Who better to answer this question than Richard Branson? Check out his article here.
Well as far as mid-week work outs go, it doesn't get much better. 17 riders turned up at the splendid Manor at Weston-on-the-Green for leg 5 of the Tour de Tech. The sun came out and our ride took us on a loop through the beautiful quiet country lanes through Bletchingdon, Kirklington, Upper Heyford and up to Somerton. The fairly flat course lent itself to some classic sprints during the long flat stretches. Competition for the green jersey was hot!
At the heart of the Tour de Tech is the opportunity to network with entrepreneurs, VCs and professionals from the tech community that are like-minded cyclists. We welcomed more riders from London who had hopped over on the Chiltern line from Marylebone to Oxford Parkway, close to our starting point. The conversations flowed and new connections were made. Bike chat and cycling tips were exchanged. For some, it was the first time they had ridden in a group and experienced the drag effect created by the riders at the front of the peloton. Always a great feeling.
Our tour has taken us anticlockwise around Oxford and we have visited some fine establishments that have kindly hosted us. There are just two more rides to do in this series on 17 August and 7 September - details are on the website and we look forward to seeing you there.
As ever, thanks for all the support and participation!
Tech 4 – Stanton St John
The Tour de Tech finally reached its first mountain stage. Despite rain earlier in the day, the wind pushed the clouds away and the sun came out in time for Leg 4 of the Tour. We welcomed some new joiners and a record number of female cyclists for this ride. Our starting point was the Star Inn in Stanton St John, a village just a couple of miles outside of the ring road Northeast of Oxford. We set off with a long early descent towards Horton cum Studley and wound our way to the foot of Brill Hill. Our peloton spread out as each rider pushed themselves up the steep slope, lungs burning and hearts thumping. The effort was richly rewarded when we regrouped at the Windmill with spectacular views of Oxfordshire.
Having caught our breath, we free-wheeled down the long descent towards Chilton. Several riders adopted the ‘Chris Froom’ position, crouched low and in a streamlined position. After a couple more hills, the peloton rode in a tight formation with Fred Kemp of OUI ‘taking his turn at the front’ and powering down the flat. We all saw our speed increase significantly!
As ever, lots of interesting conversations and networking ensued during the ride. Some riders have started to do business together as a result of the Tour. Finally, thanks to all of you who have signed up and participated in our rides to date. We now have over 120 members signed up and several have become regulars on the rides. Keep spreading the word!
Next ride: Thu 3rd August at 6pm from The Manor at Weston-on-the-Green. See you then!
The Seven Stars, Marsh Baldon
Leg 3 of the Tour de Tech took place from Marsh Baldon on the Southeast edge of Oxford with the Seven Stars, a community owned pub, hosting the event. Despite the hot conditions and risk of thunderstorms, 15 riders turned up ready for the event. Will Axtell of Penningtons led an undulating ride through the quiet roads of South Oxfordshire with his trusty colleague James Went holding up the back of the peloton. Strava stats showed we had only climbed 257 vertical meters, but it felt like a lot more as riders pushed each other up the short, sharp inclines to the shout of “Segment”!
A short mechanical stop presented an opportunity for a team photo and a chance to catch our breath. Conversations then flowed and the networking was in full force. With a couple of rides under our belt, we were riding more confidently as a group and the peloton stuck together well for much of the course. The occasional breakaway was reeled back in, mainly for the networking opportunity…
Returning to the pub, we tucked into to steaks, burgers and fish & chips while the local Morris dancers gathered for a summer performance! Were they from the Penningtons team too?
Thanks all for joining. Roll on Leg 4 on Thursday 20 July at Stanton St John, where we take on Brill Hill for fantastic views of Oxfordshire. See you then!
TdT Leg 2
The Harrow Inn, West Ilsley
This leg of the Tour began at the Harrow Inn in West Ilsley, nestled in the rolling hills by the Ridgeway. We prepped our bikes overlooking the local village cricket. The sound of leather on willow was soon drowned out by the bike chat of the eager tech entrepreneurs, VCs and professionals who were gathering. Peter Wrighton Smith, CEO of Oxford Immunotec had planned the route and as a 'warm up' had just done a first lap of the 40km circuit.
We set off. Up two short climbs that spiked our heart rates early. We regrouped and after recovering our breath, the chat continued. Bikes, tech, deals, hiring, Oxford, IPOs, raising money - just some of the many subjects covered. Before we knew it we were half way round. Our efforts were rewarded as the route led us through some spectacular countryside, the wheat fields turning gold and views that stretched for miles. This is what cycling is all about!
We rode together, but occasionally, someone shouted 'SEGMENT'! The competitive spirit took hold and riders jutted forwards for a short sprint or climb. Heart rates spiked. We slowed, caught our breath, regrouped, continued our conversations.
Fine pub fare and a well derived pint greeted us back at the Harrow. Smiles all round.
Perfect conditions for a cycle in the countryside – a warm, sunny and still evening. Clad in lycra, we each took a moment to briefly introduce ourselves. A broad church of entrepreneurs, CXOs, VCs, lawyers and consultants. We set off from the Bear & Ragged Staff pub in Cumnor.
The peloton was large with 20 riders and we set off onto the quiet roads west of Oxford. Remarkably, no one got lost or dropped as we made our way down the lanes and across various junctions. The group stuck together well, and every junction or stop was an opportunity to strike up a conversation with another rider. We cruised at a steady 25kph, but there were brief moments when some riders broke off to race up a hill or down a flat stretch – with such a group, the competitive instinct was never far away!
We ended back at the pub for burgers, fish & chips and more conversation.
Roll on the next one from West Ilsley!