A virtual RAB

Whilst I am cycling my way across the country, over the next 9 days,  through the modern wonders of crowdsourcing and social media then my ride will be virtually followed and my fund raising for the Princes Trust will also benefit. 

Here is how it will work. A business called Limitless is offering an incentive to it’s  staff. They provide customer service support and what makes them different is that all their workforce is virtual -they are crowdsourced. Each team member uses an app to receive and complete work,  and for every task they earn points. At the end of each day the total points earned across the crowd are converted to virtual miles. And the competition is to see if their virtual ride is as long as my actual ride?

And the good news is that each virtual mile completed also translates into a donation from the company to the charity – result! 

There are other ways that you can follow my progress over the coming days.  There is a live event page on the RAB website that will have daily updates. And the twitter hashtag is  #DeloitteRAB2017. And for those that are connected to me on facebook then there will be an automatic feed of photos as the event progresses through the iconic landmarks.

All that is left now is to actually ‘do the do’ and ride the event.  Or if you are part of the Limitless team then I will feel your positive vibes as the 9 days progresses.  Come wind,  rain or shine. 

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. It makes interesting reading about the reach of social media blogging….

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people. And the international context is relevant, as the site visitors came from 38 countries in total.

Throughout the year I made 26 new posts, not bad for my first year of blogging! In total there were 91 pictures uploaded – so a true multi-media experience to enjoy.

The busiest day of the year was February 5th with 32 views.  The most popular posts were:

1 Surrey Hills – Cycle Slam Training March 2012

2 Challenge Henley – Ironman Relay September 2012

3 The 3 Hs Sportive – Hills, Holes and Hail April 2012

4 Preparations are now complete – let the challenge begin May 2012

5 The Longest Day June 2012

Great memories to share!

Day 4 – the road to Olympic glory

The final day of Stage 5 of the Cycle Slam was a 60 mile ride from Ashford to London, finishing next to the Olympic Park in Stratford. A day to truly appreciate the efforts of all those involved in raising a staggering £1.8M for the excellent charitable causes.

The day started with the all too familiar 5.30am alarm call, but everyone was feeling remarkably fresh, in anticipation of the day ahead. Our rider numbers had doubled, as many stage riders were returning for the final day, but our group stuck together (no surprises there then!) We did have a VIP guest though – Chris Hyman who is the Chief Exec of Serco who were one of the major sponsors. And as I have done some call centre business with Serco, it was actually quite a good networking opportunity!

The morning ride took us through the Kentish North Downs and actually included the toughest hill climb of the entire stage with a 1 in 6 ascent of Vigo Hill. Now that got the lungs bursting, but I made it to the top okay. By mid morning we had reached the pit stop in Dartford, where the mood was relaxed and positive, everyone looking forward to not only the finish but equally realising the rising sense of achievement of a challenge conquered.

The next part of the ride took us into south London where the traffic volumes made it difficult to ride together. So we were pleased to make it to the Woolwich Ferry car park where everyone was assembling for a final convoy ride to the finish. Text and phone messages to my wife Louise to let her know that she still had time for lunch, as we would be another hour before arriving.

 

Soon though we were crossing the river, and with the tour cars at the front of the pack, we made our way steadily as one long snaking peloton through Docklands and onto our final destination Stratford.

The core riders peeled off to tell the stage riders approach the finish, where we were efficiently marshalled to form a guard of honour for Lawrence and Freddie to ride across the finish line. Queue flashbulbs, camera crew, lots of hugs and even a glass of champagne that one of my team mates had arranged with his family.

And what about my family? Well, my Dad is in his eighties and now lives in Australia. Well, he had planned his annual trip back to the UK to coincide with the finish of the Slam, so I had my own ‘fan club’ meeting me there – making it a very special day indeed.

And finally, if you have enjoyed reading about the Slam, then it is not too late to make a donation. Go to my Virgin Money Giving page now!

Day 1 – Three seasons in one day

First day of Stage 5 ride completed – 103 miles covered in 7h 23 mins riding time – so a full day at the office. And I needed to use the mechanics in the support crew to fix my bike. At to top it all off, the last two hours of the ride were into a terrible headwind, which picked up in strength with thunderstorms that swept through central France. So quite a baptism to Stage 5 of the Cycle Slam.

The day started early with a 5.30am alarm call (it wasn’t even light) and we assembled outside the hotel and departed in group order. My group of 12 was led by core rider Dave Butler and included Mr and Mrs Flintoff. The first problem struck just an hour into the ride when the bolt connecting the rear brake caliper to the bike became disconnected. Arrangements were made to meet the mechanic support crew at the first scheduled stop – and problem was duly fixed. Thanks guys – and I had only had the bike serviced the week before the event. Morale of the tale should have gone to Halfords!

So far the weather had been dry, but that quickly changed as the rain showers moved in and the temperature dropped. Much more like ‘April showers’ than France in May would normally expect. But there was much worse to come. During the afternoon the weather turned much for the worse – thunderstorms, hail backed up a string northerly wind. And you guessed it, our direction of travelling was north so we were travelling straight into a headwind. The group of riders, all evenly matched and with excellent biking skills, starting riding much more tightly as a group, with different people taking it in turn at the front to shelter those behind. Freddie Flintoff also had the novel idea of giving an interview to the Discovery Channel TV crew who are covering the Slam, whilst cycling along, being sheltered by the van. Smart thinking!

With some relief we pulled into the town square in Chalons – a good day’s riding at a surprsingly good tempo given the conditions.

Note my real need to start stretching as soon as I got off the bike!

Oh and did I mention the rain?

Promoting the Cycle Slam via Social Media

One of the features of promoting the 2012 Cycle Slam has been the use of Social Media. It is an area that I have embraced, as much from a personal learning point of view as from a fund raising perspective.

The centre point of my Social Media strategy has been my blog. This has been a big success from my perspective, from the point of view that I have learnt how to use WordPress (and even better it is free online tool) and also, from the feedback received, how to create stories that engage the reader. The stats are that I have had over 400 views (in just over two months), with the posting and promoting of new content very much the catalyst.

I am fan of multi-media content, and so today’s announcement is that I have created my own promotional video for the Cycle Slam.

In two and half minutes it tells the story of why I am doing the Slam set to a motivational soundtrack – a cover to the Coldplay anthem “Paradise”. Had a few technical production issues over-coming record copyright issues, but I got there courtesy of a free download from David Unger Music. Enjoy!

The best ‘new thing’ I have done in the social media world is to join twitter. You can find me @paulweald. I am even ahead of my teenage kids here, much to my son Harry’s surprise. Over 100 tweets in and I am finding it a useful communication tool to push my messages (go read my blog….) and also to connect with other Cycle Slammers. There is a small community now formed of fellow participants on Stage 5 of the Slam where we keep in touch via twitter. And no surprise that a couple of those have already well ahead of their own £3,000 fund raising targets. Well done Andy and Martin!

The other advantage of twitter is that you can hook into other peoples networks. This worked really well with a work related initiative where a client call centre at London Midland tweeted so effectively that one of their customers sponsored me via my online donations page. Very impressive!

I have a split personality with Facebook and Linked In, as I use one for social connections and the other for business ones. Both tools work on the approach of sending out status updates and then targeting individuals with personal messages. I have learnt that this is more effective than plain old email in getting a response! Promotion of the “welcome home” party on the 26th May will rely heavily on Facebook messaging to different social groups – my Thames Valley Triathletes team mates; as well as my gym buddies. The groups function will also be useful to me here as there is a thriving St Crispins facebook community page, where I do all my keep fit stuff.

And I have embraced the multi-media world by getting myself an iPhone. This allows me to keep in touch with my social media communities whilst at work. Yes it can be a distraction, but to have phone, email and social media all available in real time on a single device is a real bonus over my previous methods of working – which relied heavily on accessing my laptop for anything online. Whilst my ‘two fat thumbs’ are not speedy at texting and tweeting, at least I now have the opportunity!

So whilst I wouldn’t say that Social Media has directly generated funds (as at the end of the day you only sponsor people you know and for a cause or challenge that resonates with you), what Social Media has done is allow me to communicate more widely. It has been time consuming, but hopefully will help me produce the fund raising outcome that I have promised to the event organisers (and also toVirgin Media who sponsored my place on the Slam).