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It's golf v cycling in the battle for the middle-aged travel dollar

Cycling is the new golf, part #4,925

If you're fed up hearing that cycling is the new golf, click away now. Golf tourism really is declining as cycling travel picks up, according to the WTM Global Trends Report 2014, released yesterday at World Travel Market in London.

The trend is particularly marked in the US, where golf has declined since the 2000s from around 25 million players to 19 million in 2013. The number of cycling enthusiasts grew from 3.5 million in 2012 to 3.8 million in 2013, according to Elliot Gluskin of cycling research firm Gluskin Townley Group.

Middle-aged men in check polyester have become middle-aged men in Lycra (MAMILs), says the report, as a portion of what used to be golf's core demographic has taken up cycling, and instead of travelling to play golf, they're travelling to ride bikes.

MAMILs are attractive to tourism operators because they spend more, the report says. Travel Oregon found that cyclists on overnight trips within the state spent 20% more than the average overnight traveller. Just as some areas of France have become destinations for riders wanting to emulate their Tour heroes in the Alps, Oregon has attracted cyclists with good roads, bike-friendly business programme, and scenic bikeways,

But the MAMIL cycling boom could be fragile. Gluskin warns as today's middle-aged men get older and fewer children grow up with a passion for cycling, a decline could follow.

Golf is striking back, though, with resorts targeting young professionals by offering Wi-Fi access and putting courses.

And as we've reported before, cycling may be the new golf, but some retailers think skateboarding is the new cycling as blokes in the lower reaches of middle age seek to relive their youth.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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truffy | 9 years ago

I used to live near a golf course that backed on to a common that was a site of scientific interest. And the frickin' club wanted to expand on to the SSI. Should be the other way around IMO. Golf courses are a bloody waste of good wild land.

OldRidgeback | 9 years ago

I grew up just opposite from a golf course and never understood the fascination it holds for some people.

drfabulous0 | 9 years ago


TheSpaniard | 9 years ago

I've been playing golf since the age of 12, and still do to a decent level, but got hooked on cycling after taking it up in my mid-twenties as a way of keeping fit through the winter.

Fair to say I don't spend too much time at home with the family these days...

Chris James | 9 years ago

'Gluskin warns as today's middle-aged men get older and fewer children grow up with a passion for cycling, a decline could follow.'


He obviously hasn't been to a Yorkshire cyclocross race! Last Sunday there were 36 riders in the under 8s, 42 in the under 10, and 32 in the under 12s.

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