I see them every weekend. They're often in colorful matching jerseys, riding in packs on the less-traveled roads on the outskirts of town, zipping past some of New Mexico’s finest golf courses.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by recent declarations that cycling is the new golf.
Luxury hotels focused on luring a younger generation of travelers are taking note.
Derek Picot, regional vice president for Jumeirah Hotels in Europe and general manager of Jumeirah Carlton Tower in London, says golf is becoming “old hat.” Biking, he says, is the new sport of choice for wealthy travelers under 45.
“In Mallorca, up to 10% of the air traffic from the United Kingdom includes bikers, and many bring their on bicycles on the airplane,” he said. “it’s becoming like flying with skis or golf clubs.”
Picot said Jumeirah hasn’t put together any specific packages to target theses cycling-frenzied travelers, but in Mallorca, for instance, the hotel is developing a cycle shop to help guests maintain and repair bikes.
At Jumeirah’s London property, Picot said, “we have bikes available for our guests to use and are buying new Smart electric bikes for guests to tootle around Hyde Park with."
Biking is also becoming a popular option for tour operators. Mountain biking, for instance, is one of the options offered by Gulliver Expeditions' new adventure packages in Ecuador.
And it’s an increasingly popular amenity for packages catering to multigenerational travelers. Colorado dude and guest ranches are promoting mountain biking in addition to the traditional hose back riding.
Now, golf certainly isn't dead: The National Golf Foundation estimates that 25.7 million Americans age 6 and older were considered golfers last year -- but that figure is down 4.3 million from 2005.
The good news for luxury resort operators, though, is that golf tourism remains one of the stronger sectors of the golf economy. The National Golf Foundation reports the hospitality and tourism sector of the U.S. golf economy is still growing, from $13.5 billion in 2000 to $18 billion in 2011 to $20.5 billion in 2011.
Still, golf resorts may be well advised to also invest in some bikes and cycling-related amenities.