The cycling industry has seen some unprecedented growth over the last few years. Across the UK and the world, more people are picking up cycling either as a hobby or a sport. With new advancements in the technology behind cycling, we are entering the golden age of the sport as it is overall safer than ever before, and the best bikes can be had for cheaper than in past decades. Let’s take a look at this growing hobby and some of the driving factors behind it.
Increased Interest in Cycling
Interest in cycling overall has clearly risen in the UK by every metric. The annual Sport England Active Lives survey has reported that there are 100,000 more people cycling every year across the UK. Amongst that figure is a large increase of female cyclists in particular, showing that this is not just a male dominated world like in the past.
It’s also worth noting that 41% of the overall population has said that they have ridden a bike at some point within the last year, with most saying they want to do it more often. Motivation behind this trend ranges from cycling as a sport, to recreation, to using cycling to get a workout instead of other methods.
Cycling as a Sport
While cycling has always been appreciated in some way for its health benefits and as a means of transportation, it really has become popular as a sport all over the UK.. This includes both watching the sport, and participating in it. In the past, cycling has had somewhat of a misguided reputation as being a sport that is solely for the rich and those with thousands to spend on custom built bikes. That perception is quickly changing. In fact, according to a study conducted by PokerStars, around a third of the English population cycle every month, which is around 20 million people who take a bicycle at any given time of the month.
Not everyone has aspirations to compete in the Tour de France, but can still enjoy cycling with a team and competing. In fact, British Cycling has reported that they now have over 150,000 members and over 2,200 registered cycling clubs, the most in the organization’s history. All ages are included in the registered members, from young to old.
Major Cycling Events
Cycling has many major events that take place throughout the year in the UK and around the world. These can range from local small scale races, to massive events that are watched in many different countries. Of course, the biggest event most will immediately think of is the Tour de France, which is considered to be one of the most watched sporting events in the world. Cyclists that compete in the Tour de France cover over 3,500 kilometers in a 21 day stretch.
There are also many cycling races that are available right here in the UK. The Fred Whitton Challenge is a popular one that stretches over 183 kilometers. Normally, 2,500 total riders participate in this event. The RideLondon-Surrey 100 is another popular event that has a unique course. Instead of riding a trail over hilltops, this 100 mile course will take you through closed off sections of London and around popular landmarks. There are many more of these exciting cycling events throughout the UK that you can participate in, like the Bealach Mor and the Etape Caledonia. There are many options that are for every experience level, from fun races to support a cause, to serious events that are qualifiers for bigger races.
Why More People are Choosing to Start Cycling (Outside of Sporting Reasons)
While the sport of cycling has been going strong for some time, what are the other reasons driving people to get into cycling now?
Focus on Healthy Living
Globally, we are seeing a greater focus on healthy living. This far exceeds just going to the gym as well. The consumers of today want more options than just running on a treadmill and cycling is an extension of that. Results from the 2018 National Travel Survey showed that cyclists made an average of 17 cycling trips throughout the year, for a total of 93 kilometers. This includes both flat street biking, and trail riding. While cycling does not burn more calories than jogging, it is much easier on your bones and joints, making it the go-to option for many people who are looking for a lighter cardiovascular workout.
Not everyone is looking for a workout either. Some cyclists prefer to hop on their bikes in their leisure time. Getting fresh air underneath the bright sun as you ride through nature on trails is a great way to spend an afternoon. Figures from Sport England reported that over 100,000 picked up cycling as a leisurely hobby in 2018. As more women are picking up cycling than ever before, we also see many more couples cycling together than in previous years. This is a great activity to enjoy alone, or with a group of friends.
Cycling as an Alternative Means of Transportation
With so much media focus on climate change and green initiatives, we certainly see many more people picking up cycling as their main mode of transportation as well. Of course, this has the potential to save you thousands of pounds every year on the price of fuel and vehicle maintenance. Major cities like London are creating more biking lanes specifically to cater to this growing demographic, and this helps cut down on congestion during rush hour traffic.