Since COVID-19 began, our activities have been limited and our universe has shrunk. I know we’re not alone in this; so many people have been limited in what they can do during this time. But we found that one activity still brings us so much joy—biking as a family on our local trails.
RTC hopes these tips will help you embrace and enjoy winter riding, but, if you’re new to it, just take it slow. Start by testing your equipment and comfort level with shorter, close-to-home trips, and ride with a buddy, if you can.
Trail riding encompasses my fondest childhood memories and confirmation of my life partner. It grounds me to myself and makes the world around me my home. I lost that connection during the pandemic, and I have realized that rediscovering the trails around me—my #TrailMoments—makes me feel whole and like the world will be ok.
Getting outside right now, especially on local trails, can provide a wealth of benefits to your body and mind—once you get in the habit. Some of the most common trail activities—biking, skating, running—can burn over a thousand calories in an hour’s time. And being out in nature—especially right now, as more people are staying home and cool weather is making people less inclined to step outside—can strengthen your resilience and mental health.
The beauty of autumn also means cooler temperatures, earlier sunsets and sometimes less-than-ideal weather. For the many of you who picked up biking for the first time this summer or returned after a long hiatus, the thought of braving colder weather while riding might feel intimidating.
Across the country, some trails spiked to levels more than 200% higher than the same time last year, according to trail count data released by RTC in July. Currently, trail use is still far exceeding previous usage; since the pandemic began, RTC’s trail count data shows that usage has been 60% higher [on average] than in 2019.
Vincent Viars is running for his life. Both his mother and one sister had suffered from heart problems and diabetes, passing away in their 60s. Another sister had triple bypass surgery and several stents. Overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle, Viars’ gnawing fear of dying grew as he approached middle age, so he decided to make a change with a health journey that began one literal step at a time.
As I contemplated how to incorporate a good cardio routine into my life, I challenged myself to create a structure that would not only help me and inspire others to stay committed, but also helped those more severely impacted by the pandemic. Hence, my blog Ride Bikes. Eat Local. was born.
While my moments on the trail can’t fix the systemic inequalities that women face, or the uphill climb many of us are facing during and after the pandemic, these moments on the trail can help me rebuild my resilience. And they are—as often as I can create them.
One significant way millions of Americans are addressing their mental health needs during the coronavirus is through frequent activity in the outdoors. In Lincoln, Nebraska, where I live, the city’s robust trail system has been packed with more cyclists, roller bladers, runners and walkers than I’d ever encountered before in a spring trail season.
“For me, the special part of those experiences has been having so many different types of people participating,” enthused Keith Russell. “You have families come out with kids and people who are in their 70s and 80s. I’m always so thrilled that you have such diversity; birding doesn’t just attract one section of the community or one type of person.”