Innovation is the order of the day in cycling circles as the riders are trying to keep fit and sharp during the national Lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 virus.
Corne Bence, president of Cycling Western Cape, said he welcomes the window period of 3 hours between 6 and 9 am in which cyclists can go ride on the road. This is allowed since the government announced the Lockdown has been downgraded from Level 5 to 4.
During Level 5 cyclists had to train at home on home training equipment but now they are free to train within a 5 km radius from their homes. Corne says the home training kept the cyclists busy and active and lots of them also joined Zwift – an online virtual cycling game, with different worlds to ride around, group riders to join, workouts and training plans to complete, and even races to be won and lost.
Corne explains it is a new way of training and that the Cinetic Club from Cape Town set up competitions on Zwift with different categories, like King of the Mountain and Sprint, and they keep data and records of it. He says the cyclists challenge each other on Zwift and it is a good way of keeping them competitive.They are also making use of the opportunity to go on the road now and the message from Cycling WC is that all cyclists should adhere to the Lockdown rules and regulations.
About 95% of cyclists are in good standing and obey the rules but they are still receiving complaints and criticism from people about the behaviour of some riders. Corne explains those misbehaving are fun riders, who are not high-performance athletes and who are not serious about cycling and says they will act against registered riders who are not sticking to the rules.
Cycling South Africa’s track director Elrick Kulsen has also been tasked with keeping the Western Cape riders up to date with regard to training programs and keeping them up to the required fitness levels.Corne says based on the information and data they receive from the cyclists it seems they are on a reasonably high level of fitness, but they definitely are not top fit. That is why Zwift has been brought in to give attention to the racing aspect too.
The president says he was expecting cycling to only start getting back to competitions in September or October. If it happens earlier, it would be a bonus. Cycling SA submitted a proposal to the Minister of Sport mapping out the road ahead and explaining how they can adapt to different scenarios.
At a Skype meeting with different event organisers it was concluded that cycling can go ahead when Lockdown moves to Level 3 with strict conditions and regulations in place. At this stage, however, it seems competition would only resume in December, added Corne.
Event organisers are prepared to do scanning and screening of all participants, including officials. The plan is also to limit the field to 50 participants at first to ease cycling back into competition.Corne says cycling as a sport was suffering huge financial losses at the moment because they are not earning levies and registration fees and they still have the regular expenses. They are hoping government could assist them financially.
Cycling Western Cape received financial assistance from the Lotto recently and therefore does not qualify for government assistance, but the provincial body applied to government on behalf of the Districts. Corne says now it is a matter of hoping for the best, as they are awaiting an answer.