How do adventure cyclists cope during a pandemic?
When the Corona pandemic started to become "real" and we all realized that Covid-19 would soon be at our doorsteps, the world of adventurers, bicycle tourers and bikepackers changed overnight. Borders were closing, flights were being cancelled, and plans for upcoming trips had to change in an instant. We reached out to the Adventure Team to make sure they were doing OK, and offered to publish their words talking about what they were doing yesterday when this all came on, how they are coping today, and what they are doing to prepare for tomorrow.
Ana Zamorano Ruiz
Ana has been a world traveller for a long time (check @RemoteAna on Instagram), and since joining the adventure team has has travelled throughout the Caucasus on her Outback. She was in the middle of planning her next tour when the virus struck Spain in a big way.
Where are you now?
I am in my village which is situated next to Bilbao, in The Basque Country. I have been here since I came back from The Caucasus. That was because of a big project I have to work on via online and due to the winter in Central Asia; good wifi, good food and better company. Anyway, I was actually looking at flights to start crossing Asia when the virus came up and countries like Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan started closing their borders.
I changed plans after that and thought about riding Alaska- Alberta starting in early June and then spend winter time in Canada to improve my French and ski a bit, but again the virus arrived in Spain and started hitting the country in a ridiculous way. Things are calming down very slowly and if I am honest, I do not know if I will be able to ride outside Spain this season. The borders are still closed and it is very uncertain situation. Anyway, we also have plenty of gorgeous and diverse landscapes in Northern Spain; European Peaks, the Pyrenees and Trans- Euskal Herria, where I am from. It is going to be different, but still fun!
How are you doing?
Even though the World is facing a critical situation and nobody knows how to handle it, I feel good. That’s true I sometimes feel sad seeing how some people are suffering or when I talk to some families I met on my way in South America or Iran, for example. People who don’t have any savings, any help from their Governments etc.
It is a great time to look at ourselves of what we were doing, how fast we were living –even though we were traveling, we always make a lot of plans, seek for new stuff etc.-, to look at the nature itself (she is recovering super-fast and we are seeing some wild animals in places we could not ever imagined!), help our old neighbors and people in disadvantage situations.
What are your local restrictions?
We cannot get out from home unless we need to go to the supermarket or have a dog that needs a walk. We cannot practice any outdoors either. But I am pretty lucky because I live in a house and have a garden, and also a dog that can walk but, only 150 meters away from my door. Crazy, isn’t it?
Do you know anyone who has been sick?
Yes, I do. I know a few cases, and one of them really surprised me. It is a case of a very sportive young man from my area; he rides a lot, runs a lot, triathlons, duathlons etc. and he suffered a lot for three weeks. It seemed the virus does not understand about age and health. He is recovered now so that is great!
What are you doing to keep your spirits up?
That’s a good question. A lot of yoga teachers are doing some free yoga classes everyday on Instagram, and also a lot of film makers opened their adventure films to the World. This absolutely has given me even more motivation to start exploring as soon as I will be able to. I also bought the Central Asian map and checked the places, mountain ranges and passes I would love to cross –hopefully- sooner than later.
The worst thing about this is that I am discovering new places I want to go and this can be the never-ending journey! haha
Have you learned something unexpected since this all started?
I am actually doing almost a normal life. That is true I miss outdoors a lot, go riding in the afternoon or weekends or even have a walk in the mountains next to mine. I work online and I am actually spending more time at the laptop that normally. Also got back to drawing, playing ukulele and it is becoming the perfect time to finish the edition of the documentaries I filmed in South America.
What message would you like to communicate to others in a similar situation to you who might be having a hard time?
The bike itself has given me a lot but, patience could be one of the top ones. To be patient, to be calm and to feel every moment. That’s true this situation was not planned, but far from that we need to accept every moment and learn from them. At least we have accommodation, food, legs to rest and bikes to clean! :P
Nacho has been riding with his partner Simon Mendizabal under their 260 Litros project (find them at @260Litros on Instagram). Originally from Spain, they were in the middle of traversing South America - biking, rafting, (and bikerafting!) his Outback northward towards Alaska. Today Nacho is in lockdown in Ecuador, keeping himself safe and healthy, but also helping the community by participating in humanitarian efforts to bring aid, food, and supplies to the most desperate rural residents outside Qito.
Where are you now?
It is just unbelievable, after 3 years traveling around South America, who was going to think that we’ll be living our current situation?? Just a couple of months ago we were jumping in our loaded bikes going through one of the most incredible countries we have been to and know we are locked down in our home trying to do our best. Ecuador was just blowing our minds with its incredible volcanoes, mountains and lovely people when this movie or TV serie started. We were in Quito by the time the quarantine started and we are still here, trying to hold up as best as we can with one the worst situations that any country in the world have had to gone through.
How are you doing?
Trying to keep busy and strong might seem easy for some, but when you are in a country where everyday the situation gets worse and the restrictions are stronger, it is hard to be all day in a full lockdown keeping your mind and soul sane with only being allowed to go out to buy food. We had tones of new plans for this upcoming year, building a new business, ultra distance races, local races, but now we’ve had to pospone all this things and just be focused on being healthy to achieve all this goals in a future.
What are things like in Qito?
Ecuador is living a hard time, we are in a full lockdown(somedays I feel I get lost inside my fridge), cars are restricted on weekends and during the week they made a system to let only some be able to ride each day of the week, everyday, after 2pm and until 5am no-one is allowed to be on the streets, it feels super weird not to hear the typical noises of a busy capital in the street, but we have to move on and keep on pushing ourselves.
Has your outlook changed since this started?
It is not all dark as it seems in my last paragraphs, we have to try and look for the bright side of this situation and not just by thinking on that the world is taking a breath from the worst plague, us the humans but also that we are having a chance to cultivate ourselves, grow, improve in what we do and be better persons for what is to come. This is a unique opportunity that not many people had in the past and that we have to take advantage of, so use it for whatever you need to, but don’t miss this opportunity, have in mind, and believe that this is going to end someday and that we are going to come out of this stronger than ever!
“Well be living in a new world with brighter skies, stunning sunsets and incredible trails which waiting for us out there, we can’t waste this opportunity”