John Elsbury is still better known as Bikeman, even though he closed down his Alpine bicycle store and repair shop last year. He still gets around on two wheels a lot, but is noticing fewer cyclists from out of town this spring.
“COVID-19 has changed events,” said Elsbury this week. “However, a lot of these cyclists get started earlier in the year. Throughout the winter you see touring cyclists in town. I still see a few of them.”
Couch surfing, crosscountry-riding cyclists are still passing through towns and cities across America. Elsbury has been that person before, and is willing to stick up for them these days.
“What do you do with a person on a bicycle that just got caught in this mess in the middle of the country,” he asked. “It’s quite easy to remain six feet away from other people. We might want to pop in to a convenience store, but we don’t even need gas. We’re not as big a part of the economy as the RV folks.”
When he retired, Elsbury passed on a good haul of spare parts to his former associate at the shop, Jeff Allen. Sitting among the piles of wheels and spokes, Allen said he hopes people can get out and ride their bikes this spring just as much as they always did.
“Endorphins are great,” said Allen. “They are the most marvelous things to lift your spirits and take your mind in a direction that’s not negative, scary, or lonely.”
He thinks there is still room for some cyclists to pass through Brewster County in the coming weeks as long as they proceed with caution.
“We can actually practice social distancing, and enjoy the things that tourists come out here to see as far as the landscape and the flowers coming out,” said Allen “It’s about the solitude anyway. Yeah, we got the chili cook-off and other big events, but that’s not what most people come out here to do.”