Is Cycling becoming as British as Big Ben?

The London 2012 Olympics may have come to a sad albeit spectacular close but for cycling it was the start of something special rather than the end. With a Team GB performance dubbed the ‘greatest ever’ it’s unsurprising that the glorious games have sparked a new love of sport in the British public but few sports have captured the hearts of the people quite like cycling. Once reserved for the back of the sports section, cycling is now firmly in the realm of the front pages.

First we saw the outstanding success of the Sky team headed by Bradley Wiggins at the Tour De France. He not only became the first Brit to win the prestigious yellow jersey but he did so in astonishing style dominating the whole event. Then rather than going home and putting his feet up with a cuppa he swiftly joined the Team GB cycling squad and claimed gold in the time trial. This was followed by exceptional performances from Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and double gold winning Laura Trott along with the rest of the team. Even before London 2012 in the wake of Wiggins’ win, bikes everywhere were being pulled out of garages, dusted off and hitting the road once again so just imagine the impact the Olympics has had.

Britain has already seen one cycling revolution over the past fifteen years or so kick started in part by Chris Boardman who won the first British cycling gold medal in 1992. The national governing body, British Cycling has more than doubled its membership since 2008 and now stands at over 50,000 members. All forms of cycling have seen a huge increase in participation over the past ten years with everyone at it. From professional track racers, BMXer’s and amateur cycling club members to the weekend riders and family holiday makers leisurely cycling in the Cotswolds. There is also a new breed of fitness fanatics who are spinning their way to leaner limbs and ‘performance activists’ who train hard and clock up hundreds of miles on their bikes every week. Even the daily commute has been taken over by cycling and the modern commuter is commonly seen with a skinny cappuccino in one hand and a fold away bike the other.

So if all this was before our tremendous 2012 success what is likely to become of British cycling now? Tesco reported a 130% rise in bicycle sales after Team GB’s medal triumph at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and even before they knew exactly how stupendous Britain would be at the Tour De France and Olympics, fancy bankers predicted that the cycle market would grow 5% this year.

Great Britain is fast becoming synonymous with cycling in every way. Not only is the Team GB cycling squad arguably the most dominant squad of athletes in global sport today but on a grassroots level you can see and hear it everywhere you go. From conversations in the pub, once purely the domain of the premiership to the neon jacket and skin tight trouser wearing commuters whom are ubiquitous on our city streets.  Only time will tell if Britain will rise up the ranks and sit alongside other European cities where cycling is often more commonplace than driving or whether the buzz will continue after the Olympic frenzy. Even when the buzz does die down our spectacular summer will have undoubtedly left its mark on the children of Britain creating a whole nation of biker kids, which should not only be good for the environment and in tackling the growing obesity epidemic but also the economy according to those fancy bankers.

Have you been inspired to get on your bike? Luckily it is a sport which really anyone can get involved with. As the old saying goes ‘once you learn to ride a bike you’ll never forget’ or something likes that. All you need to do is get yourself a bike, some trainers and some sweats and get going. One of those neon jackets might be useful too.  For the more experienced cyclist there are so many new races and clubs to get involved with and some brilliant bike shops with everything you need to take your cycling to the next level. Whatever level you’re at it’s likely that the British cycling team has made an impact on you this summer along with the rest of Britain.

 

This guest post is from Andrew who works for this website, an online shop of branded bikes. Follow me on twitter @Andyandrewsteph

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