Cycling - the new golfby Toby Manhire
So often unbeloved by authorities, cyclists' best hope could be becoming the fashion for networking business people.
The neglect of cyclists in so many cities of the world might at last have been given a means by which to gain the ear of the petrolhead power-brokers.
No longer is cycling the pursuit of the budget-conscious, environmentally minded and virtuous few.
It's the new golf, apparently. And that's not the word in some tree-hugging rag; it's the headline in the Prospero blog at the website of the bible for clever business people, the Economist.
Traditionally, business associates would get to know each other over a round of golf. But road cycling is fast catching up as the preferred way of networking for the modern professional. A growing number of corporate-sponsored charity bike rides and city cycle clubs are providing an ideal opportunity to talk shop with like-minded colleagues and clients while discussing different bike frames and tricky headwinds. Many believe cycling is better than golf for building lasting working relationships, or landing a new job, because it is less competitive.
“When you play golf with somebody you have to decide if you’re going to beat them, or let them beat you,” says Peter Murray, a former architect, journalist and chairman of the NLA centre dedicated to London’s built environment. “If they’re a client and you don’t want to beat them you have to sort of cheat in order to lose. That seems to me not a good way of doing things.”
Group cycling, and especially long-distance riding, is a shared experience, Mr Murray says. Riders often collaborate and help each other out, taking turns to be at the front so that the riders in their slipstream can save almost a third of the effort needed to travel at the same speed. Some riders selflessly volunteer to stay in the front earning them the awe and gratitude of the entire group.
That said, the smart people know that cycling and golf are a marriage made in heaven, "saving gas, getting exercise ... quick as a wink". (The neighbourhood dogs seem to like it.)