Boxsets, bangers and braking: Diary of a quarantined cyclist

Jacopo Guarnieri is a WorldTour rider for Groupama-FDJ and columnist. Based in a town 100 kilometres south of the Italian city of Milan, he is documenting his experience since quarantine began on March 8.

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March 27
It is now 20 days since the quarantine began in Italy and at least 14 since I stopped training outside on the road. The situation is constantly evolving and, in general, not improving.

In Lombardy, a region very close to where I live, the death toll is huge and they are running out of places for intensive care. Staying focused on yourself, on your family, at this moment isn’t easy and in a moment, feelings of guilt for so much selfishness can start. Yet it is not about being cold-minded – just survival.

Jacopo Guarnier

It is difficult, really difficult for everyone currently, without an end to this quarantine. But keeping our focus on what makes us feel good, whether it is the well-being of ourselves, the family or work is just necessary to get to the next day.

Up to now, I thought I was in a tiny happy island, so I managed to remain calm and relaxed. But like every cyclist, I hate being indoors – we are wild animals, we have to breath outside, to put our noses in the wind.

Living in the countryside and having a garden helps, at least. When I get up in the morning, I can see the hills around me, not buildings. No cars go by and I can hear the chatter of birds or gusts of wind. It may seem very little, and maybe in normal moments it is, but now, as a hermit, it’s everything to me.

I am taking these weeks as a sort of holiday, as if it was November in advance. In my excessively-optimistic mind, the races will start again in June.* I will have two months to prepare myself better, so I limit myself to a little activity every day – and I’m not exaggerating.

Jacopo Guarnieri

On alternate days, it’s home trainer, gym, a walk with the dog (always around the house, I can’t go far). At the moment I prefer to take my foot off the accelerator: whatever happens, it will be a difficult year. Either because we will have many races concentrated in too few months – or because there will be no races at all. Better to brake, slow down, don’t be frantic and do too much. It’s never been so necessary.

I made a specific braking playlist – you can listen here. At 10pm, I turn off almost all the lights, put my phone on silent, make myself comfortable and listen to it with a tea or glass of wine.

I am finding a sort of routine in my days. When I have my daughter with me, I spend the morning with her and I do exercises at home during her afternoon nap. (But not too hard. I have to hold my breath, I don’t want to wake her up.)

Jacopo Guarnieri

Otherwise, when alone, I can ride on the home trainer. I am reading a lot; I will be a little human Wikipedia by the end of the month. I’m trying new recipes in the kitchen, even if it’s always unhealthy, fatty ones. Yesterday I managed to prepare caramel and salted buttercream, yay!). I will get to the end of Friends soon, but, thank God, I’ve got all of Scrubs waiting for me on DVD.

I also started doing home DJ sets. At this moment a proper DJ is probably having a heart attack reading that, but it’s nothing special, ok? That’s the point: I have to survive, I don’t have the ambition to get out of this as a better person, I just want to get out of it. In this period, I’m already training my calm and my balance; all the rest can wait a bit longer.

*I know it’s totally unrealistic we will be back at racing in June, even more so given that the Olympics have been postponed. And it’s in August. But a hope can be a lie sometimes.

Jacopo’s past entries
March 13: The waiting game – reflections on the UAE Tour and life under quarantine
March 20: Training in a deserted world

Read more Rouleur articles by Groupama-FDJ pro cyclist Jacopo Guarnieri’s here

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