By Larissa Connors
We are about a year into this pandemic, and returning to racing seems to be on the horizon. (For some brave enough to toe the line with a bunch of mouth breathers who will remove their mask 5 min after the start and potentially pour COVID into our lungs, racing is already back, but I digress.) While life as we knew it seems to be within reach, I want to take a moment to reflect on the ways we coped during the last year. The year of no travel or races, no road trips, stay at home orders, and fewer/smaller group rides. Because to be honest if you found the silver lining it glimmered gold.
For some of us it meant trying out the whole ‘draw a picture on Strava’ thing. I’ll be the first to say WTF that is some HARD s***! First of all, you are going to spend a whole day procrastinating your ‘work from home’ staring at the map until your eyeballs burn trying to figure out how the hell to get rear legs on your dinosaur that started out freaking amazing but THERE ARE NO ROADS to make legs with!!! Then you go ride the damn thing and realize a few unfortunate things. One, it’s hot as heck in Orange county in summer. Two, your route may only look like 65 miles but it’s going to take a year and a half, all the drinking fountains are shut off, and like an idiot you didn’t bring money because you were never going to be more than 10 miles from home. And Three, yeah, it’s going to take three years, to ride 65 miles. I hope someone delivers my birthday cake somewhere along the route because I would hate to miss my 35 birthday! Ride two blocks, turn, wait was that the right turn, ride 10 more feet, turn, turn, turn!!! Yeah, that was so fun guys!
For others the pandemic caused us to explore all the possible routes in our backyard, to do the weird fun routes we always dreamed of but never took the time to try. You know, I’ve never ridden to Mt Baldy from home, let’s just pop that into Strava, jump on the bike with a PB&J and your favorite housemate, and… umm, wait, there is how much climbing ALL packed into the last 30 out of 80 miles?! And then your psycho housemate convinces you to climb to the ski resort… that last 5 miles has 3,000ft climbing and takes an hour. Yeah, I may have resorted to walking part of that final pitch to the ‘top’ of Baldy… embarrassing as that is to admit. Or how about the time you map out a ‘killer gravel route’ in Caspers Wilderness because it’s so pretty and no one goes there! Well there’s a reason no one goes there hahaha, and who cares about COVID, you end up lucky to survive the wrath of the housemate who's been pushing her bike up the mile long wall in the hot hot sun for an hour. Sorry Nikki!!!
And how about those Zwift races we did to get a taste of competition that we missed so much? Yeah, how hard can an 8 mile hill climb virtual race be, if it hurts I’ll just back off right? NOOOO, when it hurts you end up digging deeper, rocking the bike violently on your sketchy trainer pushing as hard as you can to stay ahead of that one girl, even though you got dropped at the start because you didn’t know every Zwift race starts with an all out sprint. Oh yeah, and it’s 80 degrees and still on your deck outside, but you are doing a virtual race because there are no in person races.
And if you were really lucky like I was you had the opportunity to relocate during the last 12 months. The chance to change your entire setting, and to open an almost endless number of routes and new roads to explore. I’ve never been more grateful for the timing the universe handed us when my husband Brendan got laid off in 2018 and the baby in August 2019 meant moving closer to the grandparents was the only logical option. If you relocated it was like getting a fresh start on solo pandemic miles, soaking in new sights, making new routes on Strava, and dreaming of possibilities.
In short there were many adventures over the last year, adventures that never took us more than 100 miles from home, but that challenged us and shaped the athlete we were/are. It showed us that adventure is there if you seek it. You will find it, in many forms.
Larissa is a 2 × leadville100 winner, BWR winner, and rides for Voler Factory Gravel Team.
Comments will be approved before showing up.