Bishop's Stortford winger Mike Ayrton uses lockdown to get in top shape for National League 1 season
National League 1 defences could be in for a torrid time as Mike Ayrton has used lockdown to get himself firing on all cylinders.
The flying winger arrived at Bishop's Stortford in the summer of 2019 after making the move from derby rivals Cambridge alongside his younger brother James.
And going out for some long-distance runs and bike rides during the enforced break from rugby due to the pandemic has got him in great shape and ready to terrorise opponents.
"I must admit the body felt good after a year off, but I'm looking forward to getting going now. It's exciting," said Ayrton.
"To be honest I quite enjoy keeping myself fit anyway. It's easy-ish to do when you're bored and have been stuck inside.
"It was nice to get out of the house and I was running quite a lot, getting out on the bike quite a lot. You couldn't get to the gym so it was more about keeping the cardio up.
"I have had some niggles over the past couple of years that have now subsided, which is nice."
At 29, Ayrton, who played more than 200 games for Cambridge over nine seasons, is one of the older members of the Stortford squad.
And he knows the importance of being there to help youngsters, especially as Stortford pride themselves on bringing players through the youth ranks and into the first team.
"We're quite a young group. Something I learned when I was a youngster coming through with a few older guys was that they were good to talk to and get a few words of wisdom," said Ayrton, who works for Accident & Health Underwriting, in Ducketts Wharf on South Street.
"Hopefully I can pass on my experience to a few of the youngsters."
Stortford have firmly established themselves at this level following their promotion in 2017, but this will be their first campaign with joint head coaches Tom Coleman and Marcus Cattell at the helm.
Ayrton believes the club are in a good position to start the season well as they look to take advantage of any rustiness in opposition ranks.
"A lot of teams will have lost players and the teams that have come up won't necessarily have the momentum that they would have had if they'd rolled straight into another season," said Ayrton, who is sponsored by Tees.
"There will be a lot of testing the waters and seeing where everyone is, but we're not the new boys anymore and we've got a lot of boys who are older and wiser now and have been there, done it.
"Fingers crossed that will stand us in good stead and help us get off to a good start. Once you get into the deepest, darkest bits of the season – the horrible December-January time – that's when your experience really kicks in and gets you through."