No, it’s not the new golf—road cycling is cheaper and easier than ever, and it’s ready for a makeover Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ .
For many, many years, road cycling was synonymous with elitism. Inscrutable rules, costly custom frames, all manner of unguents and embrocations… In the heady days of the Lance Armstrong-era American Roadie Boom, cycling even became known as “ the new golf ,” and anecdotes abounded about Lycra-clad business bros, high on Enervit and ego, making big-money deals as they cranked out the big watts.
Then road riding seemed to lose some of its unctuous, depilated sheen . The Waltons bought Rapha, which made roadies feel all icky and déclassé. USA Cycling got rid of Category 5 and introduced voluntary upgrades , which meant all those lofty Cat 4s no longer had anybody to ridicule. Gravel got more and more popular—its growth fueled in no small part by its very unroadlike inclusivity —and the marketing followed. In turn, riding on very small rocks has now gone from folksy to fancy, and the pointy end of the sport can be just as expensive as road riding ever was.
Ironically, the result of all of this is a sort of road/gravel inversion . Humbled and stripped of its caché , road riding is ripe for reinvention as an accessible and unpretentious approach to cycling. One […]