Culture

Day in the life: Katie Hall

Nine questions with the Boels-Dolmans rider who is sheltering in place in California.

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.

Pre-pandemic, Katie Hall’s spring plan was to race in Italy in March, fly home to California after Trofeo Alfredo Binda and spend about a month there before returning to Europe for April’s Ardennes classics. When the Strade Bianche was cancelled in early March, she booked an earlier flight. Although the Boels-Dolmans (SD Worx) rider knew that life would be different when she touched down in the US, she was nevertheless excited to jump into the beloved routine that being home had always signified for her: spending time with her husband and riding bikes with her cycling community.

“Now I’m home and grateful for that,” Hall told VeloNews. “But, it’s not what I expected when I left Girona. Life is pretty different and I’m glad to be home, but this is not what I imagined.”

Katie Hall
Hall riding with her husband, outside of their home in Saratoga, CA. Photo: Katie Hall

Location: Saratoga, CA

What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
We have a shelter in place order which means we are allowed to go out for necessary things like groceries. We’re still allowed to ride outside. Most of my teammates in Europe are not, so I’m really grateful we’re allowed outside on bikes. 

I’m trying to make choices that will reduce my chance of ending up in the hospital. I’ve never been in the hospital because of a training crash, but I’m choosing to descend slower. I’m choosing to stay on gravel, too.

Although, there are so many people in parks here that I’ve thought, is this really a better decision? Trying to pass people on singletrack? I’m happy to see people outdoors, but it feels busier than the mall.

What races were you planning to do that have been canceled or postponed?
Binda, Strade, Ardennes – I haven’t really looked past there. Then, we were getting into a ‘wait and see’ for next set of races. Next race was Thuringen Rundfahrt, end of May. Maybe we’ll be better by then, but you can’t count on anything right now.

What are you doing today?
Baking a lot. My coach wants me to take a little bit of time off my bike to reset. I might start that today. I’m struggling with what to do when not riding. I’ve been riding just to get out of the house, not training super hard. A little bit of exercise is good for the immune system. I know I’m not racing soon, so a little bit of rest isn’t bad.

So, I’m trying to rest, reset, and figure out what my next goals are and then focus. 

Katie Hall
She uses a scale. And sprinkles. Hall isn’t messing around. Photo: Katie Hall

Are you doing workouts? If so, what specifically?
I’m working a lot on hip mobility and trying to regain normal range of motion because I’ve been spending so much time on the bike. So I guess I’m putting extra emphasis on that. Doing some strengthening stuff. A little big of cleaning house, a little bit of moving around, not a lot of structure. 

What indoor gear are you using?
I just got a smart trainer yesterday so I’m getting set up on Zwift. I’ve never done that before. I’ve been riding the rollers and watching TV. I have a yoga mat and some resistance bands, so I do a lot of exercises with those. 

Katie Hall
Hall has never used a smart trainer – until today. Photo: Katie Hall

What is your motivation to train now?
What is my motivation? Right now, my training is taking a rest. Some of my motivation is just getting out of the house. I think a lot of people are doing a much better job than me of being really motivated and training really hard. I hope in two weeks we can talk about what’s motivating me, but right now it’s a little bit of rest, a little bit of exercise, a little bit of normalcy. 

I’ve seen some videos of people riding the trainer for seven hours and I’m definitely not doing that.

Katie Hall
Before riding with others was not recommended, Hall and friends collected trash on local roads. Photo: Katie Hall

How are you communicating with friends and family?
Video chats. A lot of video chats. That part I feel really grateful for. I’ve talked to a lot of friends on video that I normally wouldn’t really have had the chance to connect with. I’ve been talking to some friends that are in other places that I could have called anytime and now that I’m stuck at home, it seems like the thing to do. A lot of FaceTime.

Have you received any helpful advice?
It’s OK right now to not be at your peak fitness. It’s OK to take a bit of rest — skip the intervals. It’s still really important to move, but I think it’s OK to tone it down for a little while. People are frantic sometimes to get their workouts in at home. It’s great to work out at home, but there’s no need to stress a lot about it.

When do you think you’ll race again?
I hope in June. But I think you just have to see where we are in a month or two.