As England returned to a national lockdown for November, we caught up with Alan Bayliss, Chair of Salisbury Tri Club, about how they have adapted to the uncertain nature of club life in 2020.
Like the vast majority of clubs across England, Salisbury quickly turned their attention to online training sessions and socials when the initial lockdown was announced in March.
“We’re very much a community club,” Bayliss said. “All our coaches are volunteers which means we weren’t under financial pressure, so our main focus throughout was making sure that we kept members engaged in the sport and with the club.
“We’ve got an open Facebook group which people were continually sharing content in and updating on what they were up to, as well as regular virtual rides on Zwift and weekly group Zoom turbo sessions.
“One of our members set up our Zoom turbo sessions on a Monday evening, devising a training plan and continuing them all through the first lockdown and carried them on once restrictions were lifted too.”
In addition to these group activities, the club published training sessions for members to complete at home on their own as well as various challenges.
“When restrictions were lifted we carried on providing at-home training opportunities,” commented Bayliss.
“It was driven by demand because people were still spending a lot of time at home and looking after children so, as well as creating in person training sessions, we continued to support members to access training and the social aspect of the sport virtually too.”
When the second lockdown was announced for England from 5 November, having the virtual offering still running meant it was a lot easier for Bayliss and the club to adapt second time around.
“Unsurprisingly, our Monday evening Zoom turbo sessions have increased in popularity,” he added. “We’re also carrying on sharing run sessions every Tuesday and are starting Saturday morning Zwift meet-ups too.
“One of our coaches has also created triathlon focussed Zwift sessions which we run on a Thursday evening.
“Keeping our members engaged on the social front is also really important to us, and we’ve got Chrissie Wellington coming to do a Q&A as part of our virtual Christmas event, and there are other triathlon related talks and sessions lined up on Zoom too.”
Bayliss and the club’s members are still hopeful that there may be a chance to move back into the real world with a pre-Christmas return to racing.
“We haven’t given up on being able to take part in events this year,” he said. “We’ve got a large contingent entered into an, as un-yet-cancelled, off-road duathlon in mid-December, so our fingers crossed for that.”