How the pandemic has expanded the cycling world in the Santa Clarita Valley
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire globe, especially residents in Los Angeles County. With the number of cases increasing daily, it’s hard for residents to get back to their normal lives. Because we have been enclosed in our homes, many of us have been eager to get back to the outdoors. Getting in some physical exercise and a breath of fresh air is what’s keeping many of us at bay. Cycling, specifically, is a great way to maintain our physical and mental health while enjoying the scenic ride.
A Santa Clarita resident who has been cycling for over 20 years has seen changes in the cycling world since the pandemic. Renard Thomas is an avid recreational cyclist who has been using this as his form of exercise.
He is a U.S. army verteran and during the time that he served, he was exposed to very bad air quality and developed problems with his knees. His doctor recommended that he cycle to build his muscles and immune system.
“I’ve seen a lot more people on the trail both walking and cycling,” said Thomas. “I personally think there’s a new group of cyclists that have come about as a result of this combined experience of having to stay in the house, COVID, and the fires.”
Cyclists come in many age ranges and levels of experience. Whether it’s a child or a senior citizen, or an amateur or an experienced rider, it’s enjoyable for all. It’s an interactive and overall beneficial experience, according to Thomas.
“I think there’s a lot of benefits besides the benefit of cycling and breathing and muscular development,” he said. “I think emotionally and mentally it’s a stress-reliever and I also think its a relationship builder because it’s something you can do together with those that you love or care about.”
Thomas hopes that people begin to educate themselves on their bike and the cycling world as a whole. He recommends maintaining your bike and wearing the proper safety equipment when riding because you never know if you’ll get into an accident. He is also excited for the new Trek bike shop in Saugus and the new bike park by the Santa Clarita Sports Complex. Thomas hopes this will bring in new crowds and allow people to ride in a different type of environment.
“We’re really fortunate here in Santa Clarita because people can ride more safely than in other areas because of the bike trails,” said Thomas.
Another former Santa Clarita resident has recently been cycling indoors. Claudia Ron purchased an indoor bike from Amazon, and this has been her form of cycling while still being safe and staying home with her family.
“Indoor cycling helped because it was something I was able to do to be active and be in the house, too. I would watch spin classes on YouTube to help make things fun and it would help me feel like I was back at the gym,” Ron stated.
If people aren’t quite ready to go in public with big crowds or are hesitant due to the recent poor air quality, indoor cycling is a great option as well. With so many new apps coming out such as Zwift and TrainerRoad that are compatible with many indoor bikes, this has become a fun and exciting activity to do inside while social-distancing.
“I’m really looking forward to the development of bikes,” added Thomas. “And I would hope that more people would choose to either ride a traditional bike to work or to commute or even an electric bike to increase personal health and reduce the harm to the planet caused by gas emissions.”
Contributors: Roberto Marcial, Anthony Nubile, and Daniela Perez