Two professional riders, four walls and a bike: Surviving MIQ

MIQ for a professional downhill rider is a challenge. Four walls rather than verticals and four storeys up rather than hitting the ground running can take a toll. Sam Blenkinsop has done two stints at it this year, having travelled back and forth to the world champs, and he admits to moments of madness.
“I’m worse than other people I think because I just have to be doing things. I can’t sit around and do nothing. That drives me mental.”
Sam is sharing MIQ with fellow racer Brook Macdonald and the pair do fess up to taking the first days in isolation to recover from enjoying a few big nights out in LA after worlds wrapped up. But they then made up for that by doing 1000 press-ups in a day.
“It took us the whole day. It was quite crazy, but it was good, and it kind of blew us out for the next few days after that.”
They have come up with other creative ways to keep up their fitness and the first thing they did was to hustle a bike into the hotel.
“I put a message out on Instagram if anyone in Auckland had a spin bike that we could borrow and this old fulla replied. He was a really good guy and he dropped it off.”
After an initial hitch of the security scratching their heads and saying they couldn’t bring it in, the boys talked them around and the bike got pride of place in their room.
“It has really saved us from going nuts, being able to sweat it out and listen to some music or watch Youtube.”
Sam says every meal delivery is an occasion in MIQ - and in between those three welcome interruptions, Sam and Brook take turns having a spin on their go-nowhere bike.
“We haven’t been too flat out with the training this time in MIQ, we are in the down season now, but we still have to maintain our fitness. We have to keep pedalling.”
Interval training and some high intensity 30 second bursts have been mixed in and Sam says it is possible to workout in a small space with nothing but earSHOTS bluetooth headphones and some good tunes.
“Even just doing a little 10 minute core workout makes me feel better. There is heaps you can do and I have found some pretty good stuff on Youtube. I think some people can just do nothing but I can’t, I have to be doing something everyday.”
Sam has an extra factor added in that has made this isolation drag - he has an eight week-old son and a two year-old daughter waiting for him at home.
“I came home inbetween worlds to be there for the birth of my son and then, after a two week isolation, I stayed home for a week before going back overseas to compete. They will both have changed so much, so that’s been really hard.”
Spending time at home with his wife and kids is top of the priority list for Sam and getting back on his favourite Christchurch tracks comes in close behind. Crankworx is just around the corner so Sam says he has that to focus on in between baby cuddles.
“Just hanging out is going to be amazing, catching up on what I have been missing out on.”
And to the man who lent them the bike?
“Thanks” says Sam “you kept me from losing the plot and banging my head against the wall.”