Unlike indoor sports which have seen their facilities close, cycling has largely been free from China’s strict Covid-19 restrictions
Urban middle class has embraced the sport with at least 20 million people taking part nationwide, according to Chinese Cycling Association
Members of the Qiyi bicycle club ride past the Miyun Reservoir during a group ride through the Baihe River Canyon in the northern outskirts of Beijing. Photos: AP Lindsay Mo couldn’t go to her gym after Beijing shut down indoor sports facilities in May because of a Covid-19 outbreak. So she started cycling – and soon fell in love with the sport.
“I realised a racing bicycle was quite different than a regular bike,” she said. “It’s very fast and exciting, and I couldn’t stop any more.”
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 organised by Beijing cycling club Qiyi tallied about 10,000 participants over the past year, with about 50 per cent of them regulars. Nationwide, at least 20 million people are taking part 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 under a strict zero-Covid approach. Cycling, […]