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After winning a bronze medal at the Track Cycling World Cup early in the year PCC Athlete Amiel Flett-Brown had big plans for road and track racing in 2020, but COVID-19 put a stop to all that.

It’s taken me a little longer to put together a few thoughts on how things have changed since the pandemic hit, and the unprecedented changes that we’re all experiencing. I feel grateful to be working with coach Houshang and Cycling Canada as we make changes and manage through these challenging times.

Amiel – far right – with his Team Pursuit bronze medal team at the Track Cycling World Cup. Photo by Canadian Cyclist.

I arrived back from the Track World Cup in Milton at the end of January and was about to start my first season with Cycling Canada on the track development program when the coronavirus was starting to make news. As it was things were changing in my program and we weren’t sure initially how this would impact the programming.

We’d been planning a trip to Peru for the Pan American Championships and travel to the US and Europe for track and road racing. It wasn’t long before we realized that these plans would be put on hold and we had to adapt our training. Houshang took it in stride and shifted the program organically to meet these new challenges.

Because I’d been training and racing around Team Pursuit, which had been new to me and an incredible experience training during this period had been all about speed and power so I had lost a lot of endurance. When I arrived back the plan was to work on endurance to prepare for the Pan American races as well as getting ready for the road season. With the pandemic, it shifted from race preparation to building on a level of fitness that we might not have otherwise been able to string together. Racing has a more stochastic nature: it’s harder to predict the outcome in terms of gaining fitness but with this window of time, we’ve been able to adjust to what has become an extended training camp. There is no question at times that keeping motivated is hard and racing keeps you on your feet, but training can be a slog so I’ve had to adjust things, including my perspective and expectations.

I’m also listening to my physiology in a different way and learning things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. For example learning about perseverance without the motivation of racing with others. There are no race results or employing a race strategy (one of the things I love the most about racing) so it’s up to me to respond to the training plan without that external motivation. In a way, it brings me back to my roots and my love of riding by the water, through the mountains, alongside a trotting coyote and hopefully not bears! And yet I’m pushing myself in ways that I haven’t had the opportunity to in past, because the racing schedules have been so tight.

It’s not been without stress. I get anxious about being out on the road, about what might happen if I crashed and not wanting to over burden the healthcare system during these unprecedented times, about riding in and through a busy city, over bridges where we’re all panting and most are not using masks, or someone spitting a little too close for comfort. There is a lot to navigate but overall we’re making the best of it and to my surprise I’ve had a number of PB’s. I am incredibly appreciative of my cycling community, Cycling Canada workshops, and Houshang’s support and years of wisdom, getting us through this time.