One silver lining of Covid 19 is it’s causing a bike boom, at least in the US. Sales in the past few months are almost double their normal rates. I learned about this an interesting way. I broke a spoke on my Trek. So I called my local bike shop to make an appointment and found out the wait time for any kind of repair was five weeks! It turns out their sales of new bikes had surged so much that the staff was swamped just building up the new bikes that were flying out the door. So I called the bike shop in Gilroy, which is a bit bigger, but they are backed up almost as badly. I speculated it might be increased commuting or errand running, because people might be shying away from buses and other transit. But I wasn’t noticing a big increase in bikes on the street. I did however, see a noticeable uptick in ridership on the Coyote Creek trail, so I figured the surge was more for recreation.
That is indeed the case, as confirmed in this article, which confirms recreational use all over the US is way up. This is a good way to avoid cabin fever, as you can quickly get away from crowds and still be following social distancing guidelines. The US has 40,000 miles of recreational bike trails, a number which is still increasing rapidly, and will soon overtake the number of miles of interstate highways (47,000). The rails to trails movement of converting defunct railroad lines to trails has so far contributed 24,000 of the bike trail miles. This will increase dramatically if the INVEST act passes congress. Designed to fund improvements to the nation’s transportation infrastructure in general, it also earmarks funds for bike trails. I has already passed the house and is now being reviewed by the senate. It has bipartisan appeal so I am hopeful.
Getting my Trek working
Anyway all of this is good news but it still left me with several weeks to wait to get my e-bike back on the air. I couldn’t fix the spoke myself because the gear cluster is on so tight I couldn’t get it off to get to the spoke. So I bought a decent replacement wheel on the internet for $120 which wasn’t a bad price. But I forgot there are now two types of wheel hubs. The old standard has quick release skewers, like on my Trek. But a lot of the new bikes have frames that support thru-axles, like on my road bike. This wheel arrived and was compatible with thru-axles. It turns out this is an opportunity for small entrepreneurs to provide a converter, which I then ordered. This also means the new wheel can also serve as a spare for either of my bikes. After the converter arrived the wheel worked like a champ, except the rear disk brake was rubbing badly. The disk rotor was just a bit further inboard on the replacement wheel, and the brakes would not adjust far enough to accommodate that. Fortunately I was able to shim the rotor out on the hub. With shipping delays it ended up taking a couple of weeks to sort all this out, which I finally did earlier this week.
Enjoying Going Longer
I had not realized how much I missed the Trek. I love my flat-bar road bike (Specialized Sirrus) too, But with electric assist, you can’t beat the Trek for going longer distances. I am not afraid of overdoing it because if I end up too far from home and have to fight my way home with a headwind, I can just bump up the assist.
Also I watched the inspiring video Fully Charged on Amazon prime about living life to the fullest. One part of it is about Katherine Jeter. who discovered cycling later in life and rode her bike 3000 miles across the US, at age 72. She mentioned feeling stronger as the event went on. That fired me up about doing some longer rides, of which I’ve already done a couple on the trek this week.
The first was a return to Harvey Bear County park for a bike-hike. I pushed the Trek to the top of Willow Springs trail, which has some steep sections. But the bike has a nice “pedestrian assist” feature which causes it to propel itself at walking speed. so you don’t have to drag the weight of the 45 pound bike uphill, you just have to drag yourself while guiding the bike. There is a much longer but less steep return trail, which I’ve never liked on foot because it seems to take forever. But having dragged the bike up with me, I could ride it back down, which was very enjoyable. Between the hike and the round trip ride to the part, this took 3 hours.
A couple of days later (yesterday) I rode the trek to Santa Teresa park. First I visited a different part of the park, the historic section converted from an old ranch.
After poking around the historic part I doubled back to the trailhead for Coyote Peak. This time I pushed the Trek to the top, again taking advantage of the pedestrian assist for the steep sections, and then had a fun descent down to the pavement, followed by a nice ride home. This outing totalled four hours. I’ve noticed I can get away with several hour exercise sessions like this if the pace is not too high. Higher volume at lower intensity, or lower volume at higher intensity, both are fine for me. Higher volume at higher intensity is not, it can make me antsy later in the day making it hard to sleep. It’s nice when you have enough experience to have that figured out.