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There has been a noticeable increase in the number of people cycling in the Waitaki district during the Covid-19 lockdown – and the trend has been good news for Oamaru’s specialist cycle stores.

When Victor Nelson Cycles Oamaru reopened on Tuesday last week, owner Pat Conn sold four new bikes on the first day of business.

“There are certainly people out there doing it, that’s for sure,” Mr Conn said.

“Within the last half hour I’ve had three people – two at the door and one on the phone -who haven’t ridden bikes for ages and they’ve dragged them out again.”

Bike sales and repair work at Martyn’s Cycles in Thames St had been “crazy”, cycle technician Brent Martyn said.

“The last week, and up until now, we can’t really keep up,” Mr Martyn said.

Many people were rediscovering cycling during the lockdown, for travel, exercise and enjoyment – and it had a positive impact on their physical and mental health, he said.

The increase in business had gone some way to make up for the loss of revenue in Level 4, he said.

Cycle Ventures’ Wansbeck St workshop was “definitely” busier than normal, owner Rob Connolly said.

“It is really busy in the workshop, which is great,” Mr Connolly said.

“I think it’s really cool that everyone has used that time and got outdoors.”

There also seemed to be more people making an effort to buy new bikes locally, rather than online, he said.

While it was hard to compete with large online retailers, Cycle Ventures could often match prices if asked, Mr Connolly said.

March and April were traditionally Cycle Ventures’ busiest months, especially for Alps 2 Ocean cycle tours and electric bike hire.

“On the tour side of the business, we lost a lot,” he said.

However, about 65% of Cycle Ventures’ previous cycle tour market was made up of domestic travellers.

“We can’t survive on 65%, but we’re hoping we can pick up the numbers – even if we could push it to 80 or 90%,” he said.

All three cycle stores hoped the momentum would continue after lockdown, but expected winter to be quiet.