Back to Normality: A New Challenge

We can say that 2020 and even part of 2021 have been an unprecedented ride. From suddenly stopping our daily activities to having to adapt to a new reality, and let’s be honest, it was more than one time that we have to go back to our home because we forgot to put on the mask, and simple things such as a face to face “hello” turned into a “can you hear me” on a Teams or Zoom call.

The many changes caused by the pandemic have had many repercussions in the sports world and the cycling industry was not left out, many corporations and teams have had to implement new rules in order to reduce the risk level for spectators and athletes mainly during events. Even though the implemented measures have the goal of protecting people, they also came with a visual impact that was impossible to ignore, changing the entirely cycling landscape. More presence of health workers, masks forming part of the athletes' gear, and the absence of crowd became part of a “normal” race, and those empty seats were and in some cases, still are a reminder that the pandemic is not over yet.

Fortunately, as time passes by, a silver lining has started to be seen, the industry and society are starting to bounce back from what it seemed a never-ending situation. Recent events concerning the Challenge brand such as Unbound Gravel in Emporia, Kansas and the Tour of Slovenia were clear examples of this. People gathering and interacting with each other while enjoying the clash of their favorite riders is once again the most distinguishable aspect of these kind of events. As a matter of fact, although in the Tour of Slovenia the victory was for one of our partner teams, feeling the energy coming from the crowd was the real victory, a victory for all of us.

In other big events such as the Giro d’Italia was also noticed an increase of spectators even if there are still a lot of safety measures that need to be followed, definitely passion can make things happen and more when cycling becomes one of the reasons to stay healthy and going out. During this event, Mauro Gianetti (a former Swiss professional rider), was asked about his passion for cycling and he pointed out that "the pandemic made us reflect a lot on how important it is to have a healthy lifestyle. Today the bicycle is seen as an opportunity for personal well-being". But cycling has always been a healthy activity, but maybe that was something we took for granted, which bring us to the next question…What is the new challenge?

To keep it short, the NEW challenge is to get back to OLD habits, but with a wiser and bolder approach. Always remembering that sometimes the simple things are also the essential ones.