by Kieran Andrews
Monday. A Monday in late March 2020. Our world seemed to have stopped as we raced to understand the challenges of Covid-19. There was still a bit of snow around and cold wind was blowing from the north. But this is not a Covid-19 story. This is a story of searching for and finding solace in a disconcerting time.
Typically, spring is a time of travel and planning. Cycling in Europe with clients while preparing myself for a season of races and events has been the flow of March and April for me for years. But not this year. With planes grounded and all events canceled I found myself, like so many people, at a loss. As I have done for so much of my life my natural response was to hop on my bike and go for a ride. A long one.
This is the moment when things began to change for me. With cafes closed and stores shuttered a self-sufficient approach was in order. I packed up some peanut-butter/tortilla roll-ups and a couple of litres of water into a Camelbak and made for the door. Just as I was walking out it occurred to me that if I had no intention of stopping then I could plan a route that strayed farther afield. I quickly hung up my road bike, checked the tires on my gravel bike then stuffed a few more things into my Camelbak. That was the day that I connected the idea of forest therapy with cycling.
What began as a single ride turned into a weekly adventure. Mondays became the time that I reconnected with myself, reminded myself how lucky I am to live where I do… and to get some forest therapy.
As the season went on and our world opened up a little bit I started sharing the routes I had been riding with friends. Gravel roads, ATV trails and mountain bike trails were all in the mix. The more we talked and rode, the farther we wanted to go so we pushed these rides into over-nights and more.
One day we will be able to travel and race bikes again, but I am not so sure that I will be rushing to get “back to normal”. I have learned to love big local adventures. I have come to appreciate having intimate knowledge of the forest tracks and little-known routes of the Kawarthas. There is a peace here that is absent in much of the world. More than ever I just want to go out my door and ride my bike.
The First Monday - https://www.strava.com/routes/28106168
Kieran rides a Cervelo Aspero equipped with Shimano GRX components.
For more stories, routes and inspiration follow Kieran on Strava and Instagram: @kieranwro