The easing of lockdown, June 2020

Just when you think it is all OK.

At the end of May we were eleven weeks into the restrictions, and I thought I was getting through it OK, plenty of walks in April, back on the bike in May. However, by the twelfth week, the realisation that this could go on for some time hit me, and even when some of the lockdown is being lifted, getting back to normal seems like it is going to be well into the future.

The first week in June also has a slap in the face in that the weather changes, dropping about 15⁰C, getting windy and raining. I can’t complain as we have had been incredibly lucky for the last twelve weeks, with record temperatures and an amazing dry spell, it had to come to an end, and the 3rd June was the day.

Suddenly though, it was difficult finding the motivation to go back out, especially on your own, going over the same old roads, when we don’t know when we might be able to get out of the area and explore again. The change in the weather also coincided with the government relaxing the rules on small gatherings, up to six people being able to meet up, ideal for a socially distanced group ride.

Thankfully, I have been able to start doing socially distanced rides with other friends, on a one to one basis, which has helped. As a single person living on your own, you do miss a proper conversation.

More cafés have also started to open, so getting refreshment out on the road is becoming a little easier, and therefore longer rides are an option, as the weather picks up.

I have started to do a few walks again in my down time and had a chance to find some great locations to get close-up on nature.

By the 14th June England started to open up a bit more and we were told that singletons like me could meet up with one other family and spend time together. So, I took the opportunity to meet up with my youngest son Dan, his wife Lara and my grandson Archie at the site of the glamping business she owns, Country Bumpkin Yurts.

It gave us the chance to have a socially distanced, but fun evening, catching up and soaking up the evening sun. As Archie started to get tired, he was taken home by Lara, while Dan and I pitched our camping kit and set in for the rest of the evening round the fire pit.

Dan had dug out the old poncho and sleeping bag that he used when he was in the army, very minimalist. I got chance to try out the tent I had bought some while back but had not had chance to try yet. I am not a great one for camping but had a surprisingly good night’s sleep, waking to a stunning misty morning, then sitting with a brew, soaking up the heat from the sun like a lizard on a rock.

It was great to have an almost normal evening and a great chance to pitch with Dan as we had not done this since Wales in 2005. This is what family is all about and it will be great when we can set up a third pitch for young Archie.

It had also given me chance to strap the gear to the Mason and I was really pleased with how it handled when loaded. Not quite as spritely as normal, but the 30/46 chainset came in very handy on the 1km climb out of town, which pitches up to 12.5% in places. I think going forward the plan will be to drive to a site, pitch up, then ride out of the site for few days. I don’t fancy hauling all of that, plus clothes around; it’s not my idea of fun.

As the month rolls on even more facilities are starting to reopen, and there’s a feeling of life returning to normal, much quicker than I expected.

By the 13th, the weather had started to pick up we actually had three of us out on a group ride, which was within the guidelines. We just had to make sure we didn’t get too close.

One of the guys I ride with regularly picked up his new gravel bike, so it seemed like a good idea to treat him to some of the local trails. We shot up to Cafe Ventoux to meet the rest of our normal Saturday gang, then Simon and I headed off on our own and had a full on 70km off-road thrash, which left us both grinning from ear-to-ear like a couple of kids.

We stopped in Rolleston by the lake, where we noticed the ground was literally moving. On closer inspection it was hundreds of young frogs, a sight that took me back to my childhood, when we had collected frog spawn and put it in a friends parents ornimental pond. The street finished up littered with young frogs. Happy days.

It’s now the last weekend in June and I have seen the lockdown ease rapidly in the last week or so. I have found people walking towards me as if the 2-metre rule no longer applies and roads are back as busy as they were pre-lockdown.

On the positive side, friends are starting to gather for group rides of up to five people and we are all sharing the same thoughts about how we have missed riding together. I always think of cycling as quite a solitary sport, but after this period you realise it forms the main strand of my social life and how much I have missed these people and my interaction with them over the last few months.

There are discussions in the press that travel, hotels, restaurants etc. are all going to start opening in July. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we can start to resume some kind of normal life.



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