Sir Chris Hoy’s success sparks charge of the lycra brigade

Sir Chris Hoy has helped popularise cycling
Sir Chris Hoy has helped popularise cycling
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CYCLING clubs and suppliers have reported a boost in new members and sales just days after Sir Chris Hoy’s triumphs at the Olympics.

Racing clubs said there had already been interest from prospective members while one of Edinburgh’s largest stores said the Games, along with the Tour de France, has seen a rise in sales of 15 per cent on last year.

Scottish Cycling said it now expected thousands of people to take up the sport, having already seen a major boost in interest following the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Edinburgh Road Cycling Club – the largest in the UK, with 630 members – said it had already been contacted by prospective new members keen to join its range of disciplines.

Graham Jones, registrar at the club, said membership doubled in the year after Hoy’s success in Beijing 2008 and there were already signs of a repeat.

He said: “We’ve seen quite a large influx, we went from 300 to 600 in the past few years. And it’s not just young people, a lot of people in their 40s are joining up.

“I’ve already had inquiries since the finals a few days ago because people get inspired to get off the sofa and get cycling.

“In 2007 we created a junior racing section that’s gone from strength to strength, with 60-70 members now and no doubt more on the way.”

The club, along with others, is also expecting greater interest in track racing disciplines when the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is opened in October.

The covered arena will allow for racing in the winter and during rain, conditions which result in many events being called off at open-air tracks such as Meadowbank stadium.

City cycle store the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative said the Olympics and the Tour de France, won by Briton Bradley Wiggins, appeared to have boosted sales in recent weeks.

Ged Holmyard, a director at the firm, said: “We’ve looked at the figures and sales of drop-handle road bikes are up 15 per cent on the same time last year.

“There’s been other factors that affect us as well though, the bad weather which impacts on an outdoor industry like ours has begun to lift and I’ve noticed in the last few days riding home in the sunshine and there’s a lot of riders with big grins on their faces.”

Asked about the ‘Chris Hoy effect’, Craig Burn, chief executive at Scottish Cycling, said: “Sir Chris has been an outstanding ambassador to the sport of cycling throughout his extensive career. From 2008, when Sir Chris competed in the Beijing Olympics, cycling membership has more than doubled within the UK. British Cycling has signed up over 50,000 members.

“Over the last few years Scottish Cycling, the governing body for cycling in Scotland, has also seen a rise in membership. Last year alone saw an increase in membership by over 13 per cent, we have no doubt that the success of British athletes throughout this summer will have an impact on this in years to come.

“Scottish Cycling believes that this is the first step on the ladder to making cycling one of the biggest, if not the biggest participation sport in the UK.”