How Will Cycling Fare When It Is No Longer Hip?

Background Reading


While this article intends to speak to sports like CrossFit which it describes as expensive there are others like the BowFlex and even Richard Simmons exercise tapes that are included.

The author writes:

And yet, does anyone actually use Bowflex anymore, outside of researchers of blog posts?

It’s gone the way of Richard Simmons, Tae Bo, the Slendertone, P90X and, soon, inevitably, CrossFit.

Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons

These trendy workouts marketed by gyms and entrepreneurial athletic trainers come and go quickly, says Walter Thompson, author of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2015.

He further writes:

However, there is one trend that has shown surprising staying power through the years.

“The yoga folks surprise me every year,” says Thompson. He thought yoga would’ve gone the way of Pilates, quickly dropping off the top 20 list. But people who promote yoga, he says, have figured out ways to get new people to try it. Whether it’s Bikram yoga or power yoga, “they reinvent themselves so it continues to be popular.”

He concludes with a premise that is both true and to my mind a bit suspect at the same time:

But if you’re worried about missing a trend like pole dancing or stability balls, don’t be. Because while it’s not a fun answer, the best workouts have stayed the same for a long time, simply because they work. Says Helmle: It’s all about the “basic movement patterns, which incorporate a little bit of strength training and cardio.”

That means walking, running, biking, swimming, lifting weights — activities without gimmicks. While they might be common and too pedestrian for some, they’re cheap, easy and manageable on your own. Let’s see the new trends top that.

Biking Does So Have Gimmicks

All you have to do is take a look at the trajectory of technology like GPS and you suddenly see that walking, running and biking a fraught with gimmicks. Everything from indoor bikes that let you ride anywhere in the world via the Internet. Wrist worn or handlebar-mounted devices are common for riders who want to ‘map‘ their routes. I use one constantly to keep track of the rides I have done.

But there is simply no doubting the fact that Strava has had a negative impact on the ‘image‘ of cycling. Despite attempts to legitimize the technology it has managed to be front and center in at least two nationally known ‘murders by bicycle‘. In both instances a 30-something trying to recapture his youth manages to ignore the dangers of riding in and through pedestrians in crosswalk and kills them.

What Makes Yoga So Long Lasting?

I think that as a ‘hip‘ way of getting around cycling will have the kind of effect on the exercise and transportation landscape that has plagued everything from tennis to RollerBlades and skateboards.

Yoga gets its longevity from two things:

  • It is largely a ‘group‘ activity.
  • Its primary practitioners are stay at home moms.

Cycling (at least the Urban Cycling version) is trying to be both a ‘statement‘ about your concern for the environment and some sort of nod to ‘active transportation‘. In terms of that latter piece I believe it will fail miserably.

Unlike the ‘Dutch Cycling Culture‘ ours is very much isolationist. Bicycle commuters have not only an animus towards drivers and pedestrians (both of who are impeding their ‘forward progress‘ and causing them to ‘lose their momentum‘ (especially true of the knuckleheads who insist on riding ‘fixes‘) but their fellow cyclists as well.

Try do a search of the ChainLink forum for discussions on ‘shoaling‘. Urban Cyclists are far more concerned with making certain that their fellow riders do not ‘jump their route‘ while waiting for red lights (assuming that they still demonstrate such antiquated behaviors) than they are in holding companionable discussions with their fellow commuters.

Only Group Cycling Activities Can Become ‘Sustainable’

Long past that blush of eagerness to get in with the online cycling ‘Whine and Jeez Club‘ so as to ‘bitch and moan‘ about this or that problem of the day or pedestrians or motorists you would most like to see obliterated from the Earth, comes that day when getting up to ride 5 miles to work in a Polar Vortex seems too daunting.

And things get really uncool when you have your first flat on such a ride and after nearly freezing to death on the side of a nasty, icy, slushy and salty road you hop a bus and begin to see the absolute absurdity of avoiding the use of a perfectly good bus on days like this.

What can however change your view is a ‘bike train‘. Bicycle clubs have been offering the equivalent of this for decades. They call them group rides. They can or cannot be the basis for pure transportation goals. Some clubs ride to concerts together. Others ride to dinner and drinks. Whatever the goal there are clubs with leaders who can get you in the mood to do a ride and provide the kind of technical support you may need in the event of the all-dreadful tire failure.

If cycling is to really succeed it will need that kind of impetus.