There’s one week left in the 2017 Love to Ride Aotearoa Bike Challenge, and Team Xero’s Auckland office has just taken the lead in their workplace size category on the Auckland leaderboard. Xero’s bike-boosting cheerleader and all-round excellent person Genny gives us the scoop:

The Bike Challenge is like my own personal Tour de France that I’ve been training for all year. Encouraging people to bike is a full time obsession of mine, and I’m proud to say I’ve had a few successes over the years. I’m pretty stoked when I get a message from someone saying ‘I bought a bike – inspired by you!’

The Love to Ride challenge gives my evangelical zeal a workplace legitimacy that I exploit to the fullest.

Last year, I successfully encouraged my workmate Levi to try biking to work from Mt Albert during the challenge. He initially had a lot of reasons why he couldn’t, and I had an answer for all of them. Traffic? Ah, but there’s the off-road NW cycleway. Dropping kids to daycare? Drop them off and then jump on your bike – or buy a kid-trailer for the bike. Time it would take? Probably quicker than any other option.

Once successfully worn down, Levi gave it a try, and hasn’t missed a day since. Like he says, ‘I just don’t give myself the choice. As soon as I start thinking about bring the car, then I’ll fold. It’s a great way to start the morning – it wakes you up, especially in the winter! It integrates fitness into your daily routine, plus you save money on petrol and parking.’

One thing in our favour is our location. Our office is about 2km away from Britomart and it’s a struggle sometimes for our staff to find carparks round the building. Public transport from Xero to Britomart isn’t great – you have to either walk 20 minutes or drive, because buses don’t come close to our location. So once people give cycling a go, they usually find the commute much easier, and discover that it isn’t as difficult as they first thought!

Currently 17% (53 of 303) of the Auckland office have logged a ride, of which 1/3rd (18) are new riders! Simple math indicates there are 35 of us who regularly ride a bike that are competing in the challenge.

A few of this year’s riders talked to me about why they signed up for Love to Ride…

There’s Caroline, who is super fit and very competitive, and who is lured by the chance to win a prize. She told me that having her rides visible to others is a good incentive, because she can’t stand people seeing that she’s been slacking off!  Also, she’s a bit like a Labrador in that she works well on a rewards system – so tell her that she’s in the draw to win a new bike or a trip to Croatia, and she’s keen!

Damen, who also participated last year, got his bike out again in 2017 for the challenge, and uses it as an opportunity to bond with his boy. He says it’s something they can do together – ‘maintaining my bike, teaching him how to look after his as well.’ Now Damen’s son will often say, ‘Dad, should we take out our bikes?’

Then there’s Sarah, the self-labelled geek, who likes the gamification of riding a bike that Love to Ride presents (‘even though I’d ride anyway, I get tempted to do a bit extra because I can get points and achievements!’) and Chris, who finds the event a good way to connect with other workmates who ride bikes.

There are some days when I wonder why I’m so obsessed by cycling, and I question why it’s so important to me to encourage everyone to ride a bike. Why should I risk being known as the crazy bike lady?

Then I remember the benefits of riding a bike: it makes you happy, changes your physical and mental well-being, and saves you money getting to and from work. And I happen to really like the people I work with, and I want them to have all of those awesome things in their life, as well as the added extra enjoyment they’re experiencing with their kids or as a personal challenge!

I’m happy to be the crazy bike lady for those things to happen.

–Genny Stevens

Team Xero (photo: Alicja Grosz, for Auckland Transport's Love My Ride campaign).
A glimpse of Team Xero, featuring Megan Firkin, Sarah Webb, Genny Stevens, Caroline Leach, and Monique Smith (photo: Alicja Grosz, for AT’s Love My Ride campaign).
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