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April 25, 2020 2 min read

Lockdown has ended James Sandbrook's varied cycling life but led to an unexpected upside.

 

I'm a mountain biker at heart but will pick up my road bike to hurt myself on a group ride every so often and I usually have a few 'big-mountain' rides in the calendar throughout the year. Throw in a few bike parks, bike packing and local trail centres and I'm a happy man.

 

But then COVID-19 hit, we got locked down and I found myself needing to be a bit more creative on a local level. I'd recently got into riding gravel after The Dirty Reiver last year and took delivery of a lovely new Canyon Grail in early March.

 

I have a big map of my local area on the wall of my office and for years I have thought about trying to create a loop from my doorstep of bridleways, tracks, canals and backroads but I just never got around to it. So this seemed like the perfect excuse to do just that.

 

And boy am I glad I did.

 

Within less than half a mile I discovered a bridleway I'd ridden past hundreds of times and never noticed. That linked into another and another. And they're always completely empty. After a few rides, I had created a couple of 20+mile loops that were absolutely incredible.

 

So even though, like most of us, I'm now working at home, I am also not travelling for work. There are no physical meetings and as a result, I'm able to find that little bit of extra time to lose myself and simply explore.

 

It has had a huge effect on me mentally. I expected to feel stressed and confined during lock-down. I expected to struggle creatively too and yet quite the opposite has happened.

 

I'm getting really quite fit, the creativity is flowing and I think I just a better human to be around as a result.

 

Yes, I miss the mountain bike and the banter with mates but there is a silver lining in these terrible times. The sun has been shining and I am determined to make the most the limitations we've been given. That adventure could be on just on your doorstep too.

 


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