Mike is away in the hinterlands this week, and he's doing the whole series on the survey, so we'll have to wait for the remainder of those posts. We appreciate everyone who took the survey, it is a very interesting look at the market. I'm also leaving it to Mike to announce the contest winner (I don't even know who it is), but one of you lucky people will get $100 off a set of wheels.
So, Mike's on vacation, and as he went we talked about how weird it will be to not want to go into restaurants or shops or really anywhere except the great outdoors. The GF and I are planning a mountain biking-centered thing next weekend and we face the same deal. You go out and smash it on the mountain bike for a couple of hours and you want nothing more than to go to American Flatbread and stuff your face and have some beers. And maybe being outside there is all cool and everything, I don't know. But the place where we'd normally stay is closed, so maybe we'll camp, but I don't know it's very confusing.
That's the here and now. What I'm more interested in is what kind of change this longer experience that we're all going through will have. Specifically, what will the aftermath of COVID be on how we use our bikes and who we ride with and how we think about cycling? I think the social justice part of it will have an enormous long term effect (at least I hope it does), but that's not why we didn't have the Ronde and P-R and the Giro thus far, and that's not why basically no one who's reading this has raced this year. Or done group rides. So as societally critical as that part is, I think it has less of a first-order effect on cycling.
Does gravel gain or lose after this? Man was there a lot of focus in the US on gravel this year, and how former pros like Pete Stetina stepping away from the ProTour to do privateer gravel programs, and how ProTour teams like EF had planned to showcase a bunch of gravel and alternate events. I know that the people I ride with have got most of their enthusiasm put into the mixed media events rather than strict road stuff. Will absence make hearts grow fonder?
What about ProTour stuff? Those teams are all hanging on by a thread in the best of times, and now is not the best of times. Will there be some massive reorganization of that whole thing? On the one hand, if they're able to actually run and televise races, the revenue model doesn't change that much because the spectators that aren't allowed to fill the stadiums that cycling doesn't use still aren't buying the tickets they never did. But it's far from certain that the pro race calendar is going to happen this year. I think what a lot of events right now are showing is that COVID can reignite into high gear at almost any time if it's not closely managed.
With bike shops having sold through like every bike that's under $1000 that would have been available this year, and the supply chain kicked into overdrive to try and refill the inventory, are we about to see the mainstream-i-fication of cycling? Or are the world's garages about to have a whole lot of barely-used toys to grow dust on?
For us here at November, it's actually been a solid year. The bike industry and market is so fluid that ascribing any change to COVID is a useless exercise. But we can say that COVID has not killed our market. Our inbox is somewhat more than full, our order book looks great, and that's about that. It could be that our pattern of slow growth just continues and that's what we see, or we've passed some threshold of awareness, or people need to buy wheels to ease the ennui of so many other things sucking. Hard to say.
How has your riding changed, and what kind of changes do you expect you'll see in the future?