Road Cycling

The Real Reasons Why Brits Are So Good At Bike Sports Are Not What You’d Expect…

The 4 hidden secrets to our success as a nation on 2-wheels


What is it about the UK that produces such good cyclists? Seriously, when it comes to doing amazing things on two wheels, more often than not it’s a Brit in the saddle. Recent history is littered with home grown cycling success – just take a look at the events of the past few weeks:

Josh “RatBoy” Bryceland has just won Round Four of the MTB World Cup Round 4 in Leogang, Austria. Jamie Bestwick won his 9th (NINTH!) consecutive gold medal at the X Games in Austin earlier this year.

“Recent history is littered with home grown cycling success”

Go a bit further back and you have Danny MacAskill’s latest video Epecuén which re-asserted his position at the pinnacle of trails biking. And further back still of course the success of Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and their fellow Olympians has bought out the inner patriot in many of us.

All of which begs the question, what is about this green and pleasant land that produced these world beaters?

1) Hydration

As a nation we love a pint. Or two. Or three. Monday to Thursday we’re dedicated to pub-based practice ready for the boozy main event; a weekend of pints, brightly coloured alco-pops, and fish bowls full of god knows what, all with the aim of getting as drunk as possible as quickly as possible.

We Brits love a good piss-up. Photo: Maciej Dakowicz

But while you might think that would hold us back in the quest for sporting glory, we reckon it probably helps.

As Lemmy from Motorhead allegedly discovered, if you’re going to throw your drummer down a flight of hotel stairs they will bounce unharmed through the otherwise bone-shattering pounding if they’re morbidly drunk.

“If you’re going to throw yourself down a flight of stairs on a BMX or a trials bike, surely it helps to be hammered?”

By the same token, if you’re going to throw yourself down a flight of stairs on a BMX or a trials bike, surely it helps to be hammered?

Learning any of the tricks that riders like Danny MacAskill* do means a lot of heavy, heavy slams. Perhaps it’s our love of a swift pint or six that protects us from broken collar bones and dislocated knees?

Maybe by relaxing muscles and deadening pain alcohol acts like a suit of armour for us Brits, enabling us to be world-beating trial riders.

*Incidentally we’re not for a second suggesting that Danny MacAskill learned his tricks drunk, or gets shit-faced before he tries them. But if you were to ask US to try those tricks we’d have to be hammered to give them a go…

2) Nutrition

We’ve all felt that mix of pride and shame when global obesity statistics are announced. The UK regularly battles it out with our friends across the Atlantic for top spot of that heart-stopping list.

And let’s face it we all like to win something now and again, don’t we. Of course we hear a lot about the health implications of our ever expanding waistlines, but what about the benefits?

Have you ever thought that perhaps it’s the advanced tonnage of the Brits that gives us an edge? Think about it: You know that big guy outside the chippie? If you have him in your team you can enjoy a slip stream big enough for five riders!

Those long tour stages would be walk in le park. And in the Velodrome a year on the pies would make you virtually impossible to pass in the Keirin.

“The mix of pride and shame when global obesity statistics are announced”

3) An ‘Excellent’ Environment

OK so it might not work [it definitely won’t work! – ed] but it’s nice to think that you could swap years of early morning training, painful lactic acid resistance work and monk-like dedication to your bike, for lying on that sofa with a kebab house pizza.

Every country is famous for something. The French have their fine cuisine. Italians are rightly proud of their exemplary tailoring. Argentina produces the best steak money can buy. Ask anybody what the UK is famous for and there is but one answer. The weather.


We don’t have long hot summers. We don’t get snow packed winters. Nope, in this fair isle we get overcast skies and light drizzle. It’s not bad weather. Oh no, bad weather would be scary and exciting. Sexy, even. We just get meteorological disappointment.

Depressing, right? Yes! But have you ever thought that our total lack of sun-soaked skateable tarmac, or powder covered slopes is an advantage? Specially when it comes to mountain biking.

“We are subject to meteorological disappointment”

For starters, the perennially depressing city-scapes fills us with the desire to escape. Only a Brit like Josh ‘Ratboy’ Bryceland, otherwise faced with grey skies and damp streets, could commit like this.

And for seconds, when we do get out into the hills, the lashing rain and thick mud makes us into better, more technical riders. How much harder is it hooning down a Welsh hillside when it’s hammering it down and you can barely see than cruising down some sun-baked southern hemisphere single track?

A case in point, when the World Cup in Cairns was drenched by torrential rain storms earlier this year, who finished on top, miles ahead of the local favourites? That’s right, the Brits.

4) ‘Medication’

Once again, this summer the questionable Legal Highs stall will be among the busiest at most UK festivals. Meanwhile according to the European Drug report, we consume more of the illegal variety than any other country in Europe.

While we obviously don’t condone or encourage any erm.. “nefarious behaviour” here at Mpora, but from molly loving club kids to sandal wearing stoners, drugs are as much a part of British culture as cakes named after Northern villages.


But is our love of narcotics all bad? Think about it. The very thought of pulling a front flip flair on a 10 metre-high vert ramp would be enough to send most mere mortals insane.

And while you could combine decades of experience, training, and clean living to overcome such a mental challenge, you could also take the easy option and get high.

Let’s face it, seeing steel coping racing towards your head as you rotate through two axes is nothing compared to the pink dragons you see emerging from your skirting board after a heavy session on the Cuban Purple Bombers.


So there you have it – the key to why we Brits are so dominant on two wheels: being fat, drunk, high and miserable.

Well, either that or years of hard work, dedication, commitment, practice, and pursuing a healthy lifestyle combined with a booming cycling scene and lottery grant funding. But I know which one I’m choosing to believe in.

Now, where did I put that Pizza di Action menu?

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.