Savannah Morgan and five other cyclists are keeping rider journals for The British Continental this season. The 20-year-old began her second season in Belgium this year, riding for the Isorex NoAqua team. This is Savannah’s fourth journal entry…
For a rider like me who has been unable to secure funding for the past two years, I’m not sure I’m able to go through another winter of working endlessly to be able to fund my season
Welcome to my Isolation Stage Race 2020. It ain’t a grand tour that’s for sure but welcome to the five stages of how my life’s flipped and how I’m coping mentally. Just a small disclaimer: I know there’s a lot of major things happening and cycling is minuscule in comparison but there’s enough about the other stuff on the news!
Prologue – the mad dash
A full gas, all-or-nothing approach. Similar to the way I set about packing when I was leaving Belgium. I was slightly optimistic mid-March. I thought I’d be coming back for racing within a couple of weeks. I threw half my clothes into my suitcase (which I’m now regretting as I miss everything I’ve left), grabbed my race bike and within 16 hours was on a grubby P&O ferry to Dover. I rushed to leave and didn’t give myself much time to process, which I’m thankful for as now I know I made the right choice to come back when I did.
Stage difficulty level: 2/10
Stage one – an unusual lack of action
First full stage of the ‘race’. Unsure what to expect and going into the unknown. I was lucky to be able to spend some time in London before heading back up north. By far the best decision I made as now miss having the freedom to do that. At this point, I started to realise the reality of this pandemic, something I was reluctant to do. Riding through central London with very little traffic and very few people was something quite absurd. This was when I realised things weren’t normal. All this was confirmed when I headed back up to St Helens and the M6 was virtually deserted – at rush hour – something I’ve only ever experienced before at 4 am. I got back home and settled back into family life, which I didn’t think I’d be doing until September.
Stage difficulty level: 4/10
Stage two – a marked woman
You know those races where every move is covered and you constantly feel like you’re being watched? That’s very similar to lockdown. Stuck inside and when you do go out you feel like everyone’s watching you or questioning why you’re out. This is more of an undulating stage in terms of my emotions. I’ve found it really hard. My whole year was mapped out and now I feel it’s been stolen. I love organisation and structure so the uncertainty at this point has sent me spiralling into something I’ve never experienced before. I’m training (solo, of course) and trying to keep myself busy doing core work and painting my nails. But I’m starting to run out of things to do.
Stage difficulty level: 8/10
Stage three – classic boring flat day, steadily downhill
Similar to one of the long stages on the Tour De France, those 200km+ stages which take all day which tends to be pretty boring and not very entertaining. I am bored. Oh my, I’m bored.
I’ve been training a lot but I’m constantly asking myself what I’m training for
Searching for things to do is getting monotonous, so much so that I’ve resorted to colouring. A lot of people recommend it to help with anxiety, although it can be frustrating when your pencils snap every two minutes. It’s been a mundane few weeks. I’ve been training a lot but I’m constantly asking myself what I’m training for. Races continue to postponed, leaving me to question if we will even have a season at all. Three weeks into lockdown and still a long way to go.
Stage difficulty level: 6/10
Stage four – the Queen Stage, reaching the peak
Everything’s cancelled. I mean not everything but it’s looking that way. In terms of cycling, major events such as the Tour have been postponed and the idea of cramming three Grand Tours and around six monuments from between the end of August and October seems like a task and a half. Especially for the riders and team staff. If this all does go ahead, however, it may be one of the most remarkable years in cycling to date?
We are all in the same boat and there’s nothing us riders can actually do about it, except keep our motivation high
But what about the women? Unsurprisingly they’ve been left out to dry. No WWT calendar updates and they’ve been pretty much told to wait and see. For a rider oat my level, a lot of the summer UCI races have already been cancelled and we are still waiting for full confirmation on kermesses. At the moment they will begin again in July but I see that as extremely unlikely as mass gatherings in Belgium are banned until August 31st. Luckily we are all in the same boat and there’s nothing us riders can actually do about it, except keep our motivation high and train.
Stage difficulty level: 5/10
Stage five – the uncertain finale
I had put a bit of pressure on myself that this season would be my decisive year. For a rider like me who has been unable to secure funding for the past two years, I’m not sure I’m able to go through another winter of working endlessly to be able to fund my season. Having the belief in myself to do it for another year is very hard when it seems everything keeps going wrong. I wanted this year to be a step up and a good year for learning and actually getting results in the bigger races before my last year as an under-23. While there’s a lot more going on in the world, this is a major hit for me and something which over the next few months the decisions I make will shape my life for the next few years.
Stage difficulty level: 9/10
I hope this was a useful insight into what I have experienced these past few weeks, as well as the uncertainty about what lays in store for me – and other riders like me – in the weeks and months ahead.
Thank you for reading and I hope you are all staying safe and healthy!
Featured photo: Savannah Morgan
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