4 Ways the Current Pandemic Has Positively Impacted Mountain Biking

The current pandemic has given the sport of mountain biking an unexpected opportunity for growth and improvement.

COVID-19 has had a lot of negative impacts on peoples’ lives. We are hit with daily headlines highlighting the deaths and unemployment rates resulting from the current pandemic. However, the virus has also had some positive impacts that aren’t often reported. In mountain biking, I have observed four ways the virus has positively impacted the sport.

The increase in purchasing MTB bikes and product

It took 6 weeks for me to get my new fork due to the increased demand for MTB products, but it was worth the wait.

Biking in general has seen a rapid increase in popularity over the past few months. A large number of people have turned to bikes as a form of exercise when their local gyms were shut down as part of the quarantine measures enacted all over the world. Mountain biking has certainly benefitted from this as well. Try to find an entry level mountain bike or certain MTB products and you will be waiting a long time to get them. Our local bike shops are also backed up an average of 2-3 weeks on the service side.

The current cycling boom has the potential to greatly benefit the sport of mountain biking for years to come. The increased revenue will allow companies to invest more money in research and development of new products, as well as invest more money in projects that benefit mountain bike communities and hopefully bring more diversity to the sport. Additionally, many local bike shops will thrive and invest some of their increased revenue into their local trails.

The creation of new trails

Trail Dynamics created 3 new flow-style trails in town recently that are really fun to ride. Photo: Bryon Dalton.

Locally, we had three new trails open up recently. They are the county’s first attempt at creating and maintaining trails (the city, the state, and the feds maintain the other MTB trails here in town). While the trails are currently open to riders, hikers, and horseback riders, they are the beginning stage of a more ambitious plan to build several trails in a large greenway space.

I know there are trails being created in other areas, and I hope this building boom will continue even after the pandemic has ended. New trails give riders more variety and new challenges. They also provide tourism dollars to communities from out-of-town riders who travel to check them out. Communities will need revenue like this to help them recover from the lost business they sustained these past few months.

More civility on the trails

You should always be friendly when riding.

I have observed an attitude shift from riders on our local trails. It is less common for me to encounter self-centered cyclists who act like they own the trail. Instead, I have seen more riders who cheerfully wave and greet me when I pass them. I have also observed more pleasant encounters between riders, runners, and horseback riders. I wonder if the virus served as a wake-up call reminding riders that we shouldn’t take mountain biking for granted. I would love to see this phenomenon continue on, and encourage all riders to be especially civil during this time. More people are using riding to escape the harsh realities of their lives. We need to be mindful of this fact and make their rides as pleasant as possible.

More shared responsibility for trail maintenance

Every rider can help maintain their local trails by carrying simple hand tools like this folder saw and clippers with them on rides. Photo courtesy of Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association’s Facebook page.

Before the current pandemic started, many riders didn’t think about helping maintain their local trails. After all, isn’t that why local bike clubs exist? However, when social distancing guidelines put an end to trail workdays, individual riders had to pick up the slack if they wanted to continue riding their local trails. I started clearing debris away from my local trails on a regular basis, and reported the debris I couldn’t clear to my local trail manager. I noticed a lot of other riders were doing the same thing. We should never take our trails for granted or rely solely on others to maintain them. If we all continue to do our part, the trails will be much better maintained, and that will benefit us all.

The pandemic brought some positive changes to MTB. Let’s help make them permanent.

Like each stone in this berm, every rider helps build up the sport of mountain biking.

The current pandemic has given the sport of mountain biking an opportunity to grow. New riders are buying bikes and flocking to the trails. Mountain biking etiquette appears to be improving, and more riders are taking ownership of trail maintenance. Will these changes last? Only if we help make them permanent. Let’s all continue to positively impact MTB.

What positive impacts on MTB have you seen from COVID-19? Please feel free to share them in the comments below.