You see them all year round, rain or shine, powering up mountains, coasting along beach boulevards and zipping through suburban streets—cyclists. And usually in lycra.
Love them or loathe them, if you think the number of cyclists on our roads has skyrocketed in recent times, you’re right, according to Roy Morgan Research.
In 2005, 2.1 million people (or 13% of the population) cycled regularly or occasionally; by 2015 that had increased to 3.7 million (19% of the population). In Western Australia and Victoria, the statistics are even higher—23% and 20% respectively.
It’s interesting to note that cycling participation has risen in all age groups except for boys aged 14–17 years. The number of women cyclists has almost doubled from 9% to 16% , and it will come as no surprise to discover that 22% of men aged 34–49 years—also known as MAMILs (middle-aged men in lycra)—love to go for a spin.
The number of MAMILs and others being inspired to get on their bikes is bound to increase this month as the fun and hype of the Santos Tour Down Under hits the roads around Adelaide. The nine-day event includes the women’s tour and the People’s Choice Classic, culminating in the Tour Down Under from 17–22 January, the first UCI world tour race of the professional cycling season.
While the pros battle it out for various coloured jerseys, there’s another important event happening in conjunction with the tour.
The Bupa Challenge is the event’s mass participation ride held on the morning of stage four, when cyclists can ride the route just hours before the professional riders compete on it.
Part of this challenge is the opportunity to ‘ride for a reason’. Truth be told, most people who don lycra, cleats and vibration-absorbing gloves don’t need any reason to hop on their carbon-framed bicycles, but this is a great chance to make the kilometres count.
‘Ride for a reason’ cyclists fundraise in the lead-up to the challenge, with all money going to the Beat Cancer Project to enable Cancer Council SA to invest in research.
Riders of yesterday’s (20 January) event included cancer survivors and those who have lost loved ones to the disease.
As one participant, Corey, wrote on the event’s website, ‘A close riding friend was diagnosed with life-threatening lung cancer at 32; he had never smoked a day in his life, he had a baby on the way, and was given a very bleak outcome. He put up the fight of his life, and has recently been given the most amazing news: he’s in partial remission. I think it’s time I stepped up and supported the cause.’
Supporting others in need is an important thread in our social fabric. All of us would like to feel that others have our backs when times are tough.
The Bible’s ‘golden rule’ reminds us of that in Matthew chapter 7, verse 12: ‘Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.’ Even if you wear lycra while you’re doing it.