27/03/2015 08:05 GMT | Updated 26/05/2015 06:59 BST

From Niche to Mainstream, What the Cycling Boom Can Offer Advertisers

The idea of an advertising industry cycling competition would have been a laughable notion five years ago. Yet when we put the call out for entrants for the inaugural Adland Cycling Championship we were inundated with entrants from from across the industry keen to swap their Paul Smith suits for lycra and show us who has the fastest lap in media.

It's a microcosm of the huge boom in this sport that has moved at a rapid pace from niche to mainstream. Advertisers and content producers are well placed to capitalise on this 'new boom' with rapidly developing new communities engaging like never before. The buzz that had been humming along for a few years really started to take off at the Olympics. It's an interesting, albeit unintended, consequence of the Olympic effect. Rather than galvanising children across the country, the heroics of Wiggins, Trott et al inspired the middle aged across the country to take to the saddle.

The number of road cyclists is up 12% year on year and an idea of how if has moved from niche to mainstream is clear when you find out there are three times as many participants cycling as there were playing tennis in the UK. Additionally 20% of lapsed golfers have taken up cycling in the past 24 months. Sportives have sprung up across the country and Ride London have an ambition to make this annual event as big as the London Marathon.

This interest in the sport has created a huge media market. Immediate is the world's largest cycling publisher and the market is both strong in print and showing a dramatic rise in digital growth.

As the media landscape shifts from broadcasting to general interest audiences to conversations with communities based around common interests, the cycling community offers advertisers a 'holy grail' of an upmarket audience, passionate and engaged in their hobby and prepared to spend money on it. As we identified last year with our Generation Wealth research the ABC1 40+ year olds are growing in number with their consumer spend increasing dramatically. This market is also proving to be a rich source of new cyclists wanting a low impact way of keeping fit. In Germany 45% of cyclists are 55 and over with 87% of cyclists motivated by health and fitness.

The rise of the M.A.M.I.L (middle aged man in lycra) has been well documented but a more recent phenomenon is the rise of the M.A.M.B.A, yes the middle aged man in body armour is the newest addition to the world of cycling acronyms. The mountain biking boom has taken hold in the last few years with the rise of the MAMBA created by the momentum in off road cycling events, inspirational pro-level success and an increasing proportion of 35-44 year olds wanting to rediscover a hobby that gave them pleasure in youth. The interest in the hobby is being experienced at both a practical level and in media. On Bikeradar, the UK's largest mountain biking site we are seeing huge growth in video views with an astonishing 65 years of content viewed in the past year alone.

Where the industry has been a bit slower is in targeting the female demographic with a potential untapped million cyclists and is something we are looking to address with the launch of Bike Radar for women later this year.

So the future's bright, the future's lycra...and body armour and advertisers would do well to look at ways of tapping into these communities. With the heroics of the Velodrome the spark that lit up this boom, we think it will be the perfect location this Friday to witness some of media's finest compete for the title of Fastest Lap in Media and we hope to see you there.

Duncan Tickell, Commercial Director, Immediate Media Co. Immediate is the world's largest cycling publisher.