Look upon me, for I am glory.
Last month, for two weeks, the Oxfordshire Bike Challenge was held. I had been told about this challenge the year before, and this year, through a bit more jabbing, I decided to sign my company up. The goal of the challenge is to get as many people in your company, department, or organization onto a bike for 10 minutes. That’s it.
At the time our closest competitors would have to put down 63% participation to win. The fact that more than half of the company bikes to work meant that I could easily top them at 65-70%.
As a company we’d never actually won anything outside of the – obviously important – business that kept our paychecks coming and the building upright. I thought that through some mild prodding this would be an excellent group activity.
This would be easy.
And so, without a blip, we were soaring high above all the others. Deal done, case closed, we’ve locked this up. I had visions of a moderately sized trophy and cheering. Maybe a little shoulder carry around the bike rack. There would be cake.
But then, we got competition. The people who were at 63% decided to make it real. They even posted pictures of themselves in company-logo bike jerseys.
That’s right, company-logo bike jerseys. Those jerseys, by the way, are not generally cheap.
We responded by placing not one, not two, but three people who hadn’t ridden bikes in a million years (or ever) on bikes. One of those is actually sticking with the program and barely runs into walls anymore.
They responded by signing more people up. Perhaps they waved even fancier jerseys in front of their eyes.
I responded by giving a passionate 200 hour (or 15 minute) speech at our pizza meeting about the man who learned to ride a bike for this challenge. And then, when everyone was pretty much full to bursting with pizza, I begged them to get on bikes and ride for me and for that man.
And they did.
By this point the trophy in my mind was now the size of one of the Premiere League cups. There would be cameras that would wait patiently next to an engraver who would, at midnight when the challenge was over, be rushed to the sidelines to carve in our name.
When everyone finished we started working tactics. How many people would be added as challenge finishers and when. We pondered how late we could add names and how stable their website would be.
And the last day came.
A few hours before it was over, I added a name.
They added two.
I added another two names.
They added a few more.
Back and forth we went until all seemed lost. The imaginary engraver was carving their name into the trophy of my mind.
And then, at 11:59 the last name went in.
And we won.
Two weeks of begging, pleading, statistics running and people actually on bicycles – and we won. The imaginary trophy was getting its ribbons tied on. People in the stands screaming, crying, tossing spider monkeys in the air.
I got permission to get cake.
We gathered around yesterday and greeted the person running the challenge, who was slightly embarrassed as she had spent the day “just dropping the prizes off at reception.” She handed out the plaques (three – we had two first place and one third place finish) and then… then… she pulled out the trophy…
But it was ours.
So I took it home and dressed it up a bit for photos, and today it will hold a place of honor on top of the water cooler as you head out the door to the stairwell. And every time people wander into my wing of the building they will be reminded that for a two-week period we were a unified front of terror on two wheels. No one could stop us. We were saving CO2 for goodness sake.
And we have an egg cup to prove it.
In your face fancy jersey team.