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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