Matthew King
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Why cycling is the new golf

Cycling is the new golf

What sport needs expensive gear, colourful clothes and attracts its fair share of social activity? If you were thinking golf you are right but you’d also be on the money if you’d had guessed cycling. 

In this article we explore some of the motivators that get people into cycling. Getting into cycling then covers the costs a first timer would be expecting to face. 

I was fortunate to be able to ask a few questions of Dr Martin Cross FAICD, currently non-executive director for OncoSil Medical Ltd, BetterOff and the Medical Research Council National Institute of Dementia Research. Martin has also been involved in a wide range of influential bodies such as Medicines Australia and UTS Graduate School of Heath Industry Advisory Board and was Managing Director of Alphapharm. Martin is a well known figure in the corporate cycling scene and his progression into the sport shares a similar set of experiences and drivers with many of the people that I have spoken to. 

There is often a commonality around an event or group activity that sparked off an interest, a keen appreciation of the beneficial fitness regime and a great deal of satisfaction around shared experiences and comradeship. These experiences are often work related but often as not a purely social activity with those of like mind. 

I have heard mention that cycling is the new golf. Is this something you would agree with and if so, what are the parallels? "I've also heard the same thing! There is no question that over the 5 years I have been seriously cycling I am seeing more and more weekend warriors on bikes, not youngsters but people that I may have seen on the golf course previously. I suspect it is to do with the combination of exercise, competition and camaraderie. There is no question that an early cycle and then coffee on a Saturday morning with a group of mates really does set up the weekend. Not least of which is the discussion and laughter over the coffee."

Business relationships have always thrived around sport, be it golf or otherwise, why do you think this is the case? "Essentially you are always attracted to people that have similar interests and a similar outlook. Only certain types of people are willing to get on a bike and cycle 100km. You have a natural affiliation to people who share the same life experiences."

I often see cyclists having coffee after their ride, how important is the social component to you? "The camaraderie of the road - as mentioned previously we often joke that it is really about the coffee, the bike is just the transport that gets us there! I am very lucky to cycle with a group with an eclectic, diverse group of friends who all do different jobs (politician, banker, lawyer, managing director, GP, surgeon, retiree and reporter). It is like a Saturday morning counselling session and we also have a good laugh. So in my case the social component is also an important reason to ride as well as the health benefits."

How do you manage to fit cycling around your other commitments, be they business or personal? "Really I have to train during the week to keep up with my friends at the weekends! I fit my cycling in during the week by cycling to work whenever I can. Usually 2 or 3 days a week. I cycle from the Northern Beaches of Sydney to the Manly Ferry and then from Circular Quay to the Office, 22km one way (so 44km in total). These days with increased traffic it is almost a quick as commuting in the car."

What got you into cycling in the first place? "I use to cycle when I was a teenager and at university. What got me back on a bike was a 10 day 1000km charity ride in 2005. I have since done the ride every year since then. Many of the people I cycle with at the weekend are also on this ride." 

Could you describe your kit? "I have a training bike (Trek 2300 - 7 years old alloy carbon) and a weekend bike (Ridley Excalibur full carbon). I do wear the dreaded lycra gear and clip in cycle shoes."

Have you a tip or advice for someone thinking about taking up cycling? "Find a group of mates and start with them. Or go to a local cycle club or cycle shop or look up your local BUG (bicycle user group) on the internet. Do not pay too much for your first bike. Like me a good way to start might be a long charity cycle it is a very quick way to ensure you do the training and rapidly can understand what is meant by the camaraderie of the road."

To my fairly new eyes, cycling appears to be very much a lifestyle choice. Like golf, it has its passionate supporters, its brands, its hallowed events. And increasingly cycling is gaining momentum as a recognised social activity, one that also has its fair share of networking. 

But with cycling, as with other sports, individual motivation varies enormously. I spoke to people, up every morning at 5:30 for their solo cruise through deserted streets, dedicated triathletes, practical commuters and a surprising number of people that were cycling to work for environmental reasons. But whatever their motivation they have a common experience, or as Martin mentions, a camaraderie of the road, that allows for a new set of conversations and connections around the water cooler. Getting into cycling covers the costs a first timer would be expecting to face.

Image: © Can Stock Photo - Pavel1964

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