The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a swell of newcomers to our sport. With folks quarantining and working from home, it makes sense—the bike offers a way to escape, with the added benefits of exposure to nature and getting in shape.
But new riders aren’t the only ones suddenly finding an appreciation for life on two wheels. Long-time enthusiasts and even pros have seen their relationship to the ride change during this time, as races and group rides were canceled and face masks became essential accessories.
Canyon has always strived to support the cycling community through an online, direct-to-consumer sales model that makes high-end bikes approachable and affordable. Who better than members of that community to share how they have redefined their relationship to the ride during this unprecedented time? Here are their stories.
Karen Jarchow, Marketer and MTB Pro, Eagle, CO
Between racing and a day job in marketing, I’m on the road most weeks from winter through fall. Once COVID happened, I was either on my couch, at PT rehabbing from a January hip surgery, or riding slowly within a tiny radius of my front door. Since I struggle being in one place for too long, this made me take inventory of my relationships, physical and emotional health, career, race goals—everything. As all this was happening, I endured my biggest life change and deepest heartache: divorce.
Usually, I would dive into an intense training program and ride to distract myself from everything. Instead, I used my rides as opportunities to sit with my challenges and move through them. First on my Canyon GRAIL (set up on my indoor trainer) twice a day for however long my PT permitted, and then, when I was allowed to ride outdoors, aboard my Canyon LUX with a dropper post to restrict the range of motion on my injured hip.
As I was able to do more, I found joy in the backcountry trails that required toughness and focus. Technical riding reminded me of the importance of staying locked on your line of sight. There’s no room to look back or think about anything besides what’s happening in the moment. Riding has become a form of moving meditation that helped me find my flow, stay grounded in the present, and focus on moving forward.
Jose Salvador, User Experience Designer, New Jersey
Recently, my wife completed a 63-mile group ride—her first—from our town in Linden, New Jersey to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, aboard a simple townie while most of the group had multi-speed road bikes.
I was so proud and inspired I decided I should treat her to a proper bike. With local shops essentially sold out, I judiciously researched online and nerded out over bike companies, styles, and components. Soon enough, I discovered Canyon. Everything from the bikes’ industrial designs to the idea of democratizing bike ownership through a direct to customer model felt exciting, disruptive, and futuristic. (I’m a user experience engineer, if you couldn’t tell.)
Suddenly, an odd thing happened: I wanted a bike. Growing up in the Philippines, bikes weren’t for everyone. I had never really cared about not owning one. But the more I studied and learned about Canyon, the clearer it became.
Today, I’m the proud owner of a bike that I know can’t be beat for value or looks—a Canyon Endurace CF with an Ultegra R8000 drivetrain and sleek matte black finish. I know there are more important things going on in the world, but I’m grateful that the first bike I’ve ever owned can be this bike.
Full disclosure—I still haven’t bought a bike for my wife! But word has it the same group ride she completed this summer might be extended to Chicago next year, and she’ll surely need an Endurace CF of her own for that.
Camila Fernandes, Founder of Stamina Racing Collective, Minneapolis, MN
I’ve never been one for staying still. Maybe that’s why nothing in my life makes me feel more present than biking. When I first started riding a year or so ago, a friend told me, “You don’t need to go the fastest or the longest, just show up.” When I do that, I have no choice but to be the best version of myself—breathe in, breathe out, climb the next hill.
When COVID happened, I started training virtually more regularly. I connected with the amazing Fix Studio community here in Minneapolis and surprisingly grew inspired to train consistently than before. For the first time, I’m waking up extra early to squeeze in a few extra miles before work.
What’s changed for me is that the bike has gone from an accessory for my favorite hobby to a tool for empowerment. Riding during this time has taught me so many lessons about life on and off the bike. Things like the importance of setting long-term goals and understanding that accomplishing them doesn’t necessarily make the next challenge any easier. Establishing a winning routine of planning, patience, endurance, consistency, and reflection—and learning to love the process. Being my own source of positivity. And inspiring others to do the same by welcoming people into the amazing self-discovery process that cycling provides.
Cycling is a privileged sport, where lack of accessibility and mentorship is a reflection of the societal inequality and injustice faced by millions of people. To keep advocating for social change, I’ve developed a women’s inclusive race team to inspire more women from all walks of life to ride. I’ve never even raced myself, but I recognize the need for community building in our sport and feel empowered to take on this role.
Braydon Bringhurst, Filmmaker, Boise, ID
From when I was a little kid until now, I’ve always loved riding my bike. I love all types of riding, but if I had to choose a favorite, I’d go for technical climbing and gnarly descending every time. Being a husband and father with a lot on my plate, usually I tend to want to get my bike ride done early and move on with my day.
As I get older, though, I find myself making it a point to truly get the most out of every ride—not just getting it done and over with. This year, that has been especially true, albeit perhaps in a slightly different way. With COVID-19 having brought so much chaos and uncertainty into our daily lives, getting the most out of my ride has less to do with stoke and ripping down hills than it does with giving myself the time to zone out, get a clear head, and just breathe.
To get the most out of every ride, I need one bike that delivers maximum all-around enjoyment, and the Canyon Spectral can literally do it all. It’s nimble, fun, climbs well, descends well, and is built with the utmost attention to detail and quality. Day in and day out I ride my Canyon and push it—and sometimes myself—to its limits. We both keep going.
Tyler Ellis, Canyon Athlete and Coffee Shop Owner, Monterey, CA
I own a local coffee roasting company and cafe here in Monterey called Captain + Stoker. Being a small business owner is never easy, and has been particularly tough during these times. My time and mental energy is wrapped up at the shop during the week, so I need some way to clear my head.
When my first two Canyon bikes arrived on my doorstep, it was the first time I felt like I had the motivation to get out and go do just that. No pandemic was going to stop me from taking a rip down the local trails. The Spectral CFR-9.0 flows better than any bike I’ve ever ridden, and the Torque CF-9.0 is just on a whole different level. It can take anything you throw at it.
For me, right now, riding has given me mental clarity during a very uncertain time. Being an athlete is special and not everyone gets to experience that stoked feeling. That’s the feeling I’ve been able to come back to, and that has made my life just a little more stress free, especially when working as much as I do. Without Canyon, I’m not sure I would have gotten back into those trails when I needed them the very most.
Jess Cerra, Canyon Athlete and Entrepreneur, Encinitas, CA
I recently evolved (not retired) from five years of professional road racing. Now, I wear three hats (well, two hats and one helmet) as a professional rider, private chef/caterer, and entrepreneur. I’ve always been driven to stay busy, brand myself, push myself, and set an example, because to me riding is all about community. As a professional, I have the influence to make a difference in that community, and show others how riding a bike can be a form of empowerment.
For years, I have been an ambassador for Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry and supported their work to end childhood hunger. After this year’s event was canceled, my all-female chef team—many of whom lost businesses or were laid off—kept fundraising and participated virtually. Unexpectedly, I also found a way to rally my community to the cause in person.
I set up two bike-through food drives with Feeding San Diego and the Encinitas Community Resource Center, and the local cycling community came through with almost 3,500 pounds of food—all while adhering to high-level safety protocols.
I recognize I’m privileged to be a Canyon athlete, and this time has shown me the importance of using that privilege to help a population that has no voice: kids.
Because I was that kid. A happy little kid from a small town in Montana, but also a kid that faced food insecurity at times. I know firsthand that ending childhood hunger is about about than feeding kids. When you invest in a kid, you invest in their self-esteem and self-worth, their ability to do well in school, and their outlook on the future.
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