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HEALTH| 14.01.2022

Cycling like a pro has never been easier 

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This is due to the technology available and the social network profiles of cyclists.

The bicycle boom brought about by the pandemic and the growing policies that encourage the use of these autonomous vehicles in their different formats, as well as the increase in lanes and bike paths in large cities, has led many people to choose two wheels as a means of transport. And of these people, some have decided to take up cycling as a new sport when they learn of its enormous health and mental benefits.

Spain is—thanks to its good climate and the huge love of cycling, both road and mountain biking (and increasingly other more extreme variants such as BMX or downhill)—a country where the use of bicycles has been growing exponentially since the second quarter of 2020. Proof of this is the enormous problems of stock shortages in the bicycle and components market of an industry that has emerged strong from the public health crisis , which has called into question the production models that until March of the fateful 2020 had been adhered to. In fact, the major bicycle brands and the entire component industry used to produce mainly in China and Southeast Asia. Today the pre-pandemic production rates have not recovered, but many manufacturers are looking for alternatives, for example in Portugal, which closed out 2020 producing 2.7 million bicycles, thus surpassing Italy as the leading producer in the European Union.

But back to the riders, those who choose cycling as a sport as we said, they have discovered how easy technology makes training and progressing for them in this sport with the help of professionals. And how is this possible? Simply because the technology is becoming more and more affordable and because professionals, ex-professionals, and influencers from the big brands are regular generators of content on social networks, mainly on YouTube and Instagram, the most popular social networks for sharing videos.

Without getting into price debates (you don’t need to spend a fortune to get started in the world of two wheels), bicycles, components, and wearables—or devices to measure performance—such as mobile phones, smart watches or GPS devices, are increasingly within the reach of anyone. Years ago this was only available for top-level competitive sport. The proliferation of applications with geolocation, which lets you plan routes and training sessions, has meant that anyone with a smartphone can train almost like a professional. And if we follow the guidelines and advice that the leaders of the big races, world championships, and Olympic Games tell us on their social media profiles about training, technique, nutrition, rest, and recovery, there is little left for us to do other than give our all in each ride and enjoy this great sport even more.

Another factor that makes cycling an increasingly popular sport is that you can do it alone. You don’t have to sign up anywhere. There are no fees to pay. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money on equipment if you don’t want to. You simply need a bike, basic equipment, and the time to go out and ride, which makes it a sport that fits into the pockets and schedules of almost anyone who has the motivation and can and wants to get started in it.

Cycling also offers many alternatives depending on your taste, time, and ability level. As we said at the beginning, there are different disciplines such as road cycling, mountain biking, BMX, and downhill, with road and mountain biking being the most popular. And each discipline requires the use of a specific bike with its own characteristics, even hybrid or touring bikes that combine road and mountain bike properties. Without forgetting e-bikes which, although more expensive than a basic bicycle, help people who are not very fit to get started in this sport, or for older people—for whom climbing a hill can be hard work, but who are eager to keep riding— to continue in the sport.

Cycling to promote tourism  

Every day we see more BMX tracks being built in urban areas or bikeparks in mountainous areas that in winter are used as ski slopes and the rest of the year are used for downhill riding, which is gaining more and more followers every year. This gives us the impression that another great benefit of cycling is as a tool to promote tourism. Every day it is more and more normal for cyclists from all over the world to travel to the cycling cathedrals, climb the mountain passes of the world-famous tours, and also go to ski resorts to ride downhill or climb mountains thanks to e-bikes, which make mountain biking more accessible to enthusiasts.

The use of livestock trails and old pilgrimage routes is also increasingly encouraged, such as the Camino de Santiago or the Camino Real de Guadalupe in Spain, for example. Using greenways (old railway lines converted into cycle tracks) allows the emergence of altruistic projects such as the Montañas Vacías or what is known as the route through Spanish Lapland, a circuit that runs through much of España Vacía (empty Spain) between the mountains of Albarracín and the Alto Tajo through the provinces of Guadalajara, Cuenca, and Teruel.

There is a new type of bicycle touring on these types of roads, off the national road network, called bikepacking, which consists of trips lasting several days in which you carry everything you need to camp and survive on your bike, traveling through these more unpopulated areas with immense scenic and human value.