From prepping for the Enduro World Championship opener, Steve - like everyone else - is now on Coronavirus lockdown and wondering when normality will return…

I guess this month’s column could be summed up in one word - Coronavirus. Writing this from my home in Devon, I’m on lockdown like everyone else and you can’t help but think and wonder what’s happening to the world right now.

No doubt we are in some very serious and scary times with no real time scale on when normality will return.

I guess one week into lockdown and my withdrawals from riding my dirt bike are beginning to take their toll. It’s hard not riding when you’re injured, but even more so when you’re fit as a fiddle and told you simply can’t.

But ultimately, ‘fit as a fiddle’ is key to that last that sentence. And as much as I’m already climbing the walls at home, I’ve got my health, which in these times of crisis is ultimately my wealth.

Fleeing Italy

Having been in Italy last month I got a very real understanding to what coronavirus COVID-19 is about. Italy, which has become a second home to me, was both wrestling with and failing to keep this thing at bay.

Although I was out of the red zones, the pandemic was real. Hospitals and emergency services were stretched to breaking point trying to beat back the flames and figure out how to handle it all.

And while it was time for me to head home to the UK, it was quite obvious it was also going to follow. Now, my thoughts are first and foremost with those on the front line.

Off-season mode engaged

With no bike to ride for the foreseeable and no races to go to either, it’s all a bit strange. I’ve gone from building towards round one of the world championships, to simply not knowing when we’ll race, or worst-case scenario, if we’ll race this year.

Pre-season training has flipped back into off-season mode. My day-to-day objective is to keep myself ticking over. There’s not too much point in trying to train as normal with no date of when we’ll be racing again.

The opening two rounds of EnduroGP in Portugal and Spain are postponed, leaving the GP of Italy in early June next. Understandably, chances are low for Italy to happen. Talk is that the racing calendar will run deep into December, so if I don’t turn things down to idle mode now then I’m going to burnout before anything gets going.

Power hours and YouTube yoga

With one daily outdoor exercise allowed my suggestion for anyone wanting to maintain fitness and mental wellbeing is keep active. Use that power-hour to blast out a brisk walk or take a spin on the bicycle.

It’ll turn the legs, pump the heart and lungs and freshen the mind. It’s not a time for physical gains, just an opportunity to gain some clarity.

I’m also getting into my self-help yoga too. YouTube is a good place to go for that and there’s stacks of tutorial classes there to help you work on core strength and flexibility.

Yoga isn’t normally a go-to thing for me, so lockdown is proving a good opportunity to try something new. Beats pushing the lawnmower round, that’s for sure!

There’s definitely a lot of things you can do to keep both body and mind busy during these times, but I think the most important piece of advice I can offer is simply to relax as much as possible.

So, until next month, stay safe and look after your loved ones and keep supporting our front-line medical heroes. Oh, and keep washing your hands!

Hospital heroes

The hospitals, nurses, doctors and all of the National Health Service staff here in the UK who are tackling this day in and day out are true heroes, as are all health professionals around the world. While we sometimes like to think we put ourselves on the line riding dirt bikes for a living, they really are putting it all on the line to care for us.

That reality is what makes it easier for me to step back from worrying about my everyday life. While racing enduro is my profession, it’s still also my hobby at the end of that day I do it for fun. 14-hour shifts on a hospital floor can’t be much fun right now.

So, to anyone thinking about sneaking out for a cheeky spin – DON’T. Leave your bike in the shed because you certainly don’t need to be listening to yourself trying to explain why you’re in A&E after you busted yourself up riding a dirt bike.

Stay safe.