15+ self-guided bike tours to get you out of the stay-at-home rut

ROANOKE, Va. – Thinking of hitting some handlebars to release some global pandemic stress? Here’s what you need to know.

May is National Bike Month, but because of this coronavirus pandemic, the celebration will look a little different this year.

First, the League of American Bicyclists, the organization that promotes the national month, moved National Bike to Work Day and Month to September.

Second, National Bike Month won’t necessarily focus on using your bike as an alternative mode of transportation. The focus will be more on encouraging people to ride, whether for a good time or for the physical and mental health benefits.

To join in the celebration, RIDE Solutions in Roanoke has launched 19 self-guided bike tours, including scenic views and scavenger hunts featuring local artwork.

“It allows people who may not have been out to explore on their bikes. It gives them a self guided tour so they don’t have to worry about where they are going, they don’t have to worry about how difficult it is, they can just take their time and explore these connections between neighborhoods that they might not have known how easy it was to get there otherwise,” said Tim Pohlad-Thomas, outreach and communications specialist at RIDE Solutions.

RIDE Solutions plans to launch tours in the New River Valley, Lynchburg, Danville and Martinsville throughout May.

Downshift Bike and Brew in Roanoke is also participating in National Bike Month.

Right now the group rides and most of its community activities are off and the cafe isn’t as busy as they’d like, but the bike side of the business is.

General Manager Kelsey Harrington told 10 News they are seeing more interest in the bike.

Bicycle sales in April doubled compared to April 2020. Regarding bicycle repairs, there was a 62% increase compared to April 2019.

Harrington said: “We’ve definitely seen that increase, we’ve seen bikes coming out of sheds that haven’t seen the light of day in a very long time. So it’s really exciting for us to see people getting on their bikes.

For Downshift, the plan is to keep the momentum going for National Bike Month. The shop offers gifts and virtual chats.

The next virtual conversation will be today, Tuesday, May 5, from 3-4 p.m., with Ken McLeod, policy director for the League of American Bicyclists who lives in Roanoke.

Downshift’s group walks and most of its community outreach activities are currently on hold. To follow upcoming events and the cafe, click here.

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