Every July, our TV screens are dominated by two major sporting events – the green grass of Wimbledon, and the men in lycra cycling across France for what is often regarded as the toughest sporting challenge in the world, the Tour de France.
While even the most reluctant of fans is suddenly gripped by the tennis at Wimbledon, the Tour represents a crescendo for a sport that has cemented its place on our roads, in our fitness routines, and in the popular imagination through British success on the international stage.
Cycling in London
Closer to home, this weekend’s Prudential RideLondon event includes what is, according to our data, the most popular cycle climb in the world: Box Hill. Easily accessible from the capital, this iconic Surrey climb has been attempted by over 103,000 people to date.
In a city like London, where you can cycle to work more quickly than you can drive, where millions has been invested in infrastructure that supports cycling, and where schemes like Cycle to Work are encouraging commuters to get on their bikes, it’s no surprise that recent Transport for London figures show cycling in the city is at an all-time high.
Not only that, but data from our Strava Metro team – which works with city planners to help make commuting safer – shows that cycle commutes rose a massive 30 per cent year-on-year in 2018.
While Finnish chief executives are known for conducting their most important meetings in saunas, and golf holds a special place in American business culture, here in the UK businessmen and women are increasingly taking to the road on two wheels.
Mixing business with pleasure
A number of companies now specialise in organising what are explicit corporate cycling events.
The likes of Just Pedal have brought PwC, RBS and Virgin on board, offering bespoke services and pro-level support for curated rides, while community clubs like Tech Bikers, which aims to get London’s startups on their bikes for charity, are growing in popularity.
To understand the appeal, you just have to look at the nature of the sport.
Whereas most sports are predicated on competition, group cycling – especially long-distance riding – is a shared experience. It requires team work, communication, and builds personal connections that can easily and effectively translate into the business world.
Whether it’s a six-hour bike ride, or simply a shared commute, cycling together is a bonding experience that you simply wouldn’t get as part of a buttoned-up corporate drinks reception. Any awkwardness melts away with ease – with plenty of time to talk things through and reach agreements as you take in the view.
And don’t forget the frequent stops that happen along the way to catch your breath – perfect to properly iron out the details over a piece of cake and a coffee (the drink of choice for cyclists worldwide, according to our data).
So let’s encourage more people to get on their bikes, by helping to facilitate cycling in our offices – whether that’s by signing up to Cycle to Work, installing office bike racks, or ensuring that employees have access to showers in the building or in a nearby gym.
As a city, London is increasingly geared towards cycling – it’s time that offices kept the pace.