Ready to ride?

The answer for a whole of people is, “I been riding.”

And the answer for a whole lot of others is, “Yes!”

So I wonder what things are actually going to look like when we are told that it is now safe to do what we were previously told could only be done taking extreme safety precautions?

The first thing that’s going to happen is already happening. People have more or less completely blown off the quarantine. “Been there, done that, man it is boring, and I don’t even know anyone who died.”

Traffic isn’t at normal levels but there’s a ton of it. The air is filthy. The most remote parts of the peninsula are penetrated by the roar and roll of traffic, construction, and lawn maintenance.

At the same time it’s about as far from normal as you can imagine simply because 30,000,000 people are now unemployed. Actually, the number is closer to 50,000,000 when you count the people who are unemployed and don’t qualify for benefits and those who haven’t tried or been able to penetrate the chaotic unemployment benefits systems of the states.

Doesn’t matter for others, though, at least not yet. When the all clear bell sounds, there is going to be a massive binge of activity on all fronts, at least initially, and that includes cycling.

People are going to amass to see other riders and assure themselves that it’s okay, that life is going to go on, that we can resume living the way we used to even though we can’t. People are going to test a grand theory: That contagion will obey the dictates of public pronouncements.

Here in LA, rides like NPR, the Donut, the Montrose Ride, and the NOW Ride are going to be busting at the seams. It will indeed be a two-speed peloton, as those who’ve been riding regardless and those who’ve been training indoors benefit from a consistent level of training that they’ve previously been unable to maintain due to work. This group will contrast rather bleakly with those who’ve cashed the quarantine’s blank check to hang out, watch TV, and clean out the larder.

I’ve seen more “new” people on bikes during the quarantine than ever before, all kinds of people dusting off garage bikes or pedaling newly purchased e-bikes. Two days ago I was riding up Silver Spur and got passed by a guy in flip-flops, shirtless, and shorts as he lazily pedaled a beach cruiser e-bike up the steep grade at 26.

A bunch of those people are going to transition into cycling as their recreation, and some will even adopt bikes as their transportation. The pandemic is going to create a lot of new long-term riders, some from the ranks of the unemployed, some from the ranks of those who want to save money, some from the cager crowd, and some who simply want to have fun with family in the neighborhood.

The group rides will probably thin out after the first big rush of excitement, but maybe they won’t. Maybe people will finally start to recognize what a privilege it is to go outside, meet up with friends, and pedal hard.


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8 thoughts on “Ready to ride?”

  1. I’m curious to see if you’re right. Just because people are permitted to do something doesn’t mean they will. Personally, I don’t see group rides in my near future. That’s just me, is subject to change, and is not intended as a statement of what anyone else should or shouldn’t do.

    1. I don’t see them much in my future, either. And since a big chunk of the group ride demographic is older people (in the South Bay, almost exclusively so), there may indeed be a Great Withdrawing.

  2. Blowing off the quarantine is like ignoring climate change.

    You gonna be sorry.

    Sooner or later.

  3. Quarantine ended when stimulus didn’t arrive, skate parks filled with sand and beaches closed. Family members tested positive, seemed no sicker than normal. It’s not science any more, it’s political.

    1. Looks like that theory is about to be tested. Remember how they said it wasn’t a disease to be taken seriously? And then thousands and thousands of people died? I guess it’s like the melting ice caps. If the water isn’t rising in your apartment, it must not be rising anywhere. If people really took science seriously, there would be no fossil fuel industry. But people would rather ignore science because they don’t understand it. What is it they don’t understand? That the universe and its operations are utterly impersonal.

  4. David Atkinson

    I believe in science and I believe in risk. I raced bikes up until the point that the adrenaline rush I felt before a race turned into anxiety. The change was likely precipitated by watching a number of my competitors being hauled off in ambulances over the years and thinking about the effects on my family and my business if the same happened to me. The price of life is death, what each person is willing to risk to feel alive is different. Helmets reduce the risk of a head injury, you choose not to wear one, I choose to wear one.

    When group rides return, i will choose to ride with my friends and acquaintances, and some may choose not to. Maybe after seeing a number of people being hauled off in ambulances my attitude will change.

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