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Wheel difference for software team

by Charlie Mitchell, published in The Press in Christchurch, New Zealand

The car park at Jade Software is usually overflowing with cars, as is the case at many mid-sized, office-based companies.

But this week is different. The entranceway is littered with bicycles. They cover the footpath and spill onto the lawn.

Wednesday was New Zealand's annual "Go by Bike Day", and the business consulting company turned it into a week-long event, holding challenges and events to promote cycling in the city and encouraging its workers to ditch their cars.

This year, more than half the workforce signed up for an intra-company challenge: could each employee leave their car at home and cycle 100 kilometres over the week?

If some of the team were suffering the mid-week blues, they were helped by a pep talk from extreme fitness icon Steve Gurney.

The Cantabrian has won the brutal Coast to Coast contest nine times. He famously crossed the Sahara desert on a kite buggy, and battled through Cook Strait on a kayak.

He brought tales from his inspirational life to Jade Software, reminding them of the importance of keeping moving.

"It's about getting people out there on their bike to make a difference to the fitness of the nation," he says.

"It's very easy in this technological age to just jump in your car and drive around places, but this machine is not built for driving a desk and a driving a car. It's built for exercise."

He brought with him his newest bike - with wheels as wide as his head, it was a perfect match for the endurance athlete.

He suggested a good way for people to get into cycling was to splurge on a decent bike, and guilt themselves into using it.

"It's the same as buying a car. You want to buy a bike you feel nice driving, go the step further and buy a bike you shouldn't really afford buy you're going to because it's such a nice bike."

Even though Gurney has retired, he's still taking on challenges, such as recreating the adventures of famous explorers.

"Cycling is just an awesome way to commute. You don't need to take a car most of the time - just put on a backpack and ride into town."

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