It can be amazing what comes from a pandemic. For the founders of our Telstra Connected Cycling virtual peloton, it was the creation of their Cycling On VIDeo series.
In Australia, we were one of the first companies to send our office-based workforce home as soon as it was clear that the pandemic required a drastic response. For some, it meant bringing a little bit more than their laptops home. After getting their home offices set up, the Telstra Connected Cycling crew also got their indoor virtual cycling ‘paincaves’ set up. As a social group, we’ve been cycling together virtually before – but never like this.
While riding together in the multiplayer training cycling platform Zwift was one way to stay socially connected while physically distancing, our team wanted to take that connection a bit further. Since we were already using Cisco Webex for our meetups, the team also organised for some special guests to attend our sessions and hold discussions. Before now, we never would have thought of this particular way that our people gave purpose to technology.
One of our first special guests was 1998 Olympic swimming gold and silver medallist (and Telstra employee) Duncan Armstrong OAM, who enthralled with his amazing story. Hearing about his years of preparation working with coach Laurie Lawrence, and the world record race of 1 minute 47.25 seconds had the audience baying for more.
After this, our team quickly pivoted to use Duncan’s media experience as our host. What started so small quickly grew to something big – and continues to gain momentum.
The personal stories of some great people have been shared in the dark, early hours of each Wednesday morning. The expanding Telstra Connected Cycling community extended beyond cyclists to include walkers, runners and doona-dwellers; our people were finding intimacy and connection through this unique new format. With mental health, physical fitness and overall wellbeing becoming even more important during lockdown restrictions – particularly for Victorians – the TCC ProTeam had found the ingredients of something special. People were bumping into hump day with enthusiasm, and greeting the morning sun with a smile on their dial and a pep in their step.
With Telstra’s company-wide wellbeing program Get Together hitting a COVID barrier, we quickly recognised that our Cycling on VIDeo series – yes, that’s ‘COVIDeo’ – could build a base that could be expanded upon when restrictions lifted.
Get Together program partner Tour De Cure’s co-founder Geoff Coombes joined us to share his story of bringing people together to tackle some challenging cycling journeys all the while spreading the Tour de Cure message of ‘Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy’ and raising money for cancer research.
More recently, we spoke with Phil Liggett, the Voice of Cycling, who delighted the audience of stories from his long career as a cycling journalist. Fielding questions from the virtual peloton, Phil delighted everyone recounting stories of his great career and being transparent about his thoughts and interactions with the divisive personality that is Lance Armstrong. As one TCC-er noted: such are the dulcet tones of Phil, we could have listed to him recount the way he puts out the rubbish at night!
During the many weeks we shared with Geoff and Phil, we have heard from many great business- and sportspeople telling us not only of their success but also their challenges. Without exception, each were open about their own lows and challenging times.
The Telstra Connected Cycling COVideo series taught us many things over and above those stories shared by our guests. For us, it is a story of how passion drives results. It showcased the Agile methodologies that Telstra is implementing right across the business. Most importantly, it was also a real-life example of delivering on the power of partnerships with other tech companies like Zwift and Cisco who share our core value of people bringing purpose to technology.