A lot of people picked up road cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I've had the privilege of having a front row seat to the "Emergence of the COVID Cyclist" phenomenon. I'd like to write about it from the perspective of a regular road rider. I hope you enjoy this read. It is an "Ode to the Covid Cyclist"
Picking up a new hobby as an Adult is Rare. I applaud new Covid Cyclists for taking the leap.
My adult friends have settled into their lives. All have fulfilling careers and busy family lives. Some have young children. Carving time out for a new hobby is an incredibly low priority for them. Many don't have a regular hobby. The few who do, tend to stick with an old one. Few pick up a new one.
When was the last time your adult friend picked up a new hobby? Pretty rare on my end.
I have pitched cycling to them, but nobody has ever seemed keen. I can't blame them. Purchasing a road bike is an incredibly expensive endeavour. It's also rather intimidating. Tell any casual about riding 100km (60 miles) and it seems like an impossible task for them.
I'm not exactly sure what mix of factors got my adult friends into cycling despite these hurdles. Perhaps it was the boredom of being stuck at home for months. Perhaps it was not knowing how long the pandemic will last that got people to try a new exercise.
But I sure am happy they took the leap.
Making New Adult Friends
Cycling is an incredibly social activity.
Yes, the seasoned riders (myself included) tend to do more solo rides than group ones, but what makes cycling enjoyable is the company. Rolling out of bed and riding to meet your friends is nice.
What I have noticed over the years for myself is that I tend to stick with friends I know. People i've ridden with over the years. I notice that the older I get, the less likely I am to make new friends. It seems to be something people just accept as they age. The older you get - the fewer friends you have.
While a shrinking pool of friends isn't necessarily a bad thing, I suspect one's ability to make and keep new friends reduces the chances of isolation and loneliness during adulthood. This directly contributes to an increased level of mental health and happiness.
For this, I am incredibly thankful for the new friends that I have made from the pool of new Covid Cyclists. Ironically, if COVID-19 hadn't happened, i'd not have made a lot of new friends who will be a big part of my life in the coming decades.
Amazing Hidden Talents Emerge
I have had the privilege of riding with some really strong riders. Men & Women who push me to be a better version of myself.
What surprised me the most during COVID-19 is the sheer quality of talent among people who picked up cycling during the pandemic (Covid Cyclists). While my sample size may not be representative of the Covid Cyclist population, there is a sizeable percentage of these new riders who are talented.
Riders who can ride tempo at 35 kph (22 mph) for hours despite only picking up cycling for a year. Riders who can push 200-300 Watts and more when they need to.
I believe COVID has unearthed a new generation of adults who are incredible bike riders, who'd probably would have never ridden bike had they not been nudged into doing so by the pandemic.
Covid Cyclists have helped me rediscover my passion for cycling.
I have never admitted this, but I did find myself in a bit of a "cycling-rut" for a few years leading up to the pandemic.
I was riding the same routes, at the same pace, with the same people and having the same conversations. Monotony was eroding my passion for riding to a point where it became almost mechanical to ride a bike. I'd roll out of bed, get on the bike and go do the same ride i've done for years.
I did feel a bit detached from the hobby I loved.
That changed when I met a bunch of wonderful new adults who see cycling through fresh eyes. These people are filled with so much enthusiasm that it becomes infectious.
Throughout COVID, these new riders helped me reconnect to the rides I did. It was no longer mechanical, but felt intentional and fulfilling. What a good hobby should feel like. There's something about doing an old route with riders who find it fresh and new. That enthusiasm rubs off on old me and brings me joy. I am thankful for that.
I've also been lucky to meet Covid Cyclists who are adventurous and invite me to interesting, challenging rides. They push me out of my comfort zone and out of my cycling rut. One example was a mad hatter ride where we went to hit all the climbs we could find in Singapore in a single continuous loop. I've never done such a ride before and never considered it. It genuinely surprised me and me feel like a newbie again. That feeling of being challenged rekindles one's passion for an old hobby.
Perhaps I have been in a cycling rut for far too long and meeting Covid Cyclists helped me get back to enjoying my rides again.
For that, I will be eternally thankful to the Covid Cyclist.
This is an Ode to the Covid Cyclist.
Great article Yuva. It’s so nice indeed to see new cyclists on the road, and new friends.
For me I was a road cyclist before COVID but I too got through some changes during the pandemic…. And discovered the country I live in, through cycling.
If you ever get the cycling boredom again, please check https://wandrer.earth. It is super addictive and gives great motivation to find new places to cycle to.