I hate playing golf. For a few years in my late 20s I tried to get into it. I bought some clubs and spent Sunday mornings bad-temperedly hitting balls into streams, dense undergrowth and generally spoiling many a good walk.
I started playing because my friends played – they were all far, far better than me – and from what they told me it was a great way to ‘network’. Yeah, well if anyone wanted to ‘network’ with the apoplectic madman routinely breaking his clubs I didn’t meet them. And I guess I wasn’t alone, for the past few years a number of people have been proclaiming that cycling, and road cycling in particular, is the new golf.
The phrase "cycling is the new golf" was coined by a Melbourne investment banker called Craig Bingham who noted that affluent middle-aged men were using cycling in the same way that they’d previously used 18-holes – to have fun, keep fit and make business contacts. It's hard to disagree when press releases like the one we received today pop into the inbox.
"Road cycling is challenging golf as the preferred sport for business networking according to leading wealth manager Rensburg Sheppards who have launched their first Cycle Club in Sheffield." Now, I don't know what a wealth manager is, and I certainly don't need one but according to the release the club has been established by Rensburg Sheppards' director James Lanchbery, a keen cyclist himself, who recognised the demand in Sheffield for a networking club dedicated to professional people who want to get fit and healthy - whilst doing business at the same time - and who don’t want to venture out on the golf course.
“You can chat really easily on the bike," explains James, "And there is no doubt that cycling is growing in popularity amongst professionals all over the world who are experiencing the benefits of cycling in making business contacts." James could certainly have a point – just last month I blogged about Paul Molyneux, the bike-mad UK MD of electronic giant Sharp and his plans to take on the Race Across America. Phil Jones, UK sales and marketing director of another electronic giant Brother, tweets and blogs about his love of cycling. And of course there's the business daddy of them all – Sir Alan Sugar who has a collection of Pinarellos.
I've yet to strike a big deal while out on the road but if I did discuss business I know where I'd rather do it. Oh – and bad puncture related joke alert – I'm far more likely to get a hole in one while out on my bike...
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