Cycling during lockdown provided safer, practical and physical benefits for many. A sharp rise in sales left retailers struggling to meet demand and at its peak, you couldn’t walk down a street without seeing a cyclist.
The Government introduced an incentive to promote cycling with the Fix your Bike Voucher Scheme so you would think this healthier and greener mode of transport would continue as we ease our way into a post-Covid future…
But with many cities not catering to cyclists equally and roads strewn with potholes, people’s newfound joy of cycling looks to be winding down as quickly as it started.
There is also the likelihood that lockdown coinciding with British summertime created more opportunity for cycling, but as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder and darker, will people’s love of cycling turn into merely a holiday romance?
It’s great that the government is encouraging cycling but honestly, £50 will not get you very much these days.
Roy Holmes of Holmes Cycling is a competitive cyclist with over 80 wins spanning his racing career. He’s a member of the Bott Cycle Team and is a qualified cycling coach with both the Association of British Cycle Coaches and British Cycling.
Roy’s love of cycling for 45 years and counting is one that’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Come rain or shine, Roy always finds time to get in the saddle and ride.
We asked him about cycling during lockdown and what his thoughts are for the future and for those that perhaps don’t have the confidence and experience of cycling that he has.
Did you notice any difference while cycling during lockdown?
When lockdown first started the roads were very quiet with regards to motor vehicles and it was great, it was like turning the clock back 40 years. Cyclists rejoiced! But sadly, this did not last more than 2-3 weeks, after which the volume of vehicles soon started to rise again and now several months later and things are back to “normal” traffic wise.
While the roads were quiet, I saw many more people out on bikes who I would not class as regular cyclists but who loved the quiet roads and felt safe. It was great but short lived.
Do you think people who turned to cycling throughout lockdown will continue?
A few will I’m sure but already I have seen numbers drop which is a shame but entirely due to traffic returning to previous levels and making people feel unsafe again.
What are your thoughts on the new government Fix a Bike Voucher scheme?
It’s great that the government is encouraging cycling and for people to get their bikes checked but honestly £50 will not get you very much these days. The scheme has been created to help people fix their bikes but the roads need fixing in order for more to ride them safely.
With more cyclists on the road post-lockdown presents more risk of road traffic accidents, what advice would you give to cycling newbies?
It’s a difficult one because you need to have confidence to claim the road and not ride right in the gutter which encourages drivers to squeeze past and come much too close.
Riding about 1.0 meter out from the curb means vehicles are more likely to wait for room to pass. Lots of drivers understand this but there will always be the impatient ones who feel they, and only they, have the right to be on the road and no one else should impede their progress even just for a few seconds. These are the people who need educating and the Government are currently reviewing the Highway Code to better reflect the needs of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.
What has Covid-19 and lockdown meant for race calendar?
The year has been a total write-off for me and indeed for everyone in terms of any competitions. Riders are now starting to think about 2021 and hoping things will be more normal by then.
How has coronavirus affected your fitness?
Due to Covid-19, I am not race fit but I have kept riding and doing a lot more indoor training using my smart trainer and the virtual training program, Zwift.
As we head towards winter, what tips do you have for cycling in winter weather conditions?
Exactly like anyone who spends their leisure time outdoors, it’s not about the bad weather, it’s about the right clothing. There is some great clothing available these days and fantastic waterproofs so my advice would be to invest in good gear to keep as warm and dry as possible.
What are the cycling essentials you wouldn’t leave home without?
- Spare inner tube
- ID with home address
- Mobile Phone
- Bike computer to record my ride
- Heart rate and power monitor becuase I am a coach and I have to practise what I preach
Is there a cycle route or race you aspire to complete?
I have an ambition to ride the Stelvio pass in the Dolomites of Northern Italy.
If you could cycle anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
My favourite place to ride is Mallorca because it has everything – flat/mountains and all in-between.