Having worked in-house as a PR professional in the construction industry, I noticed the frequency with which golf-playing executives disappeared from the office and (to paraphrase Mark Twain) ‘spoil a good walk’ with some business associates. Being blessed with little hand-to-eye coordination and a dislike of plaid trousers, I never took to the game, and therefore never got to entertain clients at the ’19th hole’.
However, I’ve been a club cyclist on and off since the age of 15, and the resurgence in interest in cycling in recent years has prompted me and others to suggest that cycling is the new golf.
As many club riders will know, cycling is a very social sport, with riders meeting up on Sunday mornings for a ride, usually stopping for a cup of tea and a cake somewhere before returning home. And like golfers, cyclists chat to each other as they ride along, and not just about bikes: family, holidays, friends, football, news, their work, etc. Wouldn’t it be great, I used to think, if I could do my business networking while riding a bike….
In recent years, British success in cycle sport, increasing use of bikes for commuting, and the growth in popularity of charity and challenge rides and sportives has made cycling more corporately acceptable. Building magazine, for instance, has organised competitive/social race days at Herne Hill velodrome in south London, and for the dedicated roadie there is also Cycle2Cannes – which sees sponsored cyclists ride from London down to the south of France each March for the MIPIM property show.
Later this month, the inaugural Comms Club Run (tagged #Cyclingisthenewgolf) ride for roadie cyclists in the PR, communications, advertising and media world will take place on Friday 24 September. Organised by myself and Liam Fitzpatrick (internal communications expert at Bell Pottinger), the ride will start at Watford Junction station (north-west of London) at 10am, and will involve about 50-60km of cycling plus a stop somewhere for that all-important tea and a cake. If this first one is successful, we plan further rides in other parts of the home counties (as a Woolwich CC member, I might lead one out into leafy north Kent, for example), providing a monthly excuse for a bit of healthy business networking with fellow professionals. If you’re interested in coming along, let me or Liam know, and – as Liam says – feel free to pass the invitation along to your chums, clients and contacts.
Update (10 September 2010) – the London launch of Cycle2Cannes 2011 is on Thursday 30 September, from 6.30pm at Modular Lighting, Centre Point, 22-24 St Giles High Street, London WC2H 8TA. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan to attend.