Members of the Qiyi bicycle club climb a hill on a rural road during a group ride through the Baihe River Canyon in the northern outskirts of Beijing, Wednesday, July 13, 2022. Cycling has gained increasing popularity in China as a sport. A coronavirus outbreak that shut down indoor sports facilities in Beijing earlier this year encouraged people to try outdoor sports including cycling, which was only a major tool of transport before 2000. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) BEIJING —
Lindsay Mo couldn’t go to her gym after Beijing shut down indoor sports facilities in May because of a coronavirus outbreak. So she started cycling — and soon fell in love with the sport.
“I realized a racing bicycle was quite different than a regular bike,” she said. “It’s very fast and exciting, and I couldn’t stop anymore.”
Bicycles have long been a means of transport in China and once outnumbered cars on city streets. Now cycling is increasingly also seen as a sport by an urban middle class that has benefited from China’s growth into the world’s second largest economy. What began as a niche sport about a decade ago has turned into a mini-boom.
Biking events organized by Beijing cycling club Qiyi tallied about 10,000 participants over the past year, with about 50% of them regulars. Nationwide, at least 20 million people are participating in the sport, according to the Chinese Cycling Association.
The pandemic has played a role, with authorities moving quickly to close non-essential businesses — including gyms — during outbreaks […]