HR & Management

Olympic medal winner Bryan Steel starts business network with a twist – you need a bike

4 min read

14 April 2015

Alongside insurance broker Paul Hopewell, silver medalist Bryan Steel has set up a business network group with a difference: everyone that wants to join has to bring their own bike.

The old adage, “every cloud has a silver lining” could have been written for Bryan Steel. As one of Britain’s best track cyclists, he garnered nine silver medals in a career that spanned numerous Olympic Games and 14 World Championships.

But now that he’s retired, Steel suggested that there’s a gap that needs filling. 

“With the success of the GB Cycling Team and Sky, along with other riders all producing results that in my days of racing I used to lie in bed dreaming about, I have to say there is something of a gap between grassroots of the sport and getting onto the British cycling team,” he said.

“As a coach working with local clubs such as Beeston Road Club and Mansfield Road Club I see some fantastic talent coming through, but I am sorry to say British cycling is missing something. The reason I am so passionate about this is if I was starting out on my cycling career today I wouldn’t have the opportunities I did because I am too short and I was a late developer; but if that had happened British cycling would have missed two Olympic medals.”

This was his reasoning for starting the Bryan Steel Cycling Academy this year. In order to raise finance, however, Steel is also starting the Bryan Steel Riding Group, where business people can meet up and go for a ride “in a relaxed controlled way so you can socialise and maybe develop new contacts or friendships”. Of course, they will be paying weekly or membership fees.

The group encourages entrepreneurs to get in the saddle and start cycling, to socialise and network on a weekly ride over 50-100km, which “takes in historic market towns and the stunning English countryside”.

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It’s suiting that he chose to start a networking business given that his speciality was the team pursuit.

“I’m a better team than individual player; there’s that challenge of getting four people all on form on the same day – it’s such a buzz when it comes together,” he once said. “Then there’s the camaraderie of being part of a squad, spreading the pressure.”

The group meets every Sunday morning at Mansfield restaurant Il Rosso and is open to cyclists of all abilities. It has already attracted 20 local business people, while other cycling groups have expressed an interest in expanding the network.

On the initiative, Hopewell said: “Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a seasoned small business owner, networking is an important aspect of business. There are numerous events and communities out there for making connections but we felt the whole ‘business on bikes’ group was a great way of getting people involved. We set out on a different route every week and it’s fun, healthy and perfect for making new contacts among enthusiasts that also happen to do business”.

According to Steel, members have heralded “business on bikes” as a breath of fresh air that are less intimidating than traditional networking events. 

“It’s been great for everyone’s fitness and some have already made connections with owners and directors of large multinational companies,” Steel said.