Cycling Through Isolation with Nick Locandro

  • By: National Road Series
  • Apr 20, 2020
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Drawing on his life experiences as a dementia awareness advocate, Subaru Giant Team manager and rider, and founder of the Dementia Project, Nick Locandro shared with us his tips on how to cycle through isolation and the importance of physical and mental activity at this time.

Social connection and engagement is crucial

This is a message I constantly voice when I am asked to speak about my experience with dementia.

After my father passed away from dementia, it made me realise the isolating nature of the disease for the individual, their carer and their family often means their networks and human connection with friends and community is stripped away.

Nick Locandro

Experiencing this through my father’s fight with young-onset dementia reminds me in a way of what we are currently facing now. Self-isolating and social distancing is crucial now more so than ever to help flatten the curve, but what is also important is that you are proactive in maintaining your social network.

Cyclists up until this point are still incredibly fortunate that we can continue to do what we love doing, riding our bikes. To some people this might be a moot point, ‘who cares, with everything going on in the world cycling is irrelevant’. I understand that I feel I have a good level of perspective in life with what I have been through.

However, cycling is ingrained in my whole life, it provides structure and it’s a physical and mental cleanser for me, the same as going for a walk, doing yoga or hitting the gym is for others.

Many riders are fine with the idea of riding by themselves and even prefer it, others enjoy the company of a group or maybe just one other rider, this is the diverse nature of cycling.

Personally I am more of an introvert than extrovert, so I prefer to ride solo or with a few others that I am close with. It may sound odd, but I can ride with one other and we can not talk for hours on the ride but just having someone there is the connection I need, knowing I’m not alone.

When training for the National Championships, my 2018 Uluru to Ballarat epic adventure or my ride along the Mawson trail last year, it often meant long solo stretches in the saddle each day anywhere up to 6 hours.

Even when I have done these long solo rides and days I have still had human touchpoints. Passing other cyclists, riding through small towns or the waiter serving you for your coffee, even though you are riding solo, you were never really alone however now these human interactions are slowly being taken away.

My tips for dealing with isolation

Find your “why”

Why do you love riding your bike? I had trained relentlessly for three years chasing my National Road Series ambitions. I trained through big blocks where I would wake up at 4:40am every day for months and wonder why I was doing this.

During this time, I had lost track of why I rode a bike. With no racing and no dementia challenge rides on the horizon, I have no structured training at the moment. I am now just getting to ride my bike when I feel like it, how far or short and how easy or hard.

Over the last four weeks, I have ridden 18 hour weeks on top of full-time work because I fell in love with just riding my bike again!


Granted that this may not be possible for everyone, as going out and purchasing another bike isn’t just as simple as that (I wish it was too). I am fortunate through my partnership with Giant Australia that I have been able to add a mountain and a gravel bike to the stable at home.

This comes back to “finding my why” and this has largely been driven by getting offroad. My standard 15-20 hours a week training on the road had become a bit monotonous and I knew just about every sealed road around Ballarat.

Now that I can get off-road, it has meant new paths, trails and areas to explore, different scenery, new skills and it has been so refreshing, not to mention feeling a lot safer on the roads.

Embrace Technology

This is not everyone’s strong point, even at 29 I feel like a fossil when it comes to setting some things up and what once felt effortless requires some YouTube tutorials. But invest in this… We have time now!

Even though we can still ride outside I feel myself drawn to riding indoors, in particular on Zwift. This is because I can meet up with my friends virtually and do group rides together or even race. I know it’s just an avatar of your friend on screen, but somehow it makes it feel real.

It’s well and truly kept my friends and I connected, we often chat throughout the ride, just like normal and after a Zwift race, the banter is just like the usual antics of our local club races. We have also found ourselves catching up on Zoom because of this, even when we are off the bike the conversation flows from bikes to our everyday life so our relationships are now closer than ever.


It’s been interesting to see how the current situation has affected different riders in unique ways. No more group rides mean no excuses to drag yourself out of bed so you don’t cop the banter from the others for not turning up to the regular bunch ride.

I’ve seen other riders with no events coming up soon lose the motivation to push themselves, or not feeling like they have a reason. This very much links to finding your “why”.

For myself, I’ve found it helpful to still get up and train at exactly the same time as usual. Yes, it’s an early start, but I found that if I slept in and dragged myself out of bed at 8:30am to start work in my home office, the day got away from me very quickly and my motivation levels definitely dwindled. I’d suggest using your cycling, either at home or outside, to create some normality and a pathway to a productive day.

Be grateful

As cyclists, we are so fortunate that we can continue to do what we love doing most. Not so long ago I played football and cricket, participants of those sports can no longer do what they love doing.

Also, perspective is important. While riding our bikes is important to us, it’s also not everything. I was meant to compete in Dirty Kanza in May, the world’s biggest gravel race, however, it was postponed.  Am I disappointed with this? Yes, however, it’s just a race and riding my bike is not the be-all and end-all right now.

I’m grateful that my friends and family are healthy and hope that as a community we rally through this together as that’s what is most important.

Don’t forget to invest time and effort in yourself and others. At a time like this, you can’t over-communicate, don’t let weeks go by like you usually would because life gets too busy. Maintaining your social connections and engagements are key and it’s how we will all get through this not just physically but mentally.

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