Cycling becoming the number one sport this summer

July 10, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

With most league sports cancelled or limited to practices only this summer, and many more events being restricted, a lot of people are turning to other activities to keep active and enjoy the outdoors.

The lack of team sports and group functions has created a huge surge in the popularity of cycling.

While long distance road cycling is still popular, it is mountain biking and trail riding that most people seem to enjoy and local trails have been filled with riders this summer. 

Getting out on the trails provides exercise, a chance to be outside, and it naturally allows for physical distancing from others during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

The demand for bicycles, accessories, and repairs, is keeping a local bike shop working hard to keep up with the demand.

Cycling Elements, is having one of their busiest seasons ever after being in business for nine years at their Wellington Street location.

The shop features sales, accessories, and repairs for all types of bicycles.

Shop owner, Jeff Lemon, has been in the business since he was a high school student.

“This was a high school summer job that never ended for me,” Jeff explained. “I started working in a bike shop in grade 9. Because there’s no formal education for working on bikes you just have to learn it from working in a store. I grew up working in a store and I really liked it.”

Jeff returns the favour by employing students in his shop.

He has two grade 11 students working as junior mechanics, a university student, and several regular mechanics who tune-up and repair bicycles that are brought into the shop.

With a huge increase in popularity in the sport this summer, Jeff said his shop is busier than ever. His store has a steady stream of people arriving and looking for repairs 

“Bike stores are really busy this year,” Jeff said. “We appreciate our customer’s patience as we get through everything.”

With the increase in popularity this summer, he said many people are getting back to cycling after not being on a bicycle for many years.

“It is drawing people from all over the place. One of the things we’re seeing right now is people are bringing these 20 year old bikes out of their basement and coming here and saying ‘I need this fixed.’ Some of them are in good shape, but others, you can imagine what they are like after not being used for 20 years. We’re trying to find a balance here. We’re trying to find a balance between getting people riding and doing it properly. People have to be patient. It takes time to fix a bike. You can’t just put air in the tires and think everything is going to work fine. You’re baseline rider is always there and it’s always seasonable. What we’re seeing that is new is this huge influx of families wanting to ride together and that guy who used to ride in high school and stopped riding when he turned 19. Now ten years later that person wants to start riding again. It’s bringing all these new people into bike shops. We had a group of people who used to go to the gym. They stopped going to the gym and started coming here to buy bikes. We had a distinct two -week period were gym people came in here to by bikes.”

The sudden interest in bicycles and related items has caused some shortages due in part to demand and some supply line interruptions.

“We can’t cant get tires, we can’t get parts,” Jeff said. “The demand has shot up exponentially.”

You may see groups of club riders on country roads in the region, however, most cyclists are turning to off road type riding.

“It’s all about trails and dirt roads,” explained Jeff. “Road cycling has been on a sort of steady decline for the past five years. People are sick of the cars, and they like the added safety of riding on the trails and dirt roads. In our area we have a lot of 

dirt roads so it’s easy to do.”

As for the business side of things, while many companies are struggling or changing their business model to keep up with the times, Jeff said their sales are booming – a direct result of the times and renewed interest in the sport. 

“Our sales are up – we’ve exceeded our best previous year by 50 per cent. Common bike accessories are selling out. Comfortable seats, kick-stands, bells, kid’s bike tires – they’re all starting to sell out.”

In a region with an abundance of riding trails and off road areas, cycling is the sport that can get you outdoors while enjoying some healthy execise.

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