We miss you! The lockdown has put plans for the Tour de Tech on hold so far this year, but with the government encouraging us all to get on our bikes, we hope that you have been leading the way and inspiring others to take to the quiet roads and enjoy some fresh air. Like the Tour de France and the Giro, we are hoping for some late season fun. Especially if the pubs open!
• Distance: 40.1km
• Time: 1hr 45m
• Elevation: 435m
• Calories burned: 920
• Average speed: 22.8KM/h
A motley crew of 13 riders gathered at the Duke of Marlborough near Blenheim Palace for the final “regular” ride of the season. This route was one for the "Chipping Norton set" as we whizzed through Dean the home of David Cameron and glided past the glamorous Soho Farmhouse, where David Beckham has a new home. There were a few punchy climbs as we tracked the edge of the Cotswolds and skimmed through delightful and quintessentially English villages. This was home turf for quite a few of the riders including Rob McCrigor who used his canny local knowledge to take a more abbreviated route on occasion! Our speeding peloton rushed to beat the maturing sun as summer slipped to autumn and the evening gloom started to descend. A steep climb out of Wootton and then we were back into the welcoming arms of the Duke of Marlborough where the chat continued about tech, business and new opportunities after the long summer break. Another successful outing for Tour de Tech!
With the Tour De France over for another year, the Tour De Tech rolled on and the riders were suitably ‘G’d up for another evening of cycling and networking.
14 riders joined the stage starting at the Seven Stars in Marsh Baldon, with a mixture of regular Tour De Tech attendees and some joining for the first time.
The peleton, after a nice flat roll out through Toot Baldon took on the Col de Garsington avoiding the sink hole but not the gradients of over 7%.
The borrowers in the economy will be pleased that this percentage far exceeded the rate set today by the Monetary Policy Committee although at 0.75% this represents the highest Base Rate for nearly a decade.
The route then looped through Cuddesdon, Little Milton and Chalgrove before returning through Stadhampton and back to the pub for suitable refreshments, minus the Morris Dancers this year!
There was the usual balance of relaxed riding and Strava injected segment pace and a few riders even decided to do a few extra KM’s, taking advantage of the continuation of hot dry weather !
Two more 2018 TdT legs to go so keep your bike well oiled and sign up for the remaining events.
Chapeau to all those who attended.
Allez Tour de Tech !
Director, Corporate & Commercial Banking NatWest
• Distance: 41.5km
• Time: 1h44m
• Elevation: 445m
• Calories burned: 898
• Average speed: 24.1km/h
The third leg of the TdT set off in glorious sunshine overlooking the idyllic cricket pitch at West Ilsley.
The rolling route had the group heading south over the downs, along deserted country roads.
The halfway point was the peaceful hamlet of Bagnor, near to Newbury, with its pub garden overlooking a crystal clear trout stream.
The group was admirably restrained with a democratic majority voting not to stop for a half-time beer in the sunshine.
We put in some rotating stints on the front to power us along the course of the River Lambourn, before heading north again at Boxford.
The toil into the headwind was rewarded with beautiful views of open fields and wild flowers as we headed back towards Brightwalton. A high speed descent along the hidden valley took us to the climb past the tiny church at Catmore.
The home stretch was an inspiring spin along the ridgeline with panoramic views over the downs (see photo), before an alfresco dinner overlooking the end of the cricket match.
• Distance: 37.1km
• Time: 1h30m
• Elevation: 344m
• Calories burned: 1200
• Average speed: 24.7km/h
Day two of the Tour saw fourteen riders take on the ‘mountain’ stage.
Riders assembled at The Star in Stanton St John (with a shout out to the extremely friendly staff there, who seemed genuinely pleased to see us return to their hostelry).
We set off a little late after one bike suffered a dramatic blowout (whilst stationary during the pre-ride briefing). But, with puncture swiftly repaired, the peleton set off on the gentle climb out of Stanton St John before picking up decent speed on the winding drop into the Long Mile. Then, a short sharp climb out of Horton-cum-Studley – the appetiser perhaps before a main course of Brill – the long climb up to the windmill (hors categorie, sans aucun doute).
With all riders meeting up at the windmill atop Brill, a swift photo graciously taken by a bemused mountain biker, no time for a pint in the Pheasant, and we were off again on the long descent (“4km for free!”).
At the 25km mark, we were greeted by the welcome sight of the Mott family handing around a fruitbowl full of jelly babies. Then finally, one last climb back into Stanton St John (and a myriad potholes) stood between the peleton and supper – each swiftly despatched.
A great ride with much conversation (and just a modicum of downhill competion) – without a doubt, the next tech unicorn will have found its roots in a chance meeting and a deal struck on the Tour de Tech.
• Distance: 36.7km
• Time: 1h22m
• Elevation: 184m
• Calories burned: 691
• Average speed: 26.7km/h
We got the band back together! First (of 8) ride of the Tour. Fine weather and a flat course were ideal for those of us who had not been on the turbo trainer all winter and offered a the perfect opportunity to catch up. Lots of updates to share since the last ride back in September. New deals, funds raised from angels and VCs, new hires, growing sales, GDPR bonanza... So much to talk about!
Post ride, over a well-earned burger or fishcakes back at the Bear & Ragged Staff (under new ownership and great food), we debated the blockchain and the rollercoaster ride of Bitcoin which, since our last gathering had had its 15 minutes of fame, peaking at $19k before sliding back to $7k. Some had profited along the way - a dev colleague of one of the riders had cashed in and made enough money to put down a deposit on a house (some feat in the Oxford housing market)! Beyond the hype, some serious applications have evolved such as the way De Beers are using the blockchain to ensure blood diamonds don’t enter the supply chain. We moved on to mining for Bitcoins and how in the early days this was even done in a back room down Oxford’s Cowley Road. But now, mining is the preserve of giants with vast computing power, access to cooling and cheat electricity. Where could this lead to? Well, Professor Ludovic Phalippou of Said Business School shared this cheery thought on LinkedIn:
COULD BITCOIN (LITERALLY) DESTROY US ALL ???! Imagine people pushing the price up (probably simply because it has gone up a lot in the past, they missed out, ..., the usual story). What is special about bitcoin is that anyone can manufacture a coin. As the price goes up, more people want to manufacture coins. Manufacturing a coin uses a shocking amount of electricity. This means that we can end up in a situation where electricity prices increase sharply, most of the electricity production goes to manufacture a virtual coin (for speculative reasons). Consequence: more nuclear waste, more people unable to heat up their house, more poverty. Nothing to stop this spiral. This will be the most damaging of all bubbles ever because it can lead to mass poverty and environmental damage.
Armageddon is nigh! In the meantime, we’ll keep cycling. Hope you can join us in two weeks!
Our final leg was the ‘endurance ride’ and with the evenings starting to close in we set off at a slightly earlier time at 5.30. Another huge turn out of Tour de Tech riders turned up for the final salute to a summer of rides. Our meeting point was the White Hart in Fyfield, home to some of the finest pub food (try the pork belly) in Oxfordshire and we set off South on a mission towards the Ridgeway to see the ancient White Horse. We had to get out and back before dark. It would be our longest ride. After a summer of riding, our group formed a tight peloton and this helped our average speed to creep up to the highest of the 2017 tour – a mighty 25.4km/h!
As ever, conversations between the entrepreneurs, VCs and professionals flowed around tech, business, intellectual property, hiring tips, IPOs and more. But this was regularly interspersed with chat about how we could bike to see the entrepreneurs in Cambridge, perhaps an overseas ride like the guys in the property sector, or the benefits of Shimano over SRAM components. Lots of the riders had tales to share of biking overseas during their summer breaks. As the Summer season begins to change there was also chat about preparing for winter training in doors and all the new cool tech and apps that can make it just about tolerable!
Having had an entire series of uneventful rides (we don’t mention the brief leap into a ditch that one of our riders experienced), we had our first mechanical – a double whammy of broken chain and flat tyre. After lots of sympathy and support, we ditched him and continued (though Peter did go to the rescue later on). We finally rolled in back at the pub just as it was getting dark. We had earned our dinner. The beer slipped down a treat, the hearty food filled a gap, but left us just wanting enough to order sticky toffee pudding!
A huge thank you to all the riders who have taken part in the rides since May. With over 150 riders signed up, lots of hits on the website and lots of you joining the Strava group, we are thrilled with the enthusiasm and support you have shown. The Tour de Tech has been all about encouraging new connections in our community. As well as making new friends, we have discovered new routes and enjoyed some fine fayre. We’ll be back next May so do encourage others to sign up for the 2018 season.
Apparently there is another Tour (Tour de Britain) that came by two days later and included Brill Hill in their route. Well, we’d already been there and done that!
Happy winter training and see you in 2018!
Calories burned: 841
Average speed: 24.6km/h
An impressive turn out of 20 riders gathered at the Red Lion in Yarnton. James Dipple of MEPC and Dave Thornhill of Ampersan Design explained the route and shared a safety briefing while we were all basking in the sun. Following brief introductions, we set off for a loop north west of Oxford towards Charlbury. This is the gateway to the Cotswolds and as we wound our way through the country lanes we took in the magnificent scenery. Our peloton of 20 riders was one of the largest to date and quickly stretched out as the conversations flowed between riders. But at each junction, we regrouped and it was a chance to set off again and to talk another rider. There was a great balance of entrepreneurs, investors and professionals from across the tech sector.
Prior to the ride, I had glanced at my iPhone to check the weather. 40% chance of rain over Oxford at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm. The sun was shining and I ignored the warning. But by 7pm, the reality had set in – there was a 40% chance of rain. Having circled the dark grey patch above us, our route took us right into it – 100% chance! And it poured… Some well-prepared riders reached into their pockets to slip on some high tech rain gear, while the less prepared (myself included) fumbled around looking for somewhere to keep their phones dry.
But the weather did little to dampen spirits and with the true grit and determination that all entrepreneurs have in abundance, we smiled and pressed on to complete the 40km route. Back at the Red Lion, we tucked into some hearty burgers, curry or lasagne washed down with the celebrated Cornish Doom Bar ale. Our shared experience of pedalling through the rain strengthened the bonds between us. For many of us fair weather cyclists, it was a new experience!
Our next ride on 7th September will be the last for this season. We hope to see as many of you there as possible!
Who better to answer this question than Richard Branson? Check out his article here.