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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.
Quinn Simmons had just completed a reconnaissance ride of the Paris-Roubaix cobblestones with his Trek-Segafredo team when he received word that the United States was about to impose travel restrictions to and from Europe to combat the mounting coronavirus pandemic.
Simmons, the reigning junior world road champion, was eager to make his debut in a few weeks at pro cycling’s ‘Hell of the North,’ yet he realized the severity of the warning. So, in a matter of hours, he and his younger brother, Colby, who was also in Europe to race with the Lux development team, booked flights back to the United States.
“We were gone in 18 hours,” Simmons told VeloNews. “I personally tried to hold onto the thought of racing as long as I could, and then it became more a matter of getting home than worrying about [racing].”
Since returning to his home in Durango, Colorado, Simmons has been staying active by venturing into the backcountry on his skis with his family — an activity he’s done since he was a child.
Location: Durango, CO
What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
A handful of cities in Colorado have enacted stay-at-home orders, however Durango is not one of them. Residents are being urged to socially distance themselves.
*On March 21st, Colorado imposed a statewide stay-at-home mandate advising people to work from home and allowing only essential services to remain open. The new orders allow for Coloradans to still go walking, hiking, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, biking, or running. This interview with Quinn Simmons occurred prior to the orders being in place.
What races were you planning to do that have been canceled or postponed?
Nokere-Koerse, Koksijde Classic, Grand Prix de Denain, Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne, Gent-Wevelgem, Scheldeprijs, Paris-Roubaix.
What are you doing today?
It’s been good, I did a little skiing just to get out and stay fit. I’m not really doing anything specifically for training. I’ve been off the bike since I got back.
Are you doing workouts? If so, what specifically?
I’ve been skiing the past few days. I timed it really well with the conditions, because the last three days have been really good powder. I was skiing off Coal Bank Pass with 18 inches of fresh snow, and then it snowed another foot the next day. The vertical gain on a day like that would be 4,000 to 5,000 feet of up and down, and like 4.5 hours of skinning up. After skiing three days in a row I was pretty tired, so I needed a rest day, because it actually started to feel like training. So, I went out for an easy day, with the dog.
I’ll start getting on the bike on Friday, and then it’s basically copy-and-paste from November 1. The general consensus is to start with a new base period and keep up the endurance until we know the race dates and can train more specifically.
What indoor gear are you using?
The team is sending me a stationary trainer. I don’t actually have one. I normally leave Durango by the time we’re not able to ride outside. We’ll see how it goes. I’m really bad at training inside. It’s not something I normally do.
What is your motivation to train now?
The first week I was back the motivation was pretty low, because mentally I spent so much energy building up to the classics. The races are the fun part. We were just getting into the fun part of the year where you just race and rest and there are no real training rides left to do The day before we left was going to be my last long training ride before the races. It was hard to even think about riding when I got back. Now that I’ve had a few days off — and I can tell that I’ve lost some fitness — I’m ready to get back to it. Everyone wants to be at the top of their game because we know that the races will come back, eventually. So, I’m ready to get back to it.
How are you communicating with friends and family?
My entire family is at home so it’s been pretty easy. A lot of guys I’ve talked to were in the same scenario as me; they had been in Europe and then made a mad dash home. We’re all in the same bubble of not knowing what to do in terms of training, so it’s been interesting.
Have you received any helpful advice?
The team has been solid at providing information from our doctors about the spread of the disease and what we need to do to keep from spreading it. The performance staff is building a plan for what to do now, and what to do once the races start up again. I think that big, overarching advice is hard to give because nobody has ever been through something like this.
When do you think you’ll race again?
My best guess would be the middle of June with U.S. nationals, but even that might be too ambitious.