We are always grateful for cycling and everything that comes with it. But it is this year, with all the tumult and uncertainty that comes with it, that has made us particularly grateful for cycling.
That transition between winter and spring – typically in March – is a tough time of the year for lots of people. For most, that means biding time until warmer weather when you can soak up the sun and the endorphins that come with warmer weather and exploration. But as we’re well-aware of by now, COVID-19 and the ensuing pandemic have thrown off the routines of just about everyone. But for cyclists like you and me? We are a privileged group whose favorite past time – riding bikes – has been hardly impacted by our new normal.
There are few other activities that allow you to enjoy yourself and do it safely no less. Huffing and puffing your way to the top of your favorite climb is no less rewarding. Sweating out the watts is no less meaningful. Finding new places to ride is no less special. Riding a bike has become a symbol of freedom during the pandemic, as a way to both physically and mentally release from your quarantined day-to-day.
That said, COVID-19 has changed how we approach just about everything in life, cycling included. Below is how a few Contender staff members feel about how cycling has changed for them in the midst of a pandemic.
I’ve always seen riding bikes as a mini adventure you can do close to home, and that hasn’t changed one bit. It’s an escape, and when done safely, a way to see friends and share experiences. There isn’t much more I enjoy than going out for a ride, and I’m grateful that hasn’t changed.
For the past five years, my relationship with cycling has revolved around training and racing. Rides consisted of intervals and power data in the hope of podium finishes. With racing taking a backseat in 2020, it proved to be a perfect time to slow down and reflect on cycling and its role in my life. While I am not pinning numbers to my jersey this season, I have found solace in knowing that cycling offers more than a competitive pursuit.
Riding a bike allows me to escape and have my own adventure while experiencing the world around me. This is why I started cycling, and even if I forget this, it is why I will continue.
Cycling during a pandemic is good for self-sufficiency. If your bike breaks down you can fix it yourself without having to involve more people than necessary. I can’t say enough how grateful I am to have the resources to be self-sufficient in this manner, much less self-sufficient at all during this pandemic.
Cycling in the midst of a pandemic has been interesting, to say the least. As someone who’s recently gotten into gravel biking this year and eager to get involved in the Utah gravel riding community, it’s bittersweet sharing rides with strangers in Facebook groups rather than actually getting out together. That said, I’ve always been one to feel comfortable riding alone, and this season has expanded my comfort zone further than I anticipated.
In previous years, I would have zero interest in participating in virtual group rides, but individual challenges like the Rapha Women’s 100, or those from Garmin and Strava have presented new opportunities and motivation to put more miles on my bike and share my experiences from a safe distance.
The pandemic has fundamentally changed how we interact with loved ones and strangers alike. For me, that is no more apparent than in the simple wave of the hand while out on the ride. The wave – a small dose of camaraderie and mutual respect – has given my socially-starved self a dose of social activity that has made living in a pandemic just a bit easier.
Now, I rarely skip the opportunity to salute a nearby cyclist with a hand wave. Maybe that hand wave is reciprocated a quarter of the time, but it feels like the more I wave to fellow cyclists, the more waves I receive. Is that selfish? Perhaps. But until I have reason to believe otherwise, I’m going to continue waving to other cyclists long after this pandemic is past us.
We are consistently reminded of the value of cycling every day, but living thru a pandemic has made cycling something for which we are all the more thankful. From all of us at Contender Bicycles, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Photos by Alvin Holbrook, Carlos Interone, Ericka Vladovich, Gabe Lavandel, and Zane Enders.