Tell us a bit about who you are, where you work and what you do there
Anna Coverdale (AC): I am a Founder Director of Coverdale Barclay, a communications agency offering transformative brand proposition development, PR, marketing and stakeholder engagement for districts and destinations undergoing change, and for companies that work within this space, to drive perception change. We work on some really interesting destination projects including Wembley Park and London Designer Outlet, Portman Marylebone, Swansea City, Scotch Corner, North Yorkshire and Elektrownia Powisle in Warsaw, plus shopping centre destinations such as Festival Place in Basingstoke and St James’s in Dover that are going through exciting transformations.
Matt Slade (MS): I am Retail Director for Quintain, responsible for the Leasing and Operations of the Retail and Leisure estate at Wembley Park, although I see this role as the Head of Shopping, Eating and Having Fun. It is a fascinating and challenging role to create a new neighbourhood for London, where the innovative use of ground floor spaces has such a fundamental impact on the perception of the place. But the role is especially personal to me as my dad was born and raised in Wembley, less than 1km from my present office, and I feel I am contributing to returning Wembley to being an exciting, vibrant and diverse place to live, work and visit.
Tell us a little bit about your riding on Cycle to MAPIC experiences
AC: I made my debut ride in 2015 and then signed up again for 2016. The cycling was intense but truly formidable and stunning and I made some really good friends, who were so supportive of me. My most memorable moment - other than kissing my medal with relief at the end of the ride - was during a serious sugar craving moment, being passed a banana along about 20 riders from the back to the middle of the peloton and being pushed up the climb by Craig White (then at King’s Cross), enabling me to eat and ride at the same time. My other rewarding moment for both years was achieving pole position for fundraising for such a great cause, so now the pressure is on. This year I come back to the ride after a two year break following various injuries and operations. I am greatly looking forward to it, although with a fair bit of trepidation thrown in, as the route is quite challenging.
MS: 2019 will be the fifth year I have ‘ridden to MAPIC’. It has become an established part of my cycling year and I very much look forward to catching up with old faces and meeting new. Riding for four days with a large group is such a rewarding way of meeting people in the retail property industry, as well as raising valuable monies for a very worthy charitable cause. Club Peloton’s organisation and planning gives you a short escape from the pressure and stress of our daily work environments to experience what the life of a professional world tour cyclist might be like, where all you have to think about is riding from point A to point B, then eat, sleep and repeat!
How did you meet?
Both: We met as newbies in Barcelona on the first ride we did together in 2015. It was the night of the Paris attacks. We were chatting with Helen Barnish, formerly of Hamleys. We were nervous on both fronts; terrorism and the cycling challenge ahead. We were wondering how we would cycle across the French border from Spain, as all the French borders had been shut. Luckily we pedalled through.
How did riding together on Cycle to MAPIC facilitate your working relationship?
Both: Quality time on a bike with no distractions is where you develop a chemistry between the personal and the professional. The common interest in cycling leads to making it easier to do business together. Meeting each other still leads to a competitive tender, but at the end of the day you take time to understand each other’s business better.
For anyone new who is thinking about doing Cycle to MAPIC, what are the biggest benefits?
Both: The biggest benefits are building a network, quality time, shared experiences and the bond that is created from the intense challenge. When you’ve seen someone in Lycra at the end of 200kms, it breaks down any barrier! Blending new business objectives and sporting pursuits is so good for business development.
How much do you keep in touch with the Cycle to MAPIC community outside of the event itself ?
AC: I have done a fair few training rides with colleagues and of course this year Quintain is sponsoring the ride so we have also helped on pulling the various pre-Cycle to MAPIC events together for this. I would like to do more. There are a few riders who also belong to my local indoor cycling studio, so we continue our competitive streak in these classes too.
MS: Lots of events at Wembley have a strong Cycle to MAPIC theme, so keeping up with colleagues I’ve met on the ride is really helpful. The strong relationships we have built on the annual rides have meant many of our business relationships involve people I originally met in Lycra. From the ride in 2018, we met Ceri who now has a new cycle shop at Wembley Park, Twenty3c, and is now part of the new community being built in Wembley.
It’s obviously not all about business… how does the charity element of the ride keep you motivated?
AC: The charity element is the biggest pull. When I grind away at those climbs and say to myself, “WHY?”, I think, “There are seriously vulnerable children out there who have it a lot harder, they need a lot more help than I do,” so I just go for it.
MS: It’s very important that Cycle to MAPIC is not just an important industry networking event on two wheels. To have the privilege - and the luxury - of taking time out of a pressured work schedule and busy family life, it has been important to know that we are making a difference to people who have much fewer opportunities than I do.