It’s been impossible to ignore the massive surge of interest in cycling since the Beijing Olympics, with each year bringing new British victories and more excitement around the sport.
Things arguably reached fever pitch in 2012 when Bradley Wiggins won the Tour De France, Olympic gold and BBC Sports Personality, before picking up a knighthood the following year.
As a result public interest in the sport has never been higher, as demonstrated when up to 6m people turned out to watch the first few days of the Tour De France in Yorkshire earlier this year.
So to ride this wave of excitement Econsultancy has launched the Marketing Cycle 2014, our industry’s very own not-for-profit event that involves a lot of cycling and a fair amount of socialising and networking.
Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein will be leading the peloton as it weaves its way from London to Paris from October 9-11, covering 230 miles in three days.
The deadline for entries is tomorrow (Friday 27 August) so there’s no time to delay.
And in case you’re still unconvinced that this challenge will be a whole load of fun, I found out more about corporate interest in cycling from Adam Tranter, editor of Cyclosport.org and founder of cycling-focused PR agency Fusion Media…
The Marketing Cycle is a new challenge from Econsultancy. What do business people get out of these kinds of events?
There’s very much a personal challenge aspect involved, but from a business perspective it’s an unrivalled opportunity really.
Being able to spend seven to ten hours a day with people from your industry and from similar companies is a pretty incredible experience.
It’s more informal than other traditional networking events and you come into contact with people you wouldn’t have met before because cycling is the common ground.
In my area of business, cycling has allowed me to meet an incredible amount of interesting people that I would never have crossed paths with otherwise.
Business is obviously a part of it, but really these are just people who are ready to enjoy a good six or seven hours cycling in the daytime, followed by dinner and maybe a few hours in the bar.
Have you noticed that corporate interest in these types of challenges has been increasing in recent years?
Yes, it definitely has been. It stems partly from the fact that a lot of senior business people are taking to cycling, potentially ditching their Porsches or their golf memberships and getting out on the road in a far more inclusive and enjoyable way.
It means that quite a lot of the decision-makers in business are out on the road and doing deals at the same time.
I think progressively businesses are also seeing it as a way to engage their employees, because cycling is both a hugely enjoyable participation sport but also a form of transport.
So it’s not a great leap for someone who commutes 10 miles to work each day on their bike to make the step up to one of these longer three-day challenges.
Events like the Tour De France and the Olympics must also have been a key driver?
Absolutely. Public interest really ramped up with the British success at the Beijing Olympics back in 2008, which was followed by Sir Bradley Wiggins’ Tour De France victory and then subsequently a brilliant London Olympics.
It’s also helped by the fact that we’ve got really marketable figures like Victoria Pendleton, Sir Chris Hoy and Wiggins.
Wiggins in particular is someone that really captures the public imagination. He has an attitude and a personality that appeals on a much wider basis.
But another important factor with cycling is that you can use the same equipment and experience the same routes as the professionals. So amateur riders can head out on the same roads as Olympic cyclists, which is the equivalent of playing football at Wembley.
Overall it’s an accumulation of factors that make the sport so popular, added to the fact that, especially in business districts like London, people are cycling as a necessity because it’s a convenient, easy and cheap way of getting about.