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Bikes In Short Supply Due To Huge Demand

big bike
Biking is up along Virginia's Capital Trail, thanks to people looking to get some exercise during the pandemic. This large bike can be found at Four-Mile Park along the Capital Trail. (Photo: Ian Stewart/VPM News).

This Fourth of July weekend is expected to be busy on the Virginia Capital Trail. But if you’re looking to buy a bike to take on a ride, you may be out of luck.

When stay at home orders took hold months ago, people looking to get some exercise flocked to bike shops. According to the trade group NPD, bike sales for April hit $1 billion nationwide.

That’s no surprise to the salespeople at Carytown Bike Company in Richmond. 

“We’ve sold out of hybrid bikes, cruiser bikes, entry level mountain bikes, even like mid-level mountain bikes--completely sold out of those," said Grant Fanning of Carytown Bikes, which has three locations around the region. 

Fanning said bike manufacturers didn’t predict this kind of boom. 

“They only had so much inventory available,” Fanning sad. 

Fanning said he doesn’t expect any new bikes in his shop until later this month or possibly until August. 

At Outpost Richmond, a combination bike shop and market in Forest Hill, owner Braden Govoni said sales have been significantly higher than last year--especially in mid-price range bikes, which they sold out of. 

“We’ve had customers come in, especially for inexpensive or like sub-thousand dollar mountain bikes, that’s kind of the first thing that have been picked over,” Govoni said. 

As soon as the threat of the pandemic was on the horizon, Govoni said they immediately began contacting vendors.

“In the case of some of our vendors, we were literally like, grabbing sometimes like the last of certain things they would have,” Govoni said.

If you don’t have a bike to ride the Capital Trail, don’t worry. Cat Anthony, executive director of the Virginia Capital Trail, said not having a bike isn’t stopping people from hitting the trail. 

“We’ve seen roller bladers, we’ve seen runners, and walkers,” Anthony said. “I think a lot of people are going on on the Capital Trail to relieve stress.”

Anthony said she expects to have a lot of activity this Fourth of July on the Trail, which  stretches 52 miles from downtown Richmond to Williamsburg.

Since March, Anthony said she’s seen double digit increases of use.

“In March we saw a 65-percent increase in ridership. In April we saw a 46 percent increase and this past May we saw a 77 percent increase,” Anthony said.

June showed the same increase, she said. And by the end of the year, they hope to hit over 1 million users.

“So far this year we’ve had over 550,000 counts, Last year alone, total, we saw over 800,000 counts. So our numbers are up dramatically,” said Anthony.

If you do head to the trail this holiday weekend, Anthony said you won’t be alone. With double digit increases over the past few months, she expects that trend to continue. 

Most of the state entered phase three of reopening this week, and experts are still advising people to practice social distancing while exercising outside.


Ian M. Stewart previously was the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.
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