If the number of bike events lined up for 2013 is an indicator for the health of the bicycle industry then the needle has swung far away from ‘stormy’ and into ‘fair to middling’ territory.
If you’ve made it past that questionable metaphor, I’d like to draw your attention to one new non-trade-y event coming up – August’s RideLondon. At the press launch in 2012 year us press types heard from Olympic champion Laura Trott and London Mayor Boris Johnson, among others, who pitched the event as a ‘London Marathon for bikes’.
This clearly stuck a chord with me and the phrase stuck in my head all these months since, and believe me there’s not a lot that does manage to cling to my sieve-like memory.
As a child I remember watching the London Marathon avidly on a Sunday morning. Admittedly watching fund raisers dressed in daft costumes played a (huge) part in my enthusiasm for watching the annual event, but it captured my imagination and made a lasting impression as something I never wanted to miss, where I could admire the perseverance and endurance of both the athletes and the ordinary (or not so ordinary) men and women taking part.
Happily, RideLondon has signed a contract with a major broadcaster – Marathon broadcaster BBC, in fact – which will ensure it will beam the event into the impressionable minds of youngsters the country-over.
Virgin London Marathon CEO Nick Bitel said at the time of the contract signing: “The BBC has been a vital partner of the London Marathon since it started in 1981...its coverage is a key ingredient of the event's success and popularity, not only in Britain but across the world...we hope [it] will ultimately enjoy a similar high profile as the marathon, particularly as RideLondon develops over the coming years.”
I am firmly with Bitel on this one. Call it unfettered optimism if you like, but an annual fixture like this, set against the landmarks of London and broadcast to potentially millions, is no bad thing for cycling.
Admittedly, watching the Marathon hasn’t made me into an avid runner (more a 'steady walker'), so me claiming a televised RideLondon will convert armchair sports fans into cyclists is a bit rum. But if it can break down a few ‘them and us’ barriers and encourage a few young minds to admire some cycling prowess, heroes and heroics, all in a homegrown environment, then the sky is the limit for cycling. I just hope they remember to include some daft costumes.
Are you looking forward to RideLondon? Or any other key events in 2013? Let us know at email@example.com or in the comments below.