Many articles had been talking about this phenomenon the past few years, CNN, the Economist, the Business Insider, etc., have all published articles discussing this shift. Some mentioned only 40-50 yr olds were jumping into cycling, some say younger professionals are, but we think it’s everyone. It really is happening, cycling is the new golf.
According to the National Golf Federation, golf is becoming less popular every year, meaning less rounds of golf have been played each year. On the other hand, cycling has been gaining popularity tremendously. As the Business Insider pointed out, the stats from USA Cycling’s annual reports from 2011 to 2013 showed there had been a 76% increase in licenses being issued for racing, coaching, officials, mechanics, etc.
Another reason for cycling becoming more popular is that golf takes much longer to complete one game, at a much slower pace. Whereas cycling can be done in 2 hours more or less, and many people would agree and like the fact that more networking can be done during group rides. Cycling also gives people much better cardio workouts, aka the feel good factor, getting the adrenaline, serotonin, and endorphins! All these point to cycling being a better fit than golf, for the fast paced modern lifestyles.
An interesting point was brought up by Paypal’s co-founder Max Levchin, whom the Business Insider interviewed regarding this topic. From his experience and observations, one of the main reasons for this shift in popularity in Max’s surroundings is that nowadays, there are younger executives in Silicon Valley and the East Coast who don’t want to network through a boring traditional sport, where they pretend to like the game, instead, they want to get more “physical”. He says “So you have this current generation of young executives, and they're not particularly interested in walking around slowly. They want to do something physical, especially outdoors. They are very quantified, because that's definitely a thing now: It's not so much fitness as they are interested in fitness that they can measure.” Read more...
Another reason to switch, cycling is a less costly sport compared to golf. Although there will always be a population of cyclists or golfers who are into buying expensive gear, you don’t need memberships and certain status to get into country clubs, you can practically ride anywhere and gather anyone who has a bike and wants to ride. As group cycling amongst the nation is getting larger and larger, you get to see all walks of life coming out to ride. “You see people from all professions,” says a marketing director who is joining a cycling group in Kentucky interviewed by CNN, “doctors, lawyers, firemen, business folks, getting together for rides”.
More and more CEO’s, business executives and associates are ditching their competitive golf games and hopping on a bike to join the group rides for better relationship or team-building workouts.
Just like charity golf tournaments, there are also cycling charities which are on the rise and seems much more meaningful than golf for charity. According to an interview by the Economist, Mr Murray, who is a keen long-distance rider, founded the annual Cycle to Cannes bike ride in 2005. This 60day charity event brings architects and developers together to cycle 1,500km (about 932 miles) from London to southern France every March. It now attracts over 90 riders and has raised £1.5m for a range of charities in Britain and overseas. “Group cycling, and especially long-distance riding, is a shared experience,” Mr Murray says. “Riders often collaborate and help each other out, taking turns to be at the front so that the riders in their slipstream can save almost a third of the effort needed to travel at the same speed. Some riders selflessly volunteer to stay in the front earning them the awe and gratitude of the entire group.”
“If I walk into a meeting and somebody says ‘I’ve done Cycle to Cannes’ it’s a done deal really,” says Mr Murray.
A regular participant of Cycle to Cannes, Jean-Jacques Lorraine, found a very interesting way to read people as well as to bond with people, by enduring a long meaningful ride: “How someone rides a bike can give you a real insight into what a person is like,” says Jean-Jacques Lorraine, also founding director of Morrow+Lorraine, a young architecture practice in London. “Some riders are very single-minded, others more collaborative; some are tactical, others an open book. Some don’t mind being soloists whilst others prefer alliance and allegiance.”