FARMINGTON – A quick look down the sporting-goods aisles at big-box stores in Farmington and Durango reveals a lack of bikes, as the weather warms and more people are looking for ways to get outdoors responsibly.
John Glover, manager of Mountain Bike Specialists of Durango, said he has heard from several people who say the local Walmart is sold out of bicycles. But he noted local bike shops don’t typically compete with the big-box stores over bicycle sales.
Glover said the wealth of trails and open space around Durango, and the fact that mountain biking is a naturally socially distanced activity, have kept interest levels high in the recreational activity.
He said May is traditionally a very busy month for the seasonal business. Glover said the amount of business is about the same as any other year, although the shop is now operating with curbside service to keep its customers and employees safe.
“We went curbside right away and haven’t had customers in the store since it started,” he said.
Glover said despite the interest in biking, he hasn’t noticed trails as being “super crowded.”
“I’m guessing it’s because we have way fewer out-of-town visitors than we normally would have this time of year,” he said.
The spike in bike sales is not unique to Durango.
Dale Davis, owner of 505 Cycles in Farmington, said he has noticed an uptick in the number of people purchasing bikes and using them compared with this time last year.
“We’ve seen a big increase in people wanting new bikes as well as people pulling them out of sheds that they haven’t rode in years and asking to tune them up and get them set up,” Davis said.
Much of 505 Cycles’ recent business has focused on the latter – servicing and repairing bikes – because of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health orders, which have restricted bicycle shops like Davis’ from selling bikes. After Lujan Grisham’s second public health order, Davis said he was told by the New Mexico State Police – tasked with enforcing the public health orders – that he could offer only repair services. It’s a restriction that doesn’t apply to chain stores.
“So Walmart and Target are allowed to sell bicycles, but bicycle shops aren’t able to sell bicycles,” Davis said. “They’re allowed to continue selling bicycles and other products as usual but small businesses are not allowed to do that.”
Davis said the shop has recently begun holding its Wednesday evening group rides again with a turnout of about 15 to 20 people each ride. He said cycling and mountain biking give people an opportunity to interact in the community, get exercise and still practice social distancing.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a healthy dose of physical activity saying it’s “one of the best ways to keep your mind and body healthy” and to “relieve stress, get some fresh air and vitamin D, stay active and safely connect with others.”
Both Glover and Davis said they are happy to see so many people getting outdoors during this time.
Davis said he’s hopeful the emphasis on outdoor activity and exercise outlasts the pandemic, which might have encouraged people to seek it out in the first place.
“What it seems like is people are not only getting out and enjoying outdoor spaces more, but they also seem to be looking at the health benefits of doing it,” he said. “I think as we return to normalcy, outdoor recreation is going to be more common than it’s ever been.”