We won’t be sheltering in place forever, and our bikes won’t be propped up against the wall, lonely and unridden, forever.
But when restrictions ease, either mandatory ones or the voluntary restraints you’ve put in place to decrease the rate of infections, and when you venture out into the new landscape, it’s going to look different.
- Consumption. Expect to not care nearly as much about the newest and latest gear. After an extended period of wondering whether you’re going to eat or how you’re going to wipe your butt, the latest ceramic bearings will mean nothing to you. Expect to shut down the bulk of your gear purchasing, especially things like clothing, when you look into your closet and realize that you absolutely, unquestionably, do not need another kit.
- #fakeriding. Expect Zwift and its analogues to be a permanent part of what you call cycling. For many, expect it to be the only thing that you call cycling. Germaphobia is real and there will be many people who simply conclude that reducing physical contact is good and desirable across the board, pandemic or no pandemic.
- Smaller group rides. Expect group riding to have lost much of its sheen for many cyclists. In tandem with becoming accustomed to spinning indoors and not being so enamored of contact with others, even people who still want to pedal outside will be thinking long and hard about whether they want to do it in groups. Expect everyone to feel more vulnerable, more fragile, less willing to dive headfirst into the fray of the competitive group ride.
- Iron stake through the heart of road acing. Having been on a ventilator for years, sanctioned road racing cannot survive this. Expect even the diehards in the biggest racing demographic, the 60+ category, to finally admit that it’s not worth it and that it’s time to do something else. Expect the trickle of new, younger racers to completely go away.
- #fakeracing. Expect pro and amateur events to begin offering indoor spinning that coordinates with or wholly replaces actual races on the road. Expect “sportif” versions of the TdF, Flanders, and Roubaix to offer simulcast races where you can plug in, log in, then clip in along with the professionals as the virtual supplants the physical.
- eDoping. Expect more and more riders to eDope through statistical manipulation as well as the old-fashioned chemical methods. Expect no one to really care anymore.
- Off-road cycling. Expect even more people to transition from the road to off. The isolation, the smaller groups, and the absence of cars will all dovetail with the new reticence that people have to be around others unless they can maintain a safe distance.
- Virtual shopping. Expect bike shops to begin offering shops where you can click on an icon and, like Zwift, use your avatar to enter a shop, be met by a shop avatar, and walk through the store picking and choosing items while talking with staff about the product.
- Video links to everything. Expect Zoom connections in bike shops where you can click on a link and be instantly patched in to someone who can talk to you; not simply a chat or an email.
- Increased use of bikes for transport. Expect huge growth in bikes as transport as opposed to recreation. People stuck at home during the quarantine will realize how completely driving sucks and many will conclude that riding a bike, especially one with an electric motor, is simply a better way to get to the office.
- Increased use of bikes for recreation. Although transport uses will dominate, many quarantined people and their families will turn to bicycles as their primary form of getting outside together. Once the shelter in place orders are lifted, many of them will remain committed to riding. Millions of others will be unemployed and will find that pedaling is a great way to handle the stress of doing nothing. An entirely different group will be cut loose from their offices and will become home-workers permanently, now having the time and motivation to ride that they never had before.
- Reduced exotic bike tourism. Look for fancy Trek Travel-style luxury bike trips to wither and die as people are increasingly broke, cash strapped, and unenthused about potential exposure to disease in foreign climes–whether those fears are rational or not.
- Expanded local bike tourism. Expect people to embrace day trips or multi-day trips based out of nearby locales as they embark on exercise, relaxation, and discovery closer to home.
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