While most of us are experiencing disruption to our regular riding routines, elite athletes are facing great uncertainty around training, travel and racing, all potential threats to their livelihoods and ultimately to their identity as professional cyclists.
We are continuing our commitment to the art and performance of cycling by bringing you some stories directly from our MAAP athletes, on how they are training, staying motivated, staying connected and sharing advice on how they are adapting to the demands of training during social distancing restrictions.
An integral part of the MAAP CX Team for several seasons now, Fiona Morris was gearing up for the start of the Australian Cyclocross season, which is currently in jeopardy.
Having recently dealt with the bushfires that surrounded her home town of Bright in Victoria, she now finds herself juggling life as an athlete, running her own Marketing Automation agency and also working as a cycling performance coach.
What impact has the coronavirus had on you and your racing?
It is pretty obvious that we won’t have a CX season this year, so my immediate goal of winning a National Series CX race is off the table. Instead, I will now have the luxury of time to work harder on some of my process goals which will, in essence, help me achieve my larger goal.
I’m missing the anticipation that comes with an approaching race season; the excitement of the team, teammates, racing, travel. So next year should be twice as exciting.
We have a huge variety of where and what to ride in the High Country, so I have just been enjoying whatever bike I feel like riding, road, MTB, gravel. With no racing on the cards, there is no reason to train high intensity, which is what I would normally be doing at this time of the year, so instead, I’m focused on those base miles and endurance sessions, so mixing it up makes it a lot more fun.
I have a few favourite podcasts so I wait until I’m riding some gravel, away from cars, and listen to a podcast. It gets me excited to head out the door. It's also great for long trainer sessions too... before you know it the first hour is up and then the second... and suddenly your session is done!
How have you adapted to training under new social distancing regulations?
We are currently allowed to ride outside, however our local group ride made a collective decision to call it quits last week. Although I’m lucky I have a live-in training buddy, Garry, so I do have someone I can ride with. But it’s a fine line living, working and training together so sometimes we ride at different times of the day to just give ourselves some alone time.
We have also just started a “race” with all the people normally on our local group ride using our GPS data.
We have set some courses and there is everything from time trials, to hill climbs, to mountain biking courses and then everyone rides it on their own. We will have a winner of each “stage” and an overall winner. It’s just a bit of fun but will keep the motivation and morale high, keeping us all connected.
I still have a business to run, and it’s been really busy at the moment, which I am incredibly thankful for as it’s one less thing to worry about. So I have been putting a lot of time and energy into that. Some days my mind is probably over engaged and I have to remember to take a break and do something else.
How are you staying connected with teammates and friends during this time?
Our team of 4 riders is pretty tight, or so I like to think. We live all over Australia so are used to being spread out, we have a group chat and keep up to date on instagram. As for the cycling community, our local group has a Facebook page which is where our “race” is being run from, not to mention the group chats which are always a laugh. So that should help to keep us engaged and connected.
Not being able to finish our training rides at the local cafe is hard. If I am honest, the only thing I have 'panic-purchased' has been coffee beans! But my local roaster, Sixpence Coffee is still roasting and does online orders and he will be organising a local delivery where he will drop off to our doorstep! And I have a Moccamaster so my coffee situation is sorted!
Take us through your adapted week of training during COVID-19.
We are currently allowed to ride outside, however our local group ride made a collective decision to call it quits last week. I’m lucky I have a live-in training buddy in my husband Garry, so unlike most people I do have someone I can ride with. But it’s a fine line living, working and training together... so sometimes we ride at different times of the day to just give ourselves some alone time.
He's an example of my current week plan, while I can still ride outside. If you’re only on the trainer then go for a shorter time frame as the trainer is more physically taxing as you never really freewheel, 25-30% less is about the sweet spot.
Monday – In the morning I get in a 1-1.5hr recovery ride on Zwift, staying in those middle zones. Follow this with a gym session, concentrating on leg strength and core work.
Tuesday – Steady solo ride, if you're able get outdoors, try to aim for 3-5hr, today is about building on your base. In the afternoon I will do some stretching to work on the flexibility, yoga is a really good option, there are lots of workouts on YouTube if you're just getting started.
Wednesday – The team all joins a Zwift session together, with intervals set by Kurt, where we each push each other and stay accountable. The afternoon is dedicated to nutrition planning for the next week with Hexis.
Thursday – Today is about solo sprint training, head out on a 2-3hr ride and get some sprint intervals in. I find picking a pretend finish line really important, making sure to push yourself as hard all the way to the line, to replicate those real life situations in racing. In the afternoon I like to get another gym session in, focussing on the core.
Friday – With no racing and no particular goals at the moment, I like to give my self a full rest day, which actually means no riding for me at the moment.
Saturday – While I can safely get out, I'll continue to do my solo endurance rides, focussing on those base kilometers, with a few intervals thrown in to get some intensity in. If you're indoor, look at cutting down your normal 5-6hr ride back to 2.5-3hrs as the trainer means you'll spend less time coasting.
Sunday – Zwift race day, I like to back up the endurance sessions on Sat with some race simulation on Sunday. A zwift race is a good way to ensure you don't settle into your own comfort zone while on the trainer. These races are getting more and more difficult with the increase in people training indoors, which only improves these sessions.
How can people follow your training and racing?