The Coronavirus pandemic has upended life in many regards. Businesses are closing, outdoor events are being canceled, and our daily routines are changing faster than they ever have before.
For the regular mountain bikers out there, these changing routines have manifested themselves as more people on the trail and sold-out bike shops. Well, it’s not just you! Mountain bike popularity has increased dramatically in the past few months across the country.
But why is that, and will it last? Let’s take a look at these recent trends.
Biking For Relaxation
We all know that Covid-19 does nothing good for our mental health, and stressors seem to pile up wherever we look. Income, closed gyms, and limited opportunity to see friends are just a few of those stressors, so any avenue towards relaxation is in high demand.
Naturally, detaching from the internet, phones, and news for just a few hours of biking can easily fall into the ‘relaxation’ category – and the secret’s out. Trek recently commissioned a survey on this very subject, and about 63% of respondents said that biking helps relieve stress and anxiety during the pandemic.
It’s not too hard to see why biking is so relaxing. Beautiful scenery, phenomenal exercise, and a short reprieve from society all work together to elevate mountain bike popularity to its highest point in years – cue the crowded trails and ransacked bike stores.
Try it yourself: If you’re looking to get a taste of this relaxation, we highly recommend our fat bike tours that explore the phenomenal parks and desert landscapes around Phoenix, Arizona.
Time to Start a New Hobby
On the opposite end of the spectrum from extreme stress, we have boredom. Festivals are canceled, bars are closed, and gyms are temporarily shuttered. The result? Many folks out there have found themselves with excess money – that would otherwise have been spent on those items – and time to spare. From their perspective, now may be the perfect time to pick up a hobby that keeps them socially distanced outdoors, and fills the void left by closed gyms.
That same survey commissioned by Trek also discovered that 41% of respondents felt that staying active and exercising is their top motivation for riding, and 38% of folks who own a bike now use it for their primary exercise.
So the numbers are there – in the era of COVID-19 people are increasingly turning towards biking to stay active as other activities grind to a halt.
Once again, the evidence is clear. Bike shops began selling out of mountain bikes as far back as March, and have been on backorder ever since. Or a bit closer to home, regular mountain bikers are seeing swarms of beginners hitting the trails left and right.
The question many of us are wondering is: will my trail ever go back to normal?
Try it yourself: If you fall into this ‘looking for the next epic hobby’ category, then by all means give it a try! Our rental bikes open up near-infinite possibilities for adventure around Phoenix Arizona.
Will it Last?
It’s hard saying not knowing, but I’d hazard a guess that we’re shifting to a new equilibrium in which mountain biking is moving away from an obscure specialty sport and into the biking limelight.
The first why is the learning curve. Mountain biking isn’t the type of pastime where once you start, you’re at steady-state for as long as you participate. Far from it! Mountain biking takes significant time and practice, and as you invest those commodities, the rewards and adventures keep growing.
Folks just branching into the sport have plenty to accomplish – and chasing those accomplishments, epic rides, and camaraderie quickly becomes addictive. So I’d predict that many new mountain bikers won’t stop cold-turkey as soon as the bars and festivals start up again.
The second is money. Mountain biking is not a cheap sport to get into – as any participate with 2 or 3 bikes will attest to. Therefore, making the decision dip a toe into the sport is just as much a financial one as it is mental.
Beginner bikers feel a certain pressure to make their investment worth it, and this – combined with the rewards we already covered – dials in the commitment. So, once again, I’m of the opinion that we’ll be seeing increased mountain bike popularity for some time to come.
But who knows! Perhaps fate will swing in the other direction and trails will eventually return to normal, and we’ll be spoiled by a sudden flood of barely used bikes up for resale. Time will tell – but in the meantime, have fun biking and stay safe!