Using a professional cyclist as a guest or speaker gives an insight into the professional sport and usually you will find many similarities between a top executive and a professional cyclist. Yanto Barker of ONE Pro Cycling, a professional cyclist for 18 years and owner of Le Col Cycling Apparel:
“As a full time professional cyclist we are often asked about how great it is that we get to ride a bike all the time. Well, riding a bike is my job and as such I have a job to do, I have a duty to myself and the rest of my team that I will be in the best possible condition to race. This means I have to make sacrifices and I have to train very hard to very specific sessions. I usually do my best training alone, no matter what the weather.
There is a joy in hitting the numbers in both training and in a business sense and any business leaders I meet have the same attitude to work: you get out as much as you can, you can’t be lazy, you have to work hard to make progress.
I also have Le Col to manage every day of the week, which requires as much attention and work. Expansion into the US market for our business is an important step and we can’t wait to grow.”
Cycling is a great equaliser. No matter who is riding next to you, you are both the same. You are both tackling the same challenge. This makes people more approachable, barriers are broken and you can converse in an informal way. Physical fitness can play a part but riders are kept together with ride leaders that set an attainable pace. Any feelings of being inadequate or a ‘MAMIL’ soon disappear. Any conversations can slip seamlessly between business, power data, heart rate and equipment. Uniting through shared suffering is true for cycling and sweating next to someone can ensure rapport.
This networking is also extending to ZWIFT – an online home training platform launched this year that enables cyclists to ride or virtually compete with one another, across time zones, to the individuals’ own schedules – the perfect tool to break the barriers down.
So what is the future? The corporate cycling industry is still in its infancy, we just look to create experiences for more companies aligned with their primary goals. Client, employee or fan engagement – we create the platform to unite. Using the bike can provide tangible mental and physical health benefits to both employees and executives alike.
The first networking bike ride you take part in is highly unlikely to be the last.