Travis Barrett was on top of his game when the coronavirus pandemic hit, applying the brakes to a run of racing successes that augured well for the rest of the season.
After winning the opening stage and claiming the first yellow jersey, the 20-year-old speedster went on to place sixth overall in the five-stage Tour of Good Hope in early March. Two days later, he won what could turn out to be a career-defining Cape Town Cycle Tour.
Understandably, he was keen to take further advantage of this rich vein of form. But it was not to be.
“Initially it was quite challenging to go from these highs to being under lockdown and not able to train outdoors,” said Barrett, who is a member of the U23 OfficeGuru set-up.
“I definitely felt like I had some good form and all I wanted to do was to keep the momentum going and race with the team.”
The African Continental Road Championships, due to take place in Mauritius two weeks after his triumph, would have been his first objective.
“I realised shortly into lockdown that it was something I was going to have to get used to; that I’d have to adapt to the situation and set some new goals.”
On the plus side, the Edenvale local felt that the lockdown might even have benefited him physically and mentally.
“We knew there would be no races for a while so I took a couple of days off to reset before getting going again,” said Barrett, admitting that training indoors was anything but novel to him.
“I was quickly able to get into the routine of it and enjoyed it.”
He kept himself motivated by setting small goals, trying to have fun and reminding himself that these times would pass.
“Events such as the Support SA Talent e-series on Zwift have given us races to look forward to each week and allow us to ride with our teammates. This keeps the morale and camaraderie between the teams and riders high, which I think has helped a lot.”
However, now that he was once again racking up the miles in the great outdoors, he reckoned “there’s nothing quite like it”.
Barrett was confident that his form was currently just as good, if not better, than when he won the Cycle Tour.
“I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on my areas of weakness on and off the bike.
“I managed to keep my volume of training high by doing more than one session a day, as well as routinely doing strength work to try and become an athlete who is as well-rounded as possible.”
He set out to achieve things that could be ticked off during lockdown.
“Small things like working on flexibility and stability were goals I set for myself and were the kind of objectives that allowed me to see results and stay motivated.
“When we get a clearer picture of when we’ll be able to race, I’ll start to set some targets for events,” he said, hoping that the Tour de Limpopo, Amashova Durban Classic and 947 Ride Joburg would be among these.
“Those are definitely the biggest races [left] on the local calendar and I’m certain that we have the talent within the team to pull off a big result in all three.”
He felt the current situation had been tougher on the more seasoned professionals than on the younger riders who had just stepped onto the cycling scene.
“The younger and newer riders will still have time on their side when it comes to the sport and making a career out of it.
“Many professionals, especially those at ProTour and WorldTour level, rely on cycling as a primary source of income. When there is no racing, they earn less money.
“This can leave many riders feeling uncertain about their futures, as well as possibly leaving them without contracts.”
Barrett advised those struggling during this period to be grateful for everything they had and, instead of allowing negativity to consume them, to seek the positives in everything.
“Before we know it, these circumstances will pass and it will be something that we can look back at and learn from.”