Riding high - GoCardless’ London to Paris cycle
As if building the first global network for bank to bank payments doesn’t keep us busy enough, some of the GoCardless team decided to challenge themselves earlier this month by cycling from our HQ in London to our new office in Paris and raise money for Mind charity.
On 1 September, 14 riders set off with Paris in their sights.
Now back and rested, we sat down with two of the team, Merve and Anca, to find out how they got on.
Back in February, GoCardless opened its first international office, and our French team settled into their new Paris home. To celebrate our new permanent base in France, Pre-sales Manager, and ride organiser, Merve, began to organise the trip.
“I wanted to visit our colleagues out there but thought there must be a more interesting way than hopping on the Eurostar”, she explains.
“We have some really keen cyclists here at GoCardless, and I have done similar trips before so it seemed like a great opportunity to challenge ourselves and get together with the team in France.”
Mindfulness and wellbeing are important to us here at GoCardless – The cycle team saw the trip as the chance to raise money and awareness for a related good cause.
GC rider, Anca, explains:
“I think we’ve all dealt with mental health issues at some point in our lives, whether directly or through someone we know. Despite this, it is still a taboo subject and that needs to change. Mind do brilliant work getting the conversations started and helping those in need of support.”
Preparing for the trip
With the idea in motion, it soon became clear just how much there was to organise, from the route, to logistics, to training and safety.
“I thought of the idea, but hadn’t really had any experience of organising events like this”, says Merve. “Luckily, when I asked for volunteers there were so many people willing to give up their time to help make it happen.”
Anca had to get up to speed on all things long distance cycling, after signing up for the trip and buying a bike with just 8 weeks to train!
“For me it was the training.” says Anca. “ I had no idea what bike or equipment to get and I hadn’t given myself a lot of time. I learned so much in the run up to the event, watched a lot of YouTube videos and trained hard.”
From tackling steep hills between London and Brighton, to braving the rush hour traffic in Paris, the trip wasn’t without its challenges.
For Anca, the Ditchling Beacon has become her nemesis: “London to Brighton was the toughest part because of the rough terrain, especially the Ditchling Beacon. My lower back did not enjoy this part! I was a bit disappointed I only managed half of it but it’s made me determined go back and conquer it one day!”
Once the team arrived in Paris, the route took them through busy roads and tourist hotspots in prime rush hour.
“It was a real challenge. We were riding as a peloton as much as we could, surrounded by a lot of vehicles who were constantly doing the unexpected”, says Merve.
Crossing the finish line
Though it was tough at times, the team supported each other through and all reached our Paris office together.
“I’m so proud that we finished as team”, says Merve. “There was a huge sense of achievement when we reached the Arc de Triomphe, I think that was the high point for all of us, we knew we were going to make it.”
“It was tough and I discovered muscles that I didn’t even know I had but I am so happy I took part”, adds Anca. “It was great to see the office in France and the team gave us a great welcome.”
This event was the first of its kind at GoCardless. While cycling to Australia might be a stretch, it’s clear that challenges like this are a great way to connect the different teams, which will be increasingly important as we open more offices outside of the UK.
“I’m already looking forward to the next event, whatever that may be!” says Anca. “It’s such a good way to bond with the team outside of work, challenge ourselves and have fun doing it.”
“When you experience something like this with your colleagues, and support each other through it - you build a different kind of team spirit”, explains Merve. “When you're helping each other navigate, sharing food and water, and encouraging each other through the tough parts, it definitely brings you closer together – and this will all have a positive impact on the way we work."
It’s not too late to donate - click here to visit the team Just Giving page.