The COVID-19 pandemic has brought cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other notable personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amid the sport’s shutdown.
Rob Britton is living in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia this month as his fiancée, a pediatrician, completes a rotation at a local children’s hospital. The two usually live in Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Britton is a GC rider with Rally Cycling, the reining Canadian time trial national champion, and an experienced bikepacker.
When Britton arrived in Vancouver, he was recovering from a stomach virus, which he caught at the Tour Colombia 2.1. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic brought pro cycling to a halt, and his spring European campaign was canceled.
“I suppose this is the silver lining of being a hermit most of the time — it hasn’t impacted me that much,” Britton said. “I feel for those people who it’s having a big financial impact on.”
Britton has spent the past two weeks riding his road and gravel bikes on the roads and trails outside Vancouver by himself.
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
What are the current regulations where you live about going outside?
Canadians have been told to stay at home and avoid groups, and to keep two meters away from the next person while outdoors and visiting businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies. British Columbia officials have said that people can still go outside for fresh air and to exercise, but only with members of the same household, or by themselves.
What races were you planning to do that have been canceled or postponed?
The Tour of Sicily was like April 1-4, and then I was going to do a week in Girona before Paris-Camembert, Tour du Finestre, and then three stage races: Vuelta Castilla y Leon, Vuelta Asturias Julio Alvarez Mende, and Vuelta Madrid. Then, I was doing an altitude camp in Andorra that built into the Tour de Suisse. Everything until that camp has officially been canceled, and unless things change tomorrow, I can’t see Switzerland going on.
What are you doing today?
Weather depending, I’m going on a bike ride for between 3-5 hours.
Are you doing a workout? If so, what specifically?
Today is an endurance day, so probably some basic, low-cadence and varying-cadence stuff. I want to take advantage of the climbs we have here. The climb to Cypress [Mountain Resort], they have it gated at the bottom and they’re just letting essential cars up, so it’s essentially become a private road. I just got here and ride up and down it half a dozen times to take advantage of the elevation we don’t have in Victoria. It’s probably 700 meters high, and 10 kilometers at 6 percent.
Note: Britton also has a favorite trainer workout, which he has included below.
3×15 minutes Zone 3 (300 – 330 watts)
4 minutes 50rpm/1 minute 100 rpm (first minute of each low-rpm set is standing, which makes the time go by fast)
What indoor gear are you using?
Normatec. I don’t have a trainer here because I’m not at my home. I have a TheraGun and a foam roller, so it’s mostly just recovery stuff. (There’s also his espresso machine).
What is your motivation to train right now?
Luckily for me I love riding my bike, so that’s my motivation. It’s never been a challenge to get out the door and do the work. I love that I can ride my bike for my job, and I don’t really need motivation to go out and train. Now, if I was restricted to the trainer, I have about three weeks tolerance for that. When I lived in Calgary; we’d spend a December there and it would feel like quarantine because it’s -30 (C) for weeks at a time, and if you just go walk to the store you have to wear all of your clothes just to do that. Otherwise, I just rode the trainer, and I’ve done that before. So long as it’s not being federally imposed, not having to ride the trainer like that would be great.
How are you communicating with friends and family?
I spend so much time on the road, that it’s kind of the same as always. I have a network of close friends, and we are connected through group chats, Instagram, and WhatsApp. I talk to them more, actually, on those. I get to see my fiancée way more than I have been able to in the last few years, which is great. I have been checking in with my buddies and teammates down in the U.S. a bit more. They are the ones I would normally see a lot but now I’m not seeing.
Have you received any helpful advice?
One of the best things I heard was that we need to rethink the phrase, ‘social distancing’ with this whole thing. I think what we need to do is ‘physical distancing,’ which is really important. But I think we need to socially bring ourselves closer through communication, and to stay tight with friends and reach out to people who are more susceptible to this than we are. I have a fiancée and close friends, but I realize that some people are at home by themselves; maybe they’re not in their home country and they are on lockdown.
When do you expect to race again?
Optimistically is Canadian Nationals in June because each nation has the power to control the calendar a bit more. Realistically, it could be the Tour of Utah in August. While rummaging through my bag to find riding clothes today I found my Canadian national champion skinsuit and realized I may never get a chance to actually race in it.