The Evolution Of Cycling In The USA

Cycling in the USA is not an exponential curve. It would be the case owing to population growth, but there are a lot of external factors that give the curve some spikes. Notable is the emergence of other competitive recreational activities such as football.

Sprouting of cycling

It has been quite a milestone in cycling, starting off with ridiculous bicycle designs. They were ridiculous in that if we were to compare them with 21st-century bikes, the 21st-century bikes are super bikes. We are looking now at a sport that commands respect just like soccer.

During the earlier day’s this was not the case. Cycling received some enthusiasm in 1868, and by 1869 the enthusiasm was sadly fading away. We could blame the loss in enthusiasm to the much strength that it required for perfect coordination of the earlier models.

A better design that resulted in demand and production increase

This design that transits to the modern day bike had two equal wheels, a chain drive, and gears. The design eliminated the most of all the earlier design setbacks. John Boyd Dunlop would later add to the awesome design by introducing the pneumatic tires.

With the pneumatic tires, the bicycles were not only safe but also comfy. People largely embracing cycling for movement and recreation saw the production rising from a quarter of a million to a million in a span of 10 years. Later on there comes a phase where automobiles come to take almost all the spoils.

Some manufacturers neglected the production of bicycles to take on the production of automobiles. In this phase the people you could see cycling were mostly kids. Here we see yet another dive in the cycling evolution.


They say that everything happens for a reason. With automobiles thrashing the use of bicycles there came a stage that there was automobiles congestion. Thanks to the simplicity of the bicycles and the eco-friendliness that the final resort would always be the bike. The bike was the best option for recreation and transportation that had no congestion and pollution repercussions.

By 1970 guess which was the leading outdoor recreation? It was cycling. There we approximately 75 million cyclists in the nation.

After the safety design what we have had is more of better features as the years go on. The cycling scene is bigger and better. In one word it is awesome I so much look forward to the future.

Cycling as a sport

As much as cycling is a means of transport and a recreation activity it is a sport. At a point in time in the history of athletes in the USA, they can proudly claim to be once the highest paid. Amateurs and professional cycling leagues exist. The fun and thrill are overwhelming, and the sport claims a huge following in the U.S.A.

Cycling competitions in the USA go far back in time to 1921 in New York when the bicycle amateur League of America was organized. Before the formation of any of the organizations competitive cycling still took place but without an overseer in the name of a professional body. Before even the modern day Olympic platform starting 1896 in which the USA cycling team took part John Henry Lake won a bronze medal.

In the 1984 Olympics USA got a grasp of the first women medal courtesy of Connie Carpenter. During that Olympic, USA earned a total of nine medals. I attribute this to the increase, yet again in cycling enthusiasm. As we have seen earlier on cycling took a dive in the 1950s and part 60s.

In summary

1850s –cycling took place as a means of transport and recreation; there are no medals to show but be rest assured that it did.

1896 (Beginning of modern day Olympics) – the USA took part with no documented medals

1900 (Paris games) – the USA lands first cycling medal (John Henry Lake)

1904 (St. Louis) – In seven events, USA wins every single one of the medals

1908 (Stockholm) – USA road cycling team wins two bronze medals

1984 (Comeback, Los Angeles Olympic games) – the USA wins nine medals with a first women’s medal by Connie Carpenter

1996 (American invented mountain bike debut) – America wins three medals including one women’s medal.

2000 (Sydney games) – with the addition of four events the medal tally rises to 18 including a gold medal.

2008 (Beijing Olympics) – USA invents the BMX that replaces the time trial event. USA goes ahead to win 3 of the BMX medals

2012 (London Olympics) – the USA wins several silver medals, and notable is the Kristin Armstrong’s gold medal.

2013 (USA host’s the UCI Cyclo –cross world championships, Louisville, Ky)- Katie Compton finish a silver medalist

Professional bodies

USA Cycling is the cycling organization responsible for bringing home medals for the US. It reports to other professional bodies that include; the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Cycling Union (ICU), and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

All the bodies that USA cycling reports to, work toward ensuring that the games are fair and competitive. The role of USA Cycling is scouting for cycling talents. Once they identify the cycling talents, they take on the responsibility to train them.

During international competitions, the USA Cycling officials select the best to represent the country. Initially, before USA Cycling, we had US Cycling Federation and US Cycling Inc. The two bodies merged in 1975 to form what we know today as USA cycling.

It is not until 2009 that USA Cycling moved their headquarters to an approximately two acres of land Northwest side of Colorado Springs. Initially, the headquarters were on the United States Olympic Training Center Campus.


Clearly, USA Cycling has been a huge part of the cycling competitions. Though we have had cases that cycling hit rock bottom, I have much trust in USA cycling. USA Cycling has put a lot of resources in the development and sustenance of the sport. The body works to ensure the safety of the USA cycling sportsmen and women.

About the Author Matthew R. Duncan

I am proud to be the go-to guy among my circle for bike advice. I take it personally when someone I know buys a new bike without consulting me first!

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