Yesterday I spent 2.5 hours cycling in the shopfront window at Sweaty Betty Cambridge.
Not quite as random as it sounds… We had “Le Tour” passing through our historic city and, as a former brand ambassador for Sweaty Betty, they asked me to come and show off some of their new triathlon range during a live cycling promo. It certainly amused much of the crowd, and an alarming number of tourists took photos of me, so at least Sweaty Betty can rest assured that their lovely new cycling top has been seen by many. I am expecting a dramatic rise in sales 🙂
Anyway, I had a thought (or two) whilst pedalling away, admiring the crowds that had flocked to see this momentous occasion:
Do big sporting events actually encourage more sport? Or are they just an excuse for a day off work and a spot of national pride?
I must confess that I find it slightly odd that suddenly every man and his dog wants to go and watch the TdF, when 90% of them probably haven’t ridden a bike in 20 years and they wouldn’t even be following it were the event not in their home country. The same way that people who wouldn’t know an athletics meeting if it hit them in the face, were instantly transformed into die-hard Olympic fans when The Games came to London in 2012.
So it must purely be down to national pride?
Now I am not saying that’s a bad thing. Far from it! I think it’s wonderful to see everyone coming together, proud to be British, and being happy! I can honestly say that it was an absolute pleasure to be out in Cambridge yesterday, despite the crowds (which usually bring out grumpy Amber), because everyone was so HAPPY! I love that. I couldn’t stop smiling myself. Not to mention that all the roads were closed to cars so you could cycle freely down the streets, under cover of bunting and glorious July sunshine. Bliss.
But I digress. The reason for this blog post was to see what people think… Does a big sporting event need to leave a legacy, or does it not really matter so long as everyone has had a good day or week or month (as in the case of the World Cup)?
To my mind, such events are an opportunity not to be missed when it comes to encouraging active participation in sport. If schools are going to be closed, bunting hung and days off work booked, then surely people must feel it’s something worth following up on. I can’t imagine anyone not usually the least bit interested in cycling would take a day of annual leave, unless all the coverage has actually piqued their interest in some way? Perhaps I am wrong and people really do just want to say “I was there” and feel they were part of it.
If that is the case then good for them, because quite frankly a bit of patriotism is no bad thing. But I really do hope that Le Tour has sparked a bit of cycling love. It was quite brilliant travelling into town yesterday without a single car on the road, just people of all ages cycling in for the event. How nice if the roads were like that more often!
Even living in Cambridge (renowned for being the cycling capital of the UK), things are still not massively geared up for cycling. Bike theft is rife, traffic is terrible, many cycle paths are full of potholes, and cycling sportives are still the hobby of middle aged men; not popular with the masses.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you too got to see the race pass by. Has it inspired you to get on your bike more? Should our local councils be doing more to make cycling more accessible? And what about sporting legacies in general: If you or your kids were among the thousands who enrolled at an athletics club following 2012, do you / they still attend? Has it boosted your health and encouraged you to be more active?
I’ve been getting on my bike a lot more recently for obvious reasons (the dreaded quadrathlon is this coming Saturday if you’re wondering!), but I certainly feel that I should not be hanging up my wheels after the weekend.
Get on your bike people, and enjoy!