One of the upsides of the COVID-19 pandemic is a boom in outdoor recreation. Activities such as hiking, cycling, boating, fishing, camping, picnicking, and winter activities (skiing, snow shoeing, snowboarding, tobogganing) have seen increased interest. Participation in outdoor recreation usually hovers around 50% of the population, but last year it increased to 69%. As stay-at-home restrictions have relaxed, many people discovered that outdoor pursuits are an appealing response to living with COVID-19. The desire to focus on health and wellness and make the best of these trying times has resulted in more people getting outside to play.
The bike touring company Ciclismo Classico, which is based in Arlington, MA but considers the world its home, had to cancel all its European tours this year. But trying to salvage a bike touring season, they sponsored bike tours late summer following all the latest COVID-19 protocols, not to their signature destinations in Italy and Ireland, but in the Finger Lakes of New York and also Southern New Hampshire. This allowed adventure seekers to drive to the start and bike routes consisting of loops, out and back, so that they would be near their car at the end of the trip. These “close to home” tours were able to satisfy participants yearning for new experiences, outdoor activity, and camaraderie.
During this year of disruptions most of us have spent more time than usual avoiding other people and forgoing our favorite activities. It might be comforting this holiday season to reach out to our business associates, friends and family with a holiday card. In this age of social media, texting, and email, a physical holiday card with a newsletter or hand written message might be welcome. If you have been the recipient of bad holiday newsletters in the past you might think a newsletter is the last thing you want to do, but a newsletter or hand written message tucked into a beautiful card would probably be most welcome this year. Even if the newsletter is obviously sent to others, people will feel more connected to you just for received your special news. Just the act of mailing a holiday card signals that you took the time to think of them and create a bond during the holidays. The addition of a message makes it personal.
If you want to extend your biking season into the colder months, what gear should you have? What is the best type of bicycle to ride in the cold? How do you talk yourself into rolling out when the weather is not sunny, warm and dry? These topics and more were covered at the Nov. 10 virtual Zoom Chicago Cycling Club meeting. Panel members that shared their insights were Charlie Sax, Dave Barish, and Melanie Shaw.
The pandemic has changed life as we know it for everyone, from children to seniors, and everyone in between. With limitations on the size of gatherings and face to face interaction many organizations with a social service mission have had to change the way they operate. At the September 15 Evanston Bike Club (EBC) meeting three organizations that also happen to be EBC grant recipients provided an update on adjustments they’ve made to their programs in light of COVID-19.
“Best Tour de France ever.” - George Hincapie, Veteran Tour de France racer
We knew the 2020 version of the Tour de France was going to be different due to the pandemic. The race started 9 weeks later than originally planned, there were strict limits on interactions between fans, staff, and teams and the race was wide open during the first six or so stages with the winner being predicted from six contenders. A likely winner rose up, but pundits were blown away by the surprising upset during the next to the last stage of the race.
In the second week of racing the 2020 Tour de France headed west in the Charente-Maritime département before heading across France to the Alps, visiting the Jura and Massif Central in the process.
The second week of racing saw team tactics change. Teams start out with hope and as it becomes clear they cannot win the overall race, the strategy changes to trying for stage wins.
The first week of the three week Tour de France is on the record books now and we have settled into a familiar groove with a little excitement thrown in.
The race started out in Nice and due to wet weather and nerves among the riders, there were a lot of crashes taking out some contenders before the race got very far. The three lap format enabled riders the first chance to really to size up the competition and fans to begin picking their favorites.
The second stage started and returned back to Nice with a mountain stage in between. It is unusual to have climbing so early in the event. We got to see a favorite from last year attack, Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, which made for some thrilling racing and allowed him to capture his first yellow jersey of the year.
The next stages rotated from flats suited for the sprinters to mountain suited to the climbers. The first summit finish on stage 4 identified the likely contenders, but everyone has a different list of who that might be, so this just means that the race is currently wide open with no clear favorite. Of course, even when there is a strong team and a favorite, there is always the chance of a surprise result due to the risk of crashing, injury, illness, crosswinds, and weather--anything can happen in the Tour de France. Two more weeks of fun.
Long live the Tour de France! The 2020 version of the world’s greatest cycling event is later in the calendar this year, but it is still taking place--at least the initial stages. The 107th edition of this grand tour is steeped in tradition, but this year some things will be different and some things will still be the same.
The fact that Tracy and Peter Flucke bicycled across the country on a tandem 4,362 miles is amazing. What enhances their recounting of the adventure is their willingness to share all the details, from why they decided to do it, how they trained, the bicycle equipment, a day by day log of the cycling conditions and destinations, people they met along the way including some heartwarming acts of kindness towards them, and personal challenges and triumphs. All of these are documented in their book, Coast to Coast on a Tandem. They provided highlights as guest speakers at the Evanston Bicycle Club meeting on Tues. Aug. 18, 2020.
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories