“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.” —Mark Twain
We had three goals in mind this year
When we set off on organizing Techbikers 2014, for the third year, defined success as meeting these three goals:
- Get everyone IN and BACK safe?—?we recruited the riders, aligned the sponsors, and took care of the logistics. I’ll take the opportunity to give a huge shout out to Marie Stainhaler, James Mayes, Michael Willmott, Andrew McDonough, Barry Furby, Francesca Dean and Mark Jennings (!) for being incredibly passionate, professional and reliable in helping organize the ride.
- Raise a min of £50,000 for Room to Read?—?we were at merely £25,000 a week before the ride, but in true Techbikers spirit, we pushed and crossed our target during the lunch break of our last day of riding. Last I checked we are at £53,251 before including gift aid and corporate matching. We’re now looking to match last year’s £65,000 and break a new record funding for RTR. Donation page is still open at bit.ly/techbikers2014
- Have fun. The goal of Techbikers is to build a stronger startup community, based on real connections and camaraderie. We got an incredibly diverse group of people and we all feel like we have 70 new friends. We set two rules?—?safety first and we start as a group and finish as a group. Glad we managed to fulfill both!
It started with smiles
After months of conference calls, logistics, emails, tweets, practice rides (for some), all-hands meetings, and countless mindshare, the day finally arrive. After the initial drama that comes with herding 70 techies over the Eurostar (forgotten wallets, people arriving late etc) we all made it to Paris to kick off Techbikers 2014. Two hours on the train, 3 days on a bike.
The full range of human emotion
We had mixed ability cyclists, but not even the experienced riders can say than Techbikers was easy. Our excellent camera man (and fellow Techbiker) Alex Blogg asked me if the first big hill was a piece of cake, I answered that it was more like a piece of hard bread.
We were cold and warm, happy and sad, defeated and elated. I am sure that some of us experienced “Flow”:
Flow, also known as Zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does.
For example, this here’s a video I took with Google Glass going down a hill on day 2:
Weather can also be tricky, and though we got incredibly lucky for this time of year, the heavy showers on the 2nd day, added a bit more difficulty to a long day. We cycled 123km on September 20th, half of it in the pouring rain.
The freedom of the open road
Getting off your laptop and getting on your bike is a lot like entrepreneurship. You are climbing up a hill, in the rain, all alone, and you just know you have to get to the top. You start sweating from places you didn’t think could sweat. Everything hurts but you just have to dig deeper to find the strength to keep going. Quitting is not an option. That effort is what makes you appreciate the beauty of nature and the freedom of the open road. It clears your mind and ironically, it feels easier to process things on the road than in the office.
Getting inspired by others
Sam Strong broke his ankle two weeks before TechBikers but decided to do the ride anyway, with a hand cycle. When I asked him how was it at the end of the ride, he said it’s the hardest thing he ever did.
Michael Willmott and Chris Mairs did ??Techbikers? on a tandem bike called Genevieve. Chris is blind and is Michael’s angel investor. They smoked me and many other riders up the hills.
Tom Alterman and and David Young did 320km on Boris bikes?—?each one weighing 23kg. Tom may have broken the world speed on a Boris bike going down hill?—?Top speed on that Boris bike was 64.1 KPH!
Dan Cobley was in a custom made Brompton in the colors of Room to Read. The bike is getting auctioned to raise more money for charity?—?bit.ly/bromptonride.
Drummond Gilbert rode on his red Brompton for the third year. He forgot his cycling shoes at home and ended up cycling in flip flops (thongs for the brits) with his little speaker blasting music.
William McQuillan did Techbikers on a single speed bike. Imagine that up a big hill. He pledged to wear a pink tutu if he reaches more than £1,000 and luckily we got to see him as a cycling ballerina for 3 days!
The best Techbikers yet
This is the third year we did Techbikers, but it was the best one yet. I’m incredibly grateful to the 4 sponsors (Yandex, Google for Entrepreneurs, Fried Frank Technology and GetTaxi) as well as supporters Seedrs and MailJet, the 1,623 donors, 70 Techbikers riders, and all of the friends and family that welcomed us at the finish line, in what was my happiest moment of 2014.