• Simon Weir

Quarantine Blues

Like everyone who has a bike trip planned, I'm gutted. I have two weeks in September booked and I wanted to get back to Europe, to check in with my favourite roads and visit some of my favourite people. More than anything else, I just want to be back on the bike. Last year's Big Stupid Trip of a Lifetime hasn't cured my wanderlust...


But now, thanks to the virus, any plans I had are in tatters.


I hesitate to write to much about this. The situation changes so fast that this post could date almost before the virtual ink is dry.


As things stand at the moment, it looks like I could go: hop the Eurotunnel and head for the horizon. I've seen any number of social media posts shrieking "your insurance will be invalid" but if you speak to your insurer (as I did) this is bollocks. At the moment. That might change and it may be different from insurer to insurer. But if I go, I'll get my advice from the insurance company and not some bloke on the internet. I'd recommend you do the same, but, er, I've just recommended not listening to blokes on the internet...


If I do go, though, I'll have to hurry home and quarantine for two weeks upon getting back to the UK. Not an insurmountable problem, as I've been working 100% from home quite happily and effectively since the lockdown began. If I'm staying inside, I'd need someone to shop for me but I'm sure that could be managed.


So should I do it? I frankly don't know. I'm trying to work out what the socially responsible thing to do is - and I think that's staying inside, possibly indefinitely, until the virus is finally beaten... if it ever is. Which pretty much rules that out as an option.


That leaves: go but be paranoid and cautious. Mask ready to go as soon as I get off the bike, squirty tube of sanitizer in the tankbag, if I can't fit a dispenser somewhere on the bike (I'm sure Wunderlich will have one for a GS within weeks).


My initial thought was that it would be best to camp, to avoid going into hotels in case the hygiene isn't as scrupulous as you'd hope... except surely campsite shower blocks will be more of a sanitizing lottery than a well-run hotel? I'm not sure I can win on this one unless I give up washing.


There are so many imponderables, I've kind of given up worrying about them for the time being. The pleasant bit – as with all trips – isn't that practical prep. It's the day-dreaming about where to go. So I've been doing lots of that.


I'm desperate to get back to the Alps. Since Easter I've like Pavlov's pass-bagger: you only had to say the words "Galibier" or "l'Iseran" and I'd start salivating. Mutter "Col d'Izoard" and I would emit a strange groan of yearning.


Then I'd talk to people about Spain and Portugal and it would provoke an equally compelling desire to get back out to ride the Picos, the Serra da Estrela, the crazy hidden passes of Extremadura or the bonkers twisties in the hilly hinterland of Catalonia.


But a few weeks ago I worked out where I wanted to go: Corsica. It's a while since I was last there and the riding was, quite simply, off the charts. When the roads hadn't been dug up, anyway. They should have had time to finish them now. And if I could get to Corsica, it's only a short ferry from Bonifacio to Sardinia...


Now that began to feel like a plan. Only two weeks, but I could pack in as much of the riding-joy as a month on the road: great riding across France, a solid seven days split between the two islands, back through the Alps. It would be perfect.


I'd just about finished my planning when the announcement was made: travel to France and face quarantine on your return. Damn... But do-able. Unless France stops welcoming us in, because there's no point then. You can't go to Calais and quarantine yourself to two weeks, only to get back on the Eurotunnel and come home to quarantine for another fortnight.


So here's hoping the rules get changed again, or at least France doesn't decide to make us quarantine on entry – hopefully before the virtual ink on this post has dried, so we can get back to touring in France and the rest of Europe. It might not happen, but we can always dream. And in the meantime I'll keep dreaming about revisiting all of my favourite roads – especially in Corsica and Sardinia.


I've put together a two-week tour of the two islands, in manageable pillion-friendly days and allowing for two rest days, which is now on my "Off the peg tours" page of self-guided trips (click here for info). If it's practical to go, maybe I'll see you out there?


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SIMON WEIR
The Riding Guide