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While most professional bike racers have been posting about their home gym setups and Zwift rides, Mitchelton-Scott’s Sam Bewley’s isolation plan has been a little different: he’s been homeschooling the world with domestic living tips, and in a style only he could pull off.
It started back in April with a splendid lasagna recipe (see video below). Since then, the Kiwi, each time decked out in his finest lockdown-chic, has been regularly Instagramming and tweeting meal and household chore 101s, each video eclectically sprinkled with comedy gold one-liners.
“It just happened one night,” recalls Bewley from his Girona apartment. “I’d probably had a couple of beers and was like ‘oh, this’ll be funny’, so I just filmed it and sent it to a group of mates just as a laugh. They all thought it was pretty funny and one of the girls in the group said I should post it, and I just thought I had nothing to lose.
“All of a sudden I got this big reaction, so I did another one and got more of a following. It’s carried on from there and I’ve kept on doing them.”
Regular viewers will be knocked-down surprised that Bewley did not spend his pre-professional years honing this craft at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris — instead his talent comes from closer to home. “About 15 years ago High Performance Sport New Zealand, or whatever it was called back then, put out a cookbook and it had all these New Zealand sports stars like Sarah Ulmer each promoting a recipe.
“I think I got that lasagna dish from there — can’t remember whose it was but pretty sure it was from that book — and it became my signature dish for a long time when I first turned pro. I hadn’t made it for a while, so the cooking show gave me the inspiration to get the old recipe out.”
Not content with his familiar meat-orientated dishes, Bewley has branched out to get in touch with his inner vegetarian. “I’ve never been a big fan of eggplant but somebody sent the recipe to me and it seemed pretty easy, and I actually quite liked it in the end,” he says. “That has been my favourite so far and I surprised myself on how much I do like eggplant, if it’s cooked well.”
Obviously a natural in front of the camera, Bewley’s delivery style comes easily. “No rehearsals, it’s all one take, that’s why it’s pretty rough, and I think it’s the rawness we are after,” he says. “I just make it up as I go; I don’t know what I’m saying half the time.”
Living alone, Bewley has tried his best to keep himself busy during his current lockdown situation. He’s only allowed to venture outside for essentials.
“It’s so quiet,” he says. “You can only go to the supermarket or to the pharmacy, so that’s 30 minutes outside every couple of days. There’s a few of us that live here in the centre of Girona — by coincidence I have seen a couple of people I know as we all go to the same supermarket, so we have a quick two-minute two-metre-apart conversation in the aisle. Half the time though you don’t recognize them because they’ve got a hat on and a mask over their face.”
Bewley says that, like many of his fellow pros, he has been riding on Zwift, but he’s “not going crazy with training at the moment”.
“I don’t see the point of absolutely flogging yourself when the best-case scenario is that we are four months away from racing,” he explains. “But I am getting on the bike every day for an hour or two, and it at least kills some time.
“Everyone is taking a different approach. Some people find it easier to get on the bike and do big hours, whereas I’m taking the approach that I know what can be achieved out on the road within the space of two months, and I know I will have that time before we race so I’m doing enough to maintain some kind of fitness at the moment and to keep my head switched on, so when I get back on the road I can really stick into it.
“People understand that exercise makes you feel better, and it doesn’t have to be a structured training session. Even if you just get on for an hour and have a bit of a sweat and get the heartrate up a bit then it’s good for the state of mind.”
He’s also been keeping busy with other projects, co-producing The Social Distance Podcast with fellow Kiwi pro George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and former Orica-GreenEdge video producer, Dan Jones.
“[Jones] used to do the Backstage Pass for our team, and we were basically sitting in a pub about five or six years ago just taking shit and he said to us ‘you guys have got some good banter, you should start a podcast,’” Bewley says. “We made a few false starts but we couldn’t pull it off. When the lockdown happened Jonesy got on the phone and said ‘C’mon boys, let’s do it, no one has got an excuse not to listen now’. So, we’ve done a couple of episodes now and it’s taken up a fair bit of time too.
“It’s been relatively easy to prep for the first ones with Shane (Archbold) and Simon (van Velthooven) as we know those guys pretty well so it flows, but it’ll be pretty interesting once we start going down the line of talking to people we don’t know.”
Aside from his culinary and podcasting skills, Bewley’s social media followers would have noticed the 32-year-old has also branched out to share his prowess when it comes to the more mundane chores around the house. He clearly excels at vacuuming and has some handy hints on how to quell the boredom when washing your clothes.
“I was starting to run out of ideas in the kitchen so I’ve done some other stupid things too,” Bewley says. “I might have to start thinking about what I’m going to do next as I don’t want to run out of ideas before the lockdown ends. I don’t know, I’ll make something up, I’ll figure something out.”
We’ll be watching.
About the author
Born and raised in the cycling hotbed that is the Wirral, England, Russell Jones noticed early on that some of his cycling club teammates were much faster than him, quickly coming to the conclusion that he should probably quell any racing ambitions and just enjoy the riding. The fact that one of these club mates went on to be an Hour Record holder and win the yellow jersey may have skewed his judgement slightly.
After a solid 15 years working in the broadcast industry he decided to take the leap to become a full-time freelance cycling journalist, basing himself in the cycling hotbed that is the Waikato, New Zealand. There he is able to keep one eye on the racing scene while continuing his love for exploring the local endless country lanes.