Pandemic – what a crazy few weeks!
As of today I’m working and training from home with kids to home school, and many ongoing tough business decisions to make. I’ve just had a run in with skin cancer and performed at the world championships to put myself in a position – after training for 7 years – where I was selectable for the Paralympic games. Gutted and relieved- I’m not going to give up on my dream!
What started off as Chinese whispers and the odd person talking about prepping for doomsday, led to talk quickly going bonkers. I started to pay real attention to Coronavirus about 3 weeks ago when Italy started to suffer and the message was of the virus spreading around the world. I remember for the first time worrying about what I was touching at parents evening and starting the whole obsessive hand washing thing. Ever since then, the news has been more like a BBC drama than real life. I have been pretty much addicted to BBC news for the last 3 or 4 weeks now. It still seems surreal – fortunately I still don’t know anyone personally who has suffered from the virus and yet my life has completely changed.
Those who know my story will know that I have lived through some extremely dark and tough times with a couple of recessions. This has given me a feeling of how things might unfold- but wow. This is very different compared to anything before, with the crazy combination of threat to life, loss of civil liberty and economic issues beyond belief.
As the government continues to unfold package after package of support for people and businesses, I knew we would have to make fundamental changes to our business (Money and Mortgages) to get ready for what was to come. I’m proud that we were ready to hit the switch to tell all our staff to work from home on the same the evening that the government recommended that was what we should do. I immediately started working out and deciding with my business partners how to manage and cashflow of a semi-hibernated business while the pandemic unfolds. We continue to monitor business day by day.
It was during a school governors meeting the day after we’d shut down our office that it hit me that we are potentially in this for the long term. It is tough stuff listening to a very professional but upset head teacher talking about closing a school for what might end up being a very long time. The government made the announcement that schools were to close a few days later. The postponing of exams for the year confirmed my expectations that schools are likely to be closed until September and maybe beyond.
From that point on I could see the lockdown coming as could many others in advance of it being announced, so I knew that the Olympics and Paralympics was untenable. I was supposed to be flying to Majorca for a British Cycling Training Camp that same weekend and that was cancelled due to Corona. Instead, the content of the camp was to be run from the UK starting on the Sunday.
We now have 2 kids to home school, ongoing tough business decisions to make and my Paralympic dreams for this year going up in smoke. The Manchester velodrome – our cycling HQ- finally got officially closed to the British Cycling Team on the Saturday night which took the pressure off me slightly. I spoke to my coach on Sunday night and without wanting to sound too negative, I told him that the planned training camp wouldn’t work for me with so much going on and the priority being with staying safe. We agreed that I could manage my own training amongst the chaos of what was going on. Now, a few days into having the kids at home I have found that my wife is an excellent teacher and our whole family is happy. Social distancing is working for us and we are adamant about doing our bit to stop the spread of this terrible virus.
It was on Tuesday when the correct decision was finally made to postpone the Olympics and Paralympics. I was out on my bike when I stopped to read a WhatsApp from my business partner Marc which made me feel both gutted and relieved at the same time. My phone rang shortly after and it was my coach. I told him that I already new the games had been postponed but he was doing the decent thing, calling to make sure I knew and check I was okay and I shared my view that the whole situation feels more like a dream than real life. I have trained for 7 years towards a goal, with some tough twists and turns along the way. I’ve just had a run in with skin cancer and performed at the world championships to put myself in a position where I was selectable for the games. No such luck this time! I told John that I am still going to push on and make sure I am in great shape for when we can start training properly again towards Tokyo 2021.
I’m not going to give up on my dream! Same goes for my business, we survived through the credit crunch and I believe we will come back stronger from this one. The mood at home is very positive with my wife and kids getting in plenty of exercise in the garden and working as hard as ever. I feel like I have my house in order now and my thoughts now are firmly focused on the future and keeping up to date with how things are unfolding with the pandemic. I had a feeling of confidence on my ride today, not just about my progress towards the games, but also work and whatever life throws at me I will handle. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that!
I hope everyone who reads this is safe and well, we are all in this one together so it’s important we all pull together and support one another.
Thanks for reading, Jon