In spring 2022, we launched a very special global initiative at Stuart: We challenged our people based in the UK, France, and Spain to get involved in a relay bike ride that started in London and ended in Madrid. Between 29 March and 7 April, 50 Stuwies took part in the challenge, passing the baton from one group to another. After 10 days and a 2,054-km journey through three countries and 34 cities, our relay baton reached its final destination. We pedalled, ate a whole lot of vegan cereal bars, and struggled through the Pyrenees. But above all, we strengthened the Stuwie bond and promoted the use of sustainable transportation.
Check out some of our stories, fun anecdotes, and takeaways.
Children’s dreams & adults’ challenges
→ Henni: When I was a kid, I loved to watch the Tour de France with my dad. Ever since I've wanted to own a racing bike and go on a tour with likeminded people. And the people I cycled with were pretty professional! Being part of that group, cycling wheel to wheel through the mountains of Catalonia, just amazing.
→ Bart: I’m a die-hard fan of cycling! I used to go biking in the Alps with my family during the summertime so my brothers and I could climb the mountain passes we saw on TV during Le Tour. I had always dreamed of climbing in the Pyrenees too but I never had the chance. So when the opportunity presented itself, I didn’t hesitate a second to enlist in the Relay.
→ Agustin: I have been a big fan of cycling since I was a child and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to mix that passion with my job.
Our Stuwies love a challenge
→ Olaia: This journey was designed to be about the people who participated on each leg, to be really committed to the relay, and to be improving and surpassing the limits within a safe environment. I am very grateful that on the first day I managed to do 160km with +2000m elevation and on the second day 183km/+1500m elevation so on both days I beat the longest distance I've ever cycled on a bike.
→ Diego: The physical challenge - I've been getting more and more involved in endurance sports over the last few years and felt that cycling from London to Barcelona would be a great test of my physical and mental abilities.
Memorable moments despite the difficulties
→ Henni: The downhill parts! We were going sooo fast, like I’ve never experienced it before in my life. Pure concentration, focus, adrenaline. The air being so cold that it almost freezes your hands and feet but at this moment, it doesn’t matter. What counts is the speed and the excitement!
→ Simon: What was memorable about this initiative was also the amount of energy coming from all the participants, especially Chris in the support van, but also Dave and Diego, who are tremendous riders, always smiling and vibing. Truly, this is [the] atmosphere that kept us all motivated when we had to ride through the snow, the rain and the most disgusting weather you could think of! I remember when it started snowing. Even though you might think that it would be the worst moment (i.e. riding a bike under the snow), I was actually smiling because I knew that we would get through it and that eventually, I would laugh at this moment. And today, I still laugh at it and I’m sure I’ll never forget this incredible moment!
→ Chris: Scrambling for newspaper and aluminium foil to stop frostbite before the next checkpoint was a big win and helped save some toes!
A rewarding experience
→ Agustin: The energy, commitment and good vibes from all people involved definitely overcame my expectations and made the experience great. Great anecdote that shows Chris’ amazing energy: We were fixing a puncture at the side of the road and suddenly Chris appeared from nowhere with water and energetic bars for everyone with a smile on his face. Great support!
→ Chris: Off-road gravel and field rallying in a van, trying to beat the clock on check-ins to the hotel, meeting new late night arrivals in the next city whilst trying to ensure food would be found that night was super challenging but ultimately rewarding when by 22h30, we are tucking into . . . tapas and staying in an old Spanish ambassador to South America's cultural home. Battling through the snow in the Pyrenees to be rewarded with epic views at 1800m will be cherished for life.
Strengthening the Stuwie bond
Building stronger connections
→ Diego: I really enjoyed the camaraderie, laughs, and unrelenting support we all gave each other. We had cyclists of all levels, which meant the route could be easy for some but also the biggest physical challenge of their lives for others. We always stayed together, pushed each other past the next kilometre, and definitely appreciated reaching our destination at the end of the day. I particularly remember a day of the trip where me and Dave had been cycling most of the day on our own through very cold weather, rain and hail, and were joined by Marcos and Damian for the final leg of the day. Even though we had already been powering through unfavorable conditions for most of the day, knowing that we had to get two more colleagues safely to our destination powered us through to a glorious arrival at Limoges! Our feet and hands were basically frozen, so we ran into the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed our very warm showers and mint tea. 😊
→ Olaia: I've enjoyed everything. Specifically, I really enjoyed how I have connected with the people I've shared this experience with. Being able to participate on a couple of days meant spending time together on and off the bike, managing the meals, route preparation, problem-solving on the spot, being hyper-alert during the ride, etc. All this meant we had to get to know each other super fast with little initial introductions. We experienced all highs and lows without smoothing things out. The day we arrived in Madrid we were commenting on the evolution of our relationship, how we developed trust, showed commitment, supported each other, and shared jokes with a really special connection that we developed.
A reflection of Stuart’s values
→ Bart: For me, this activity is linked to two Stuart’s values: “Build by empowerment” and “Share through cooperation”. With this Relay, we were encouraged to set ambitious goals for ourselves and trust ourselves in our ability to overcome a challenge. But at the same time, we knew that we were not alone in our endeavor and that we could count on our teammates to support us throughout the journey. I want to give a huge shoutout to Chris, Dave and Diego who were absolutely fantastic and really pushed me through the climbs and the freezing cold!
→ Martí: What I like about working here is that I’m always challenged. Stuart keeps giving you new problems to overcome, as well as providing you with the tools, the people and all the help needed to do it. In the Relay we were led by Dave, the best biker you can ask for, we had a Stuart van as a bodyguard, and with Chris’ help we were constantly provided with the required nutrients and cheers. This really shows what Stuart is about: overcoming difficult challenges as a team while having a good time, and the bike relay is the way of showing the world how we do it at Stuart.
Connecting in an international company
→ Simon: The idea to link it to a social aspect was also what seduced me to do the initiative. With the lockdown and all, we didn’t really have the opportunity to connect with Stuwies from other countries as much - so this was the perfect time for me to meet other fellow peers.
→ Diego: This event was truly unforgettable. I know people I normally wouldn't have crossed paths with in the business, for the ones that I did communicate with before I now know much more intimately and am able to communicate openly with them. This makes cross department work much easier and more enjoyable. My only wish is that we do this type of event regularly, and that more and more people participate. I know I surely will participate again.
Sustainability and wellbeing at heart
→ Simon: Finally, the environmental aspect of traveling by bike across Europe is something quite exciting and I think we can all agree that we should do more of these. Overall, this was the perfect combination of fun, physical activity with a limited impact on our planet.
→ Diego: Proving that cycling can get you anywhere - I cycle to work, often cycle to go out, and am a true believer that cycling is one of the best, most enjoyable, and sustainable types of transport out there (for me and the environment!). If I can cycle 1500km, you can cycle from your flat to the office. 😊 It's the cheaper and healthier alternative!
→ Agustin: It fosters team engagement in the way that we got to know people from other teams/countries and spend some time with each other outside from work. Also it is highly aligned with sustainability either regarding ecological impact, supporting cycling as a transport medium; and regarding personal wellbeing, encouraging us to train and practice cycling as a sport and a way of improving our mental health.