The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has brought the whole world to a standstill. Hospitals became alarmingly fully occupied. Businesses were forced to shut down their operations. And in some parts of the United States, especially in large metropolitan areas, heightened anxiety over mass transportation surfaced.
Because of this, more and more people are turning to bicycles to help them get from point A to point B. This demand for bikes, coupled with the sudden surge in exercise, became known as the “bike boom”.
The Increasing Demand
When the stay-at-home order eased in some parts of the United States, people were exhausted with cabin fever. They needed to find ways to get around and go outside without being confined in their cars. For most people, the bicycle fits the bill. They can be fast with proper maintenance and ample experience. They are also significantly cheaper to maintain and don’t require much space in someone’s garage.
And most of all, bikes became the go-to exercise routine for most people as gyms closed their doors for the time being. According to an in-depth analysis by The NPD Group, there was a massive surge in consumers purchasing goods that will keep them actively and socially connected.
As such, there has been a dramatic growth in all major cycling equipment categories - with the bicycles category being a $5.3 billion business. It was up by 65% in the 12 months ending July 2021 compared to two years ago.
Cycling in North Carolina
Teeming with national forests and state parks, our home state of North Carolina offers plenty of opportunities for cyclists who are looking to explore the great outdoors after months of being cooped up at home. The state offers a lot of opportunities for mountain biking and road cycling - with the peak season running from April through October, although avid cyclists may ride all year.
“Four national forests extend options from the mountains to the coast,” Wit Tuttell, director of Visit North Carolina shared. “And many of North Carolina's state parks welcome riders. The East Coast Greenway and Carolina Thread Trail add even more miles to pedal.”
According to Wit, the most prominent cycling culture is found in the Brevard area. Because of this, it is dubbed as the “Cycling Capital of the South”. The Pisgah National Forest in the Appalachian Mountains, for instance, boasts several great mountain biking loops such as the Avery Creek Trail, the Squirrel Gap, and the Black Mountain Trail which is famed for its challenging and thrilling descent.
Those who want to see stunning waterfalls and lush forest growth would often come to DuPont State Recreational Forest. Although the forest welcomes mountain biking activities, cyclists should be careful to control their speed at all times since the trails are for multiple uses.
If you prefer road cycling, the Blue Ridge Parkway runs for hundreds of miles along the towering Blue Mountain Range. With plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy for thrill-seekers in their two-wheeled vehicles, it is no wonder that the state’s cycling culture continues to flourish.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular destination for road cyclists. It stretches for hundreds of miles along the Blue Mountain range.
Wit added that the additional reflection of this culture comes from the manufacturers such as Kroop’s that call the state home. “Among them are Industry Nine, Cane Creek Cycling, Kitsbow, and Rockgeist,” He said. “The influence of these brands runs both ways with product designers hitting area trails and then working to create gear that makes cycling more pleasurable for everyone.”
North Carolina strives to strengthen its position as a bike-friendly state, with all the commitment to building and maintaining trails.
“Beyond the national forests and state parks, destination-level development of bike parks and trails is designed to appeal to residents as well as visitors to Boone, Beech Mountain, Wilkesboro, Gastonia, and other places across the state,” Wit said.
The Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association affiliates and other organizations build community with trail days, event sponsorship, and other activities that elevate the appeal.
But as more and more people are discovering and rediscovering the love for cycling in these unprecedented times, the increase in demand has severely impacted the bike industry because of the supply shortages. In Fayetteville for example, Hawley’s Bicycle World struggles to keep up with the demand for repairs.
In this report by ABC News 11, the shop’s store manager and its owner have expressed their concerns about the bike and parts supply - even after ordering a year ahead. However, the shop is hopeful that things will improve soon as they will still find ways to make up the difference.
As for us here at Kroop’s, we also try to contribute to the situation by offering products that would cater to the ever increasing popularity of the cycling lifestyle. By offering a plethora of sunglasses and cycling goggles, we are aiming to give cyclists great, bang for the buck options for their eye protection needs that don’t skimp on quality, comfort, and durability.
At Kroop’s, we are aiming to give cyclists the eye protection they need by offering sunglasses and cycling goggles.
Cycling in the Pandemic
In some parts of the world where the majority of people are relying on public transport instead of private vehicles, getting around places proved to be a challenge. At the height of the pandemic in 2020 in the Philippines, the government had to impose an order restricting the operations of all public transport systems.
As such, essential workers - especially those who were in the healthcare sector - were severely affected. Some people had to walk for hours just to get to work. Others, though, decided to purchase bikes to solve the absence of transportation.
People ride bicycles to get around in the absence of public transportation in the early days of COVID-19.
For these essential workers, bicycles are heaven-sent. It’s a different story, though, for people who are spending most of their free time cycling. Such is the case with Lourdes Baldonado, a cycling content creator. She started cycling when she was young, but had to stop to make time for her studies. In 2018, however, Lourdes bought her very own bicycle and started to go to different places with her bike.
Her YouTube channel documents her adventures as she explores her country with her friends from her cycling group, Team Rapido. Wearing their colorful biking clothes and goggles, it is hard for them not to be noticed on the busy streets. Since the Philippines is mostly sunny all year round, cyclists have to protect their eyes from the harsh sunlight. Sunglasses and goggles help them to deal with that.
“In 2019, I became more active in cycling,” She said. “Unfortunately, when the pandemic happened, I had to stop riding. I then started my own YouTube channel and became a cycling content creator.”
Before the movement restrictions, Lourdes and her team enjoyed riding around Tagaytay City - a place that’s mostly frequented by city-dwellers and locals due to its cool temperature and the stunning view of the Taal Volcano, one of the world’s smallest volcanoes.
“The last time I went there, it was so foggy and cold,” She recalled. “When we’re not riding in Tagaytay, we also like to ride in Laguna Lake. Although it’s more challenging since they have more uphill trails. But upon reaching the deck, the view is just so satisfying and relaxing.”
When asked about her plans once the pandemic ends, Lourdes answered: “I want to ride longer distances with my team. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later.”
For Ryan Van Duzer, another cycling content creator with 139k subscribers to date, there is a sense of excitement as people are becoming more interested in cycling. As someone who lives in Boulder, Colorado, he feels lucky that it is a very bike-friendly place - especially for someone like him who likes to explore a lot on his bike.
“We have hundreds of miles of bike paths and cycle routes,” Ryan shared. “Drivers are used to seeing bikes on the roads, so there’s usually a mutual respect and they pass with care.”
He hopes that even after the pandemic, people will turn to bicycles more as a primary mode of transportation. “Bicycles are great for our health, the environment, and they make cities safer. And it’s just plain fun!”
While the pandemic has brought the world to its knees, an unexpected good thing happened: people who were not as health-conscious as before were suddenly showing interest in exercise by doing outdoor activities. In a time where mobile devices and other electronic gadgets are prevalent, this was astounding - but in the best possible way.
Although no one is exactly sure when the pandemic will end, the events of the crisis have surely inspired a lot of people to switch to a lifestyle that prioritizes their health and wellness above anything else. And with the growing demand for cycling-related products in the middle of the pandemic, it certainly looks like that even when this ends, the biking boom is here to stay.