We don't have a crystal ball here at road.cc but we do have a picture of one, so we thought we'd gaze at that and try to sum up where we think cycling's going to go in 2009. Here's how we think it'll roll: what do YOU think?
1. A race season to remember. Armstrong back. Basso back. Three grand tours to savour. The Vuelta starts in Holland (well it did used to be the Spanish Netherlands – that was about 500 years ago mind) but the route favours climbers, a quite fantastical Giro route with all the climbing at the start and a really long time trial near the end, and the Tour (check out the fly through below) sticking to the sunny bits of France only and chucking in that finale on the Ventoux.
Plus the old firm back to take on the new firm, it's going to be really hard to make any of that boring…
2. Higher bike prices Vs credit crunched consumers
Cycling is very much in but more people are likely to be feeling the pinch in 2009 just as exchange rates and economic uncertainty is forcing bike prices up… something's gotta give. One thing that might help is the continued growth of the various bike to work schemes – that government tax break for bike buyers is going to look even more attractive, while it lasts.
3. Big year for sportives
Sportives and mass participation rides of all sorts get even bigger. Check out cyclosport.org and everydaycycling.com for the evidence. With the pound about to achieve parity with the euro we're predicting a good year for British sportives in particular. Hey, and maybe we'll have good weather too.
4. One gear rules!
The irresistible rise of the urban singlespeed – makes more sense in more places for more people than a fixed.
5. Roller racing
Coming to a pub near you soon – the big brewers are always looking for a way to entice people into pubs, this could be it. Roller racing is the new darts! Well, you can hope!
6. “Bad cyclists”
More crackdowns on “rogue” cyclists riding on the pavements or without lights. Now, we don't condone either activity. Unless you've got a good reason to do it, riding on the pavement is pretty dumb. Mind you, that hasn't stopped plenty of councils creating 'cycle lanes' by painting a white line down the pavement. And while it makes a nice headline there's no real evidence that these cyclists are a menace to anyone other than themselves. Nor is there a recognition of why some people might feel forced to ride on the pavement.
There has been a noticeable upsurge in police forces announcing crackdowns on errant cyclists. Edinburgh, Bath, Bristol, and Oxford,have all had such operations recently. As more people take to two wheels in 2009 expect a lot more of this as it's an easy PR win for the police and it panders to the prejudices of those who feel in some way threatened by the rising numbers of cyclists, Leslie Philips spoke for them on the BBC recently.
The fact remains pedestrians are a lot more likely to be injured by a car on the pavement than a bike. In fact the people most at risk of injury from pavement cycling are the cyclists themselves.
7. Lock it or lose it!
Cycle security – one to watch according to trendhunters.com. It is certainly a topic that a lot of talented designers are turning their attention to, we covered the Cyclehoop last month and there is the Putting the brakes on bike theft exhibition running in London at the Royal Society of Architects until the end of the month plus the bikeoff website which is dedicated to helping designers come with better cycle security. We had a look around the beta version of their Design Resource section back in October and we'd heartily recommend it to anyone who has a bike to park anywhere.
8. More cycle routes…
… That aren't white lines painted down the pavement. More money on cycling infrastructure and more infrastructure attracting more cyclists – in the last few weeks we've been deluged in Sustrans announcements of partnerships and agreements between the organisation's Connect2 arm and councils up and down the country for new schemes funded by lottery cash. Cycling England too is weighing in with advice and match funding for schemes in Bristol and Cambridge. Building work on many is scheduled to start now and the new routes and facilities will start to come on stream over the next couple of years.
9. Doing it all night long…
Coming to an airfield or stately home soon… Enduros for roadies, this year someone is going to make it work. It's not a new idea and there are some good small ones like the Jole Rider 12 Hour but it's time that road cycling had a cycling festival of the same size and vibe as Mountain Mayhem.
10. Electric bikes…
Soon but not now. The hype says 2009 will be the year of the electric bike, we're not so sure: bikes are built and shipped in dollars and euros so already pricey electric machines are going to look even more expensive. Demographics and continued technological development (particularly in batteries) is on the leccy bike's side – they ARE coming.
Two to watch…
There will be no escape, and who'd want to anyway. Whatever happens it's going to be a great ride. 2008 was a fruitful year for the great man with news of his return to cycling, the announcement that he is going to be a father again, and the release of his 2005 Cabernet wine, Cuvee 7. 2009 is going to be way bigger he is certainly going to get plenty of publicity for his fight to promote cancer awareness, but even though the Giro organisers seem to have bent over backwards to give him the race on a plate, we don't believe in fairy stories – sorry (watch that one bite our arse come May). As for the Tour? Time stands still for no man, even Lance. This is the Contador era.
The UK's first cycling city is starting to look a bit of a worry, slow to get going, and pulling back on some of the plans that have been announced. It's no longer early days and it is starting to look worryingly like this could be an opportunity frittered away. The grumbles are getting louder and while they aren't registering much outside Bristol at the moment … we're just outside Bristol and we're going to be watching.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.