Mario's Quarantine Diary, Day 9: Cycling through the uncertainty

Quarantined Tri-City News journalist Mario Bartel is working from home due to COVID-19 but the lifelong, dedicated cyclist has also isolated on solo bike rides

Tri-City News journalist Mario Bartel is voluntarily self-isolating and working from home for the rest of the month after his wife and son returned March 13 from a brief getaway in Arizona. He is writing a daily diary during that time.

When the going gets tough, the tough go for a bike ride.

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My wife, son and I are Into our second week of self-isolation and I’m still trying to get out for rides.

It’s pretty much the perfect exercise activity for staying away from people — as long as you avoid congested areas like the seawall in Stanley Park.

I was a self-isolating cyclist long before it became a matter of public health. Long, solo rides to the University of British Columbia and back were my jam. One of my favourite routes in the late 1990s and early 2000s was my “ride for higher learning” that took me up Burnaby Mountain to Simon Fraser University, back down through Burnaby to hook up to 49th Avenue, which would take me past Langara College in Vancouver and onwards to UBC.

Cycling is my salve. It keeps me fit physically and mentally, both of which are vitally important in our current pandemic situation.

Several years ago, in search of new routes, I joined a cycling club. After a lifetime of pedalling on my own, I loved this newfound fellowship on the road, setting up pace lines along Ford Road in Pitt Meadows to help lighten the load, discovering new coffee shops, bakeries and breweries along the way.

Like most cycling clubs, we’ve now suspended group rides. It’s every man and woman for themselves.

Which is fine by me, at least until we’re through this crisis.

The sunshine of the first week of our self-isolation period encouraged me to get out a few times. The burn in my quads as I churned up hills felt good. The breeze through the vents in my helmet as I attacked a descent was invigorating.

Pedalling past construction sites still busy with workers, or past the crowded loading docks of a massive Real Canadian Superstore grocery store along Kent Street in Vancouver, it was easy to forget the troubles that have descended upon us so quickly.

Apparently, others have sought the same solace and solitude. Many of them likely climbing back aboard two wheels for the first time in years, judging by the number of beater bikes with downtube shifters and helmetless riders I saw teetering along various bikeways like the Arbutus corridor and the Central Valley Greenway.

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Miss a day? Catch up here:

Day 8: Lessons from the vegetable crisper

Day 7: Let's do the time warp again

Day 6: The new normal is taking some adjustment by everyone

Day 5: She's fit, she's strong, but she has diabetes which make her vulnerable

Day 4: Trying to contain the fear

Day 3: How much do you tell your kids about COVID-19

Day 2: Doing the right thing at the 25th hour

Day 1: A brief trip means a COVID-19 condo quarantine

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