Are We Willing To Take Risks Outside Of Work ? Let’s Cycle With Techbikers To Find Out!
3 days, 320km, 5000 meter elevation gain, 50km/h max speed, and almost 17 hours on the saddle: this was 2019 Techbickers edition from Perpignan to Barcelona — an unforgettable, crazy and challenging ride for the charity Room to Read, helping young children in need with literacy and gender equality.
Let’s start from the beginning, this amazing initiative Techbikers was founded by Eze Vidra in London back in 2012 and has raised over $750.000 for Room to Read so far. Techbikers is a unifying force in the London tech scene, and a testament to the power of purpose in bringing a community together to do good. In 2018, Techbikers helped to fund 9 libraries in Vietnam, 4 in India and supported 16 girls through Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program.
When you have successfully managed to go through a Techbikers journey, there is nothing else you want to do than spreading the word and bringing more people on board.
We are really proud to have been able to raise $24.000 for the edition that we co-organised with Samaipata and our fantastic sponsors, Heroïn Bikes, Back Market and IIC (Instituto de Ingeniería del Conocimiento).
By their very nature, venture capital investors are risk-takers! But are we willing to take risks outside of work?
Indeed we are! For our first sponsorship and organization of a Techbikers event, we decided to organise the most challenging one and cycle through the outstanding Pyrenees.
But seriously, who would sign up for something like this? A slight understatement of the difficulty level, a meet-up between VCs, entrepreneurs and executives, a nice ride in the beautiful nature between Perpignan and Barcelona (take a look at the mountain landscape and you will directly sign up for next year!), in support of the great association Room to Read as main objective — this is how we, at daphni, described this Techbikers trip to attract participants…and it worked! We managed to involve 40 riders on board, who, besides hating us for 3 days, will remember this experience (and hopefully daphni) forever! This is the strength of this event — you help people getting way off the beaten path, and they thank you a hundred times once you reach the hotel and grab a large beer together. Smart, isn’t it?!
We will all remember the evening before the first day, when the organizers from Cycle Friendly asked us “how often we cycle” and half of the group replied “pretty never”. We could see how they tried to hide their panic inside. A quick look at the weather forecasts with them and the fear increased even more, 2°C at the top of the mountain and a continuous rain for this first day…. but we signed for it so let’s start the crazy adventure!
The first day was the most difficult, for three reasons. First off, the never-ending length of the route, with the last 11km being a high incline climb and the not so very good weather. We rode for hours, climbed-up the equivalent of twice the Alpes d’Huez…in the rain and the cold, and when we thought it was over, we had to climb a mercilessly steep mountain to reach the freezing top (2 degrees), where hail and snow made our decision to only put on summery cycling clothes questionable. If we would have done a survey on that top, asking the riders how much they disliked us, I believe we would have reached an identity crisis at daphni. However, the answers might have been even worse on the way down. The cold got us, and when you have lost the feeling in your body, you can barely brake. The lucky (and prepared) ones in the front, managed to ride down without fog, but the last ones couldn’t even see beyond one meter. The funny thing is that the worst memory of the challenge, became one of the best ones. We pushed our limits very far, and can proudly say that we successfully managed to get through the first day without any injuries and with an outstanding positivity (some with the help of a van or an electric bicycle– but shhh, what happened in Mollo stays in Mollo).
After a hot shower at the hotel, all these difficulties were already good memories, and the last (and the most resilient) riders were welcomed with the standing ovation they deserved! If we were just a bunch of people working in tech in the morning, we were definitely a team when we shared dinner!
As compared with any other late event, we reached an incredible “smile” level that evening, a mix of pride to have surpassed our own limits and happiness to have shared a great experience all together! After such a day, the only challenge remaining was to have our stuff completely dry for the next morning. 😉
Waking up the second day wasn’t an easy task. But sunny weather just came back, cycling stuff were almost dry for everybody, but just standing up was a huge challenge. We dragged our swollen butts to the hotel balconies, and met with the most beautiful view of the village of Mollo. We started hearing some riders waking up (some realizing that they had forgotten their shoes at the last hotel..) and you can feel the energy. Our fantastic group of riders was wearing its largest smile, ready to start a new day going to the village of Vic, with the help of the competent, friendly, careful and organized Cycle Friendly team!
Already being in Spain, we discovered its hidden mountain treasuries, bumped into smelling cows and rode through a number of cute (but surprisingly quiet) cities. The sun made us more excited to get back on the road, but the climb was even worse than the last day (go to Vic they said, it will be fun they said). With the rain pouring down on the poor, climbing riders, we finally hit our destination — a peaceful monastery with an outstanding lake view. A wonderful dinner altogether before a comfortable sleep, but for a short night as we had to wake up earlier than expected for the third day to meet anticipated schedule. Everybody up 6.30am :-).
And you know what, so many people were awaken earlier and in pretty good shape to launch our last day. With numbed butts, little sleep and a grey sky, we couldn’t be more motivated to ride another 120km. When I think about this day, a specific memory hits my mind. Jacobo, one of the most impressive examples of resilience I met, was injured and unable to cycle properly. The only logical solution was to finish the ride in a van but we saw at his face that it was not something he could even think about. While he was struggling at the end of the group, we saw a group of solid riders coming close to him and literally pushing him for 50km during more than 2 hours allowing him to finish the ride on his bike… For me this is the best example of what happened during these 3 days. We all had a challenging time and we developed a very high level of respect and solidarity with the other riders.
Of course, once hitting the coast and the beautiful sun started warming us, we rode to Barcelona with grace. The feeling when reaching our goal at the Barceloneta is difficult to explain, but let me tell you something — I will never forget it.
To summarize Techbikers, I would say that it is an extraordinary adventure, building long-lasting connections by bringing people from whole of Europe (London, Berlin, Roma, Madrid, Paris, Bruxelles…) to overcome a major challenge together. And doing so for a good cause, makes the ride even more emotional and memorable.
And there is only one way for us to express how this trip has been — by sharing some messages and testimonials we have received. Read them carefully, and we can ensure you that you will sign up for one of the upcoming rides. Or perhaps, organize one yourself.
Such an amazing achievement everybody. I will not lie, I was worried when I learnt of many people’s inexperience, but have never been so happy to be proved wrong and so proud of you all. Amazing teamwork and determination from everyone. So lovely to meet you all, I hope the achievement and memories last a lifetime and the stories get told many times. #Champions Max Darkins from the organizer Cycle Friendly
You were all amazing. So glad you had such a great time and tested your limits. So many of you went from beginners to accomplished riders in just three days, you should be very proud of yourselves. Keep riding!! Toby Powell from the organizer Cycle Friendly
Thank you so much guys for this amazing road trip ! Seeing you keeping smiling and laughing all along the way despite the huge difficulty and the weather made me very, very happy to have join you on board – and this is why we love cycling !! For those staying in Paris please reach me out for an easy ride on « Vallée de Chevreuse » and let’s have some beer right there. Have a good rest and looking forward to see u all soon ! Massimo
Thank you guys for this amazing experience ! I haven’t expected half of the happiness I got with you during those three days. Our train is 2h delayed but it’s ok because we are full of beautiful memories. See you soon I hope, and i’m always up for cycling adventures 😉 Alysee
Sitting in my garden in London telling my wife about my extraordinary 3 days with the Tech Bikers. Thank you all but especially all those who planned, packed, discussed, drove, cooked or paid for the cooks. You are all special. Amazing time and long lasting good memories. Let’s keep in touch.Victor
Well done everybody for beating the Pyrenees! Thank you all very much for such an enjoyable weekend. Please come say hello when next in London. Henry
A memorable 3 days with you all chaps. Special thanks to Saimapata, Daphni, Techbikers and Cycle Friendly. Alexandre
Dear everyone. I wanted to thank you for what has been an unbelievable journey. We’ve all pushed our bodies to limits we might not realize could be crossed, and we’ve all done it with great positive energy. Thanks to Daphni and Samaipata for having everything perfectly organized and for reacting amazingly quickly when there were issues. Thanks to Cycle Friendly and Techbikers because they made sure we were safe the whole journey. And special thanks to the many people that helped me go through the last 50 km with the same bike I started the trip, getting over the pain in my right knee. As Artur mentioned, your help was the perfect example of team work. I hope we all meet again in Tech Bikers 2020. Good luck with the rest of the week! Jacobo
Many thanks to the amazing organizers! Great to have met such a cool group of people! Please say hi when you are in Paris! Elina
Thx guys for everything! These 3 days were just amazing! Arnaud
Thank you everyone for this amazing and memorable weekend! I’m so happy I didn’t know how difficult this would be beforehand! I will never forget your look Toby when I said that I had never been on a professional bicycle before. So cool to meet you all and hear literally no complaints even though some people looked like white walkers after the first day! Really, where else can you find that positive team spirit and energy even though the rain didn’t give up and the batteries of the e-bikes ran out? a big thanks to Stanislas Lot, Aurelie van Peteghem and Sebastien Fernandez for organising this fabulous event (and for telling Cycle Friendly that we were all “experienced riders”) AND, Cycle Friendly — you guys absolutely rock, thanks for saving us with candy and golden blankets — it was an absolute pleasure being saved in that van! Thank you for staying so encouraging the whole time and for doing an amazing job organising the route in such beautiful landscapes! Cheers to ugly tans and weeks of avoiding sitting down! Hope to see you all soon again! Cecilia