Activity-starved families turn to cycling for physical fitness

By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Activity-starved families turn to cycling for physical fitness
Emilie Comeau and her family prepare to set out down the Grandes-Fourches cycling path in Lennoxville (Photo : Michael Boriero)

With many sports postponed up until a couple of weeks ago, Quebecers were forced to find ways to entertain themselves at the height of the pandemic, leading to many people adopting new hobbies.

One activity witnessing a surge this summer is cycling. People are flocking to local bike paths with their families to take their minds off the everyday doom and gloom brought on by the pandemic.
Elise Marsan and Gaetan Ducharme stopped on the Grandes-Fourches cycling path in Lennoxville to speak with The Record. A pair of avid cyclists, Ducharme and Marsan decided to take their two grandchildren out for a spin on Tuesday morning.
Despite often being overwhelmingly hot, the couple noticed an uptick of cyclists this summer. They said the biggest difference is there are more families on the road than usual. Ducharme believes it has to do with Quebec’s quarantine due to COVID-19.
“I think with the pandemic a lot of people picked up biking,” Ducharme said.“We’re actually from Victoriaville, not Sherbrooke, but in Victoriaville we see a lot more bikes.”
Emilie Comeau was also at the Grandes-Fourches path alongside her husband and three children. They have always gone cycling as a family, regardless of the pandemic, they go several times a summer, she explained.
But she said her family went out for bike rides a lot more in May compared to past years. She said that her children have been very active throughout the pandemic. They weren’t in school, Comeau said, so they spent more time biking and keeping busy.
“Sometimes we’d meet another family there, it’s a way for them to see their friends, but in a distant way,” she added.
Local shops and manufacturers also noticed the sudden interest in bicycles, apparel and accessories. Arkel Inc., a bicycle bag manufacturer in Sherbrooke, witnessed a spike in sales since solo outdoor activities got the go-ahead from the Quebec government.
Arkel’s sales manager, Kevin Ryan, said the orders are coming in so fast that they hardly have any time to actually produce the bags. They sell bike panniers, backpacks, rear bags, frame bags and handlebar bags to local shops in the area.
Ryan also said many bike retailers are quickly running through available stock. People recognized the value cycling has on staying fit and healthy, he added, and with no travel plans, it makes it easier for residents to pick up.
That’s what happened to Comeau. The mother of three said without any vacations scheduled throughout the summer, she started exercising with her daughter. Cycling became another element to their training routine.
“We started to run together because we weren’t going on vacation, so we entered a program,” said Comeau.

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