Saturday, March 14, 2020

Cycling’s Disappearing Calendar

All joking aside, educate yourself about this imminent threat to public health.

Today I watched the final stage of Paris-Nice, compelled by morbid curiosity. Was it the last major bike race of the 2020 season? Is the coronavirus pandemic going to wipe out everything else? I’ve never seen anything like the measures that are being taken right now. And it’s not just cycling. The NBA and NHL seasons are on hold, NASCAR has canceled a couple of races, the start of the Major League Baseball season is being pushed back, and the NCAA basketball tournament will not be held. This is extraordinary stuff, the social and economic impact of which will be huge.

Cycling is getting off relatively easy, given that it doesn’t really generate attendance and concessions income from its fans. Paris-Nice held 7 of its 8 scheduled stages, canceling Sunday’s finale. In that respect it was still a proper stage race, but some riders stayed home or went home early. Some teams stayed away altogether. It wasn’t the race that it should have been, but at least it went on. Cyclingnews now has a running list of races that weren’t so fortunate, and it’s probably going to grow. In a world turned upside down, Australia-based Mitchelton-Scott has replaced actual racing with virtual racing … only temporarily, let’s hope.

Here in Wisconsin, American Bicycle Racing has canceled tomorrow’s criterium in Kenosha and may cancel the crits scheduled for March 22 and March 29. We’re still several weeks away from the WCA, WEMS, Wisport, and WORS season openers. Hopefully they will be spared, but the impact of the epidemic is still expanding. We don’t really know how bad it’s going to get and how long it’s going to last.

Watching Paris-Nice today was the extent of my personal cycling plans for this weekend. I’m picking up 24 hours of overtime at work—12-hour shifts today and tomorrow—so I won’t have a chance to get back on the bike until Monday afternoon. That’s OK; it’s going to be a chilly weekend. I wasn’t sure about this when I wrote last Sunday’s post, but apparently West Bend hit 61° that afternoon, making it our first day in the 60s since October 21. There isn’t another day remotely like that in our current forecast.

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