There’s certainly been a fight for the best spot on the sofa at Summit Different, with plenty to inspire across a wide range of sports. But naturally, the cycling events were the biggest pull. And if you hung up your cleats and didn’t wear lycra for the duration, who could blame you!
It’s been an epic week or so for cycling. So the road races didn’t quite go to plan, but they were thrilling to watch – even if the road conditions and awful crashes on the downhill sections had us peering from behind cushions. But Chris Froome still managed to grab bronze in the time trial. And then the doors to the velodrome opened. OMG or what?!
Team GB totally dominated, winning six out of the ten gold medals available. There were thrills and spills. There was the controversy of Cav’s move during the Omnium points race. There were agonising minutes of analysis and discussion, not once but twice, during the men’s Keirin final. Becky James proved what a fighter she is, coming back after injury and illness to get two silver medals. We got a great introduction to the new generation of riders coming through, such as sprinter Callum Skinner. The cycling world claimed Jason Kenny and Laura Trott as its king and queen. And Sir Chris Hoy has taken to punditry as easily as he made track sprints look. The racing was incredible to watch, day after day the tension and excitement grew more and more. If we were totally reckless, we’d have hopped on a plane to Rio and set up camp in some of those empty seats.
London 2012 seemed to really ignite an interest in cycling. The Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 was just one part of a legacy programme designed to get people on their bikes. Now in its fourth year, the Pru saw some 27,000 cyclists riding parts of the 2012 Olympics road race route, plus the introduction of a 46-mile course for new and less experienced riders and young people aged 16+.
And whilst Team GB was busy breaking records in the velodrome, British Cycling announced some impressive news, with membership hitting 125,000. In 2012, the organisation had 50,000 members and its growth is proof positive that cycling as a sport and recreational activity really is booming. All over the country, more and more clubs have set up. Over 4,000 events now take place annually – and internationally there’s been an increase in the range of cycling holidays available. Many describe cycling as the new golf – not for nothing has the term MAMIL been added to dictionaries. And whilst women may be a much smaller proportion of this rise in numbers of cyclists, they do in fact represent the biggest growth.
And proof that the Olympic legacy has touched on much younger lives? Another story that broke during Rio was news of Frog Bikes opening a new factory to meet demands for its range of children’s bikes. How great is that, to know that a much younger generation is taking to two wheels. somewhere out there is a future Laura Trott, a faster Jason Kenny in the making – but more importantly, it represents the opportunity for children to fall in love with cycling and enjoy a life-long love affair with The Bike.
Now dust off your bike, go for a ride and celebrate being part of an amazing sport! We’ll leave you with a clip of some amazing cycling skills ably – if rather unexpectedly – demonstrated by Dutch rider Laurine van Riessen. Wow. Just wow.