Charles Planet returned to racing in early August with an impressive seventh place in Circuito de Getxo. The result signals a full recovery for him after contracting the coronavirus earlier this year.
Below, Planet talks about his family going through the virus, how he stayed motivated, and his new outlook on life.
With two races done now, how does it feel to be back racing?
It felt amazing to be back with the team, racing in Spain and Poland. After such a long time at home, we’re all happy to be back. There are plenty of races coming up, it’s going to be short and intense, but we are really motivated for the next races.
How did you deal mentally with the uncertainty during lockdown?
Surprisingly, I kept a really high level of motivation despite riding on the trainer every day. Everyone in my family, including myself, got COVID-19, and that definitely made me realize how beautiful life is. I really enjoyed the time at home, training, and doing my job every day on the trainer. I can see the legs are responding well, so I’m proud of what I did in lockdown.
When did you first suspect you might have the coronavirus?
First, my mother got it, so we knew it was bad because we saw first-hand what happened to her. She definitely experienced many of the symptoms you hear about. A few days later, I woke up, had breakfast, and noticed my taste and smell senses had disappeared completely. I was drinking coffee and there was no taste at all. For two weeks I didn’t have any taste and smell. For me, my father, and brother, these were the only symptoms we had. No fever, no nausea, no breathing problem. Otherwise, everything was ok.
How long did it take for those senses to come back?
It took two weeks for me, but it took my father much longer. Even two months later, he was still struggling to taste, but now it looks like everything is behind us and everyone is good.
What did you do to recover? Did you just rest or could you do any exercise?
I called the team and they told me to take it easy on training, which I did. But actually, cycling is my life and I really wanted to do something during lockdown, so I just took it easy for a few days. I could see the symptoms were not getting any worse so I kept training easy and eventually built back to normal training on the trainer.
What did it mean to you to return to racing again in Getxo and finish seventh?
I was happy – not really surprised – because I was working well at home and I had some amazing legs during the team’s training camp. I was confident coming into these races. This is a typical race I like— up and down with hard conditions, some rain, and an overall intense day. This is the kind of race that I like. It was a beautiful day for me and a boost for my confidence. In Poland, the stages didn’t suit me perfectly. Stage 3 was a good stage for me, but I missed something in the end. I was a bit dehydrated but still, I had some good legs and I’m already looking forward to Tour de Limousin (18 – 21 Aug) which hopefully will be a good race for me.
How was it with the heat in Poland?
It was definitely not my friend. The heat is really tough for me. I live in a place where it’s hot but I always try to train when it’s cooler. I really suffer in the heat. The last days in Poland were really tough with 205km in the saddle. I had to drink a lot and managed it overall, but I hope it’s going to be cooler in the next few weeks.
Did you feel more motivated after having the coronavirus?
To be honest, this lockdown was bad for everyone, but it was also something that changed my perception of life. I know to try to enjoy every moment. The world was in a bad situation with a lot of people struggling. My mother was really struggling with COVID. It made me know to enjoy every moment at home, even when there isn’t much to do or not much to think about. I think life is good and I want to enjoy life simply.
So it makes you value the small things more?
Exactly. I appreciate the small things and try to enjoy every moment.
Do you have a message of hope you’d share during these times?
Just enjoy every moment that you’re healthy because you never know what can happen tomorrow. Enjoy your friends and family, tell them you love them, and give 100% every day. Enjoy life and be happy.