electronic. I’ve done a whole Youtube video on it.

Hansen is never one to get bored, and has been programming electronics for a shoe lacing system.

I’m 3D printing masks for the hospitals here too. Like a lot of countries, we’re very low on masks and I designed a mask where I’m able to use sections of a cut-up surgical mask. You should only use a surgical mask one time, whereas I 3D printed a mask where you can cut up the membrane of a surgical mask and use it nine times. I’ve already delivered quite a lot to the local hospital.

There’s also a group of us here in the Czech Republic making shield screens for the people on the front line at the medical hospitals. It’s a full face shield, and they wear a mask underneath. They’ve reached out to all the people here with 3D printers to do all we can and I’m lucky because I have a lot of material for my 3D printer, but special flexible materials that fit really well for a mask.

Medical masks that Hansen has been 3D printing for local hospitals

Are you doing a workout? If so, what specifically?

I do lots of tests to improve my position. I don’t want to train too much in the current time, because I think we will start racing in June and I think it’s a bit of a mistake for the riders who are training too much now. So for today’s ride, I’ll be training inside. And I’ll be doing some efforts in different positions to try and work out which position is better. I incorporate it with training.

What indoor gear are you using?

In the morning, I do a short session on the TACX Galaxy rollers. They’re just basic rollers, but it’s fun because they move around and so is good for pedaling technique. But I use the SRM Indoor Trainer for my main sessions because it’s big and stable. I love it.

What is your motivation for training right now?

Because I love it! I’m a pro cyclist so I can train rather than so I can race — if that makes sense. I love the training and the whole feeling of it.

A look into one of Hansen’s off-bike hobbies.

How are you communicating with friends and family?

I don’t use Facebook and that. So just the usual, Whatsapp and Skype really.

Have you received any helpful advice? 

We have a WhatsApp group and the team doctors are saying quite a lot teaching us about what coronavirus is to better our understanding.

And there’s so much information from the government. Because I live out in the countryside, there’s a car out with a speaker putting out information. This is an ex-communist country and it’s like the old communist days, when a car drives by with the speaker on, giving out information to the community.

I can really see during this lockdown how the former communist countries are really different – how they are handling the lockdown and respect authority. We have very strict measures and the community really follows them. We were low on face masks and in three days, all the women got their sewing machines out and produced enough face masks for the whole country.

When do you think you’ll race again?

I think June or July. This whole situation obviously isn’t very good, but it could turn around quite quickly and become good. With vaccines and things like that, normally it’s only the private sectors that try to make them and get a profit. But this is one of the first times ever in human history where every single government is working together, sharing knowledge and information about this.