Last week, New Zealand announced that it would be lifting some of the strict measures implemented by its government to curb the Covid-19 pandemic – considered to be among the most aggressive quarantine mandates anywhere. It’s great news for the Kiwis, who have been in full lockdown for weeks, but the measures have limited the island nation’s Covid death toll to just 19.
We sat down (at a safe distance, thanks to the Internet) with Norco Factory DH rider Sam Blenkinsop to discuss his altered reality as a pro rider and new parent during these extreme measures, and he showed us that, no matter who you are – we’re all Alone. Together.
“Before Covid, I’d typically wake up, go to the gym, have lunch, then head out for some interval training or a trail ride, and then hang out with my daughter and wife in the afternoon. Not a lot has actually changed to be honest. Apart from gyming at home.” he explained of his new reality.
“I was really hoping to get back on the box (podium) and be constantly in the top ten at World Cups this year, and I always love to win. Also, I wanted to win the overall for Crankworx again.”
With a cancelled race roster and strict New Zealand Covid-19 protocol, however, those plans ground to a halt.
“Level 4 lockdown for us is limited to essential travel only and an order to stay in your local area. You cannot drive to places to go biking, so riding has to happen locally.” he explained, while describing his altered training regimen.
“I’ve set up a home gym, and I’m still working out daily, mixing it up with light and heavy work. Luckily, I’m still able to ride, as I live close to the hills/trails, but I’m not riding any downhill. Just easy rides and lots of road rides in the hills and just keeping my distance from others who are out riding and exercising.
“You need to know your limits and not be silly, as you don’t want to injure yourself and waste the time for the first responders and medical staff.”
Some of his biggest passions have had to fall by the wayside, however.
“I miss my favourite café where I get this yummy slice, and I miss fishing. In New Zealand, we’re on Lockdown 4, so fishing is a no-go, and I really miss it. Hopefully, when we go to Lockdown 3, I can get back out there.
“I also miss going to the BMX track – I’d usually go once a week, but I’ve had to change it up by doing a circuit at home instead. Also – not being able to do shuttle downhill – so I’m doing longer rides or going out on the e-bike and doing runs instead.”
Apart from training and riding, as a new dad, Sam has been able to channel some of his energy and attention to his family – which he really seems to have taken to.
“Right now, I’m really so thankful to have my family with me. Waking up every day to my wife and daughter is the happiest thing for me. It also feels that my daughter is keeping me sane – it is exciting watching her grow and she is nearly walking on her own, so being home right now is amazing!”
And, somehow, Sam’s found a way to incorporate his family into his fitness routine:
“It’s also great, because I just discovered that I can use my wife as a squat bar!”