Here in the UK we’ve been in a third national lockdown for a few weeks. The message (and the law) is simple: stay at home.
There are, of course, exceptions. One of them is that we’re allowed to travel for work, if we can’t work at home. Obviously, when your business involves publishing images of people riding bikes, and writing stories about them, it’s pretty tricky to facilitate the bike riding part of the equation sat on the sofa with a laptop. And so there are plenty of mountain bike media outlets who’ve been invoking the WFH exemption to keep publishing. And that’s fine, in legal terms.
But Cranked is staying on the metaphorical sofa for now (while still publishing), and I want to explain why.
I anticipated the lockdown many weeks before it actually happened. But even with advance planning, stuff like weather tends to get in the way at this time of year in the northern hemisphere. So when lockdown was announced, there were two or three features for Cranked #24 that still hadn’t been shot.
Could we have legitimately gone out and shot them? Possibly. Did we? No.
My partner is an NHS clinician. My dad is a retired NHS consultant (and counts as vulnerable, so has been shielding). For me – and for millions of others – the pandemic has been just as much a personal event as a global one. I simply couldn’t square the reality of the UK’s Covid statistics in early 2021 with the hypothetical ‘need’ to go out and take pictures of folk riding mountain bikes. It just didn’t compute. Still doesn’t.
There was another aspect, which is that none of Cranked’s fantastic team of freelance writers and photographers seemed particularly keen to break lockdown, either. I wasn’t about to ask them to.
If you’ve been following the news, you’ll likely have seen various instances of people getting themselves into difficulties outdoors, being rescued in some cases, and being fined for breaking lockdown. I’m aware, for example, of a local outdoor instructor who travelled hundreds of miles to ‘risk assess’ a walk in the mountains. Social media is full of this stuff. I think it’s important that Cranked sets a good example (while leaving people to make their own decisions, and take responsibility for their own actions). Which is why I’m not willing to use the WFH exemption yet. More than 1000 people in the UK lost their lives to Covid yesterday. Insisting on our ‘right’ to go and ride bikes seems… somewhat irrelevant to me at the moment.
As the situation evolves, Cranked’s stance on it will evolve too. For now, we’re putting together a magazine that is 100% lockdown-compliant, didn’t involve a single person bending or breaking any rules, and put no-one at risk of injury or illness. It’ll still be awesome, because that’s what we do. It’s what we’re all about.
Stay safe, keep riding… we’ll see you out on the trails soon!