COVID panic? Keep calm and carry on with bike tour planning

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ConnecTour Chronicles

Five Canadians who call themselves ConnecTour are planning to tour across Canada this summer, discovering how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives and our sense of community. Fellow cycle-touring enthusiasts will join with the group at various points along the way. Watch this space for regular reports.

April 18, 2021

“Are you . . . sure you will be safe?”

“What about the people you’ll be meeting with?”

“Aren’t you worried about the variants?”

Departure day is fast approaching for far-and-away the biggest ride of our lives. Coast to coast – 8,000 kilometres – on two wheels with the mission of helping Canadians reconnect with each other. Oh, and surviving a physically demanding odyssey. And once again the storm clouds are gathering.

But the questions are coming at us from every corner. Our friends and family are divided on whether this a grand adventure or whether we’re going to be part of the problem when we hit the road.

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Of all the things we thought we might be fretting about just four weeks before launch date, the state of the pandemic was low on our list. Because we believed by now the vaccinations would be more widely distributed, that governments would have been more effective at convincing Canadians to act responsibly, and that the worst of the pandemic would be behind us.

Instead, each day brings a shit-storm of unsettling news. Ontario is in a tailspin, with thousands of new cases every day. Other provinces are preparing to send reinforcements there to help them out. British Columbia, meanwhile, is dealing with the fallout from the breakout at Whistler, combined with international flights bringing hundreds of COVID-infected passengers with them into the country.

southern Alberta bike tourPoliticians seem to be flummoxed by these ever-shifting sands. Sensing they have lost public confidence, they waffle from hard-line pronunciations to rapid backpedaling when people justifiably express their anger over measures that are at best inconsistent and more often completely nonsensical. We are witnessing a crisis in leadership at all levels.

The media, meanwhile, are doing what they do, accentuating the negative in the time-tested “if-it-bleeds-it leads” fashion, peppering every report on the pandemic with adjectives like “crisis”, “dire” and “grave”. It appears to be a North American thing. One recent survey of U.S. media found that 87 per cent of COVID-related articles are negative in tone, versus 50 per cent for major media outlets in other English-speaking countries.

Contrary to the headlines, there are positive developments. Despite the setbacks, vaccines are getting out there. And there is more and more evidence that they work.

This is the moment when you have to stay calm and step back from the maelstrom of bad news. To be somewhat fatalistic. As Doris Day once sang, “Que sera, sera.” It is entirely possible that circumstances will shut us down. But we’re staying the course, finalizing our preparations in the belief that four weeks from now the skies will begin to clear.

If we’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that responsible behaviour helps bend the curve downward, and reckless behaviour points it back up. Hundreds of people gathered without masks at Kitsilano beach, and – well – you just know what’s going to happen. Those types of events have to stop.

Meanwhile, slowly the vaccinations are reaching more and more Canadians. Four of the five members of the ConnecTour core group have had their first shots. We’ve rebuilt our bikes and assembled our gear. We’re ready to go. We’ve been ready for more than a year.

There are 37 million stories out there waiting to be told about real people redefining their lives in the post-pandemic world. On May 15th, we’re heading out to capture a few of them.


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