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Quarantine routines: Cyclocross champ Gunnar Holmgren on gardening and gains

Gunnar Holmgren is a Canadian cyclocross champion and is a member of the Pivot Cycles team. Holmgren cut his teeth on the Wednesday night race series at Hardwood Ski & Bike and is best known as a three-time champion of the Paris to Ancaster Bicycle Race. We asked him what it’s been like for him during the quarantine. 
 
This is the fifth in our series of Quarantine Routines. 
 
Where have you been quarantined?

When I first came back to Ontario from the Vail Lake US Cup I quarantined in a trailer for two weeks. Now I’m back home in Orillia with the rest of my family.

How is it going?

It’s going well! I miss racing but there are many other things I’m occupying myself with that I wouldn’t normally have time to do in a full racing season. One project I’m working on is building a garden for herbs and vegetables at home. I’m hoping for some tasty zucchini cake in the future. 
 
What are you looking forward to most when you can move around more and start getting back to normal?

I’m most looking forward to getting back with the Blue Train. This is my first season with the Pivot-OTE team and it’s a great environment for learning with friends, pushing each other's limits, and having a great time. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll be able to race later in fall and get the group back together. 

Tell us about your quarantine fitness routine.
 
It’s tricky to know what to do for training at this time because we’ve never encountered a period where we won’t be racing for so long. I’m very grateful that I can still ride outside in my area and that the trails are still open. I’ve been taking advantage of the great conditions to ride my mountain bike as much as possible to try different setups, tire pressures, etc. I set myself a challenge of hunting some KOM’s, which are great efforts by the way. While on the topic of efforts, the other week I did a Paris to Ancaster simulation in my area instead of what would have been the 27th edition of the race. With the race in mind, I could push pretty hard beyond normal structured intervals. It was great to somewhat revisit racing sensations and I hope the feeling isn’t too distant when the time comes to put the hammer down again. 

Besides riding, it’s a good time to maintain a regular strength routine, such as I would be doing in the winter, without having to travel to the races. My routine includes main sets of squats, deadlifts, and split squats. The rest is made up of coordination and core work which I try to switch up every time to keep it fun and challenging. Some runs may have been included. 

How about nutrition?

Being able to train more than normal means you need to fuel more than normal. At all times, and especially now, I believe it’s better to fuel more than you need rather than not enough so that none of the work that’s being put in gets wasted. Eating well is still important to stay healthy and maximize gains. Some of my favourite meals are avocado, tomato and egg on toast for breakfast plus apples apples apples; leftovers for lunch (who doesn’t love leftovers); Moroccan tagine, which is a performance chef (Alan Murchison) meal from his cookbook that includes parsley coriander and mint! That being said, it’s also a good time to sample some nice Belgian beer. I highly recommend the Trappist Achel. 

Do you work on your mental fitness?

I think things tend to get over complicated on the subject of mental training. I like to keep things simple. Switch up what you’re doing — find new roads, try a new recipe, ride at sunset or go for a run. Sometimes you just have to do what you want to do instead of what you need to do to get a quick mental reset (obviously don’t do what you aren’t allowed to do). The main thing right now is keeping a positive mindset and being grateful. I’m grateful I have time to start a sweet garden. I’m grateful I can still ride my bike outside. I’m grateful to spend some time at home with my family. There’s a lot more energy to be gained thinking positively rather than negatively. 

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