A good many years ago my wife and I took up the latest sport that was all the rage then, windsurfing. Many a long day was spent falling off and getting back onto our original "Windsurfing" board. As a beginner you are quite satisfied with light winds and spending time with friends on the beach, however as you get more experienced you look for more challenging winds and locations. The days of sitting on a beach on a warm sunny afternoon get replaced by high winds, surf and storm conditions.
Windsurfing was the sport of choice for a while. There were windsurfing shops everywhere. It became an Olympic Sport in 1984. All sorts of new gear was introduced. Short boards and small sails for high winds and surf became the items of choice.
And then as suddenly as it had become a massive sport it seemingly disappeared. Shops closed. A new sport, kite surfing, materialized and now in a recent interview I saw the UK's Olympic Silver medallist say he doesn't receive any sponsorship only some funding from the Lottery.
I have always been a cyclist. I have used a bike from a very early age as a means of transport. Over many years, though, I have seen the bike get marginalized by increases in road traffic and easy access to cars fueled with cheap petrol. Why cycle in the rain and wind when you can sit in a nice comfy warm car.
Suddenly, however, with the UK's success in the Tour de France and in the Olympics, cycling became all the rage. Everywhere you went you saw people out on bikes on their Sunday rides. Bike shops popped up selling all sorts of new and expensive gear. Cycling events sprouted up everywhere with thousands joining in. The only factual cycling statistic we have is number of bikes sold and in 2014 3.6 million units were sold up from 2013 by 0.2 million.
However, in 2015 and now 2016, bike sales are now leveling. We have experienced a decrease in sign ups for the various charity events we run. As cyclists get more experienced harder and harder challenges are being sought out. My son recently completed the Newcastle to London ride (300 miles) in 24 hours. The bike seems to have transformed into a means for racing and extreme sports only and the day to day use of the bike as a means of transport has been all but forgotten. For the first time ever I have started reading about bike stores running into trouble and even closing down. I have personally experienced car drivers becoming more aggressive and less tolerant toward cyclists.
So will cycling go the way of windsurfing? We will see, but after all the immediate hype surrounding the Olympics and the various Tours has died down I am always reminded of a talk given by the late Alastair Cooke in one of his "Letters from America". He was talking to a friend in the States and his friend said "My goodness those Brits they love their tennis don't they". Mr Cooke replied, "No the Brits love Wimbledon, not tennis".