By Emily Aradi, Senior Regional Marketing Manager
Recent data shows that mental health services have experienced a dramatic rise in the number of referrals in the last year in Great Britain. While this is by no means a local trend, the Zuora London office took to the streets (on two wheels) to raise awareness and contribute to an incredible organization, Mind UK, a non-profit that connects those who are struggling with critical mental health care services across England and Wales.
We’re so incredibly grateful to our colleagues, friends, and family who offered their support by donating a total of 3,623 GBP so far to this cause to be matched through Zuora’s Matching Gifts Program. We will continue to fundraise through Oct so if you haven’t donated yet, there’s still time! Visit our team fundraising page here.
Now for a recap of our ride and some of our riders!
On Friday, September 3rd, 12 London-based ZEOs took up the ambitious 100km city-to-coast challenge to cycle from London to Brighton. For those of you who aren’t as familiar with the geography, it’s almost like cycling from San Francisco to Napa. Or Sydney to Shellharbour.
Our ride took us straight through Central London (in rush hour) past suburbia, into many hilly climbs and sweeps down the beautiful English countryside. The road conditions were varied, some parts gravelly and choppy—and other sections—a dream. At times, we shared the road with heavy traffic (who exhibited varying levels of patience)—and other times—it’s as if we were the only humans for miles… and miles. 70 miles to be exact, including wrong turns (that’s more than 100km for us metrically inclined).
I often found myself pedaling along in a haze of exhaustion, all the voices in my head arguing with one another (“We should stop, No! We can’t stop. We can’t do this! Legs can’t handle this! etc.”) only to be jolted back to reality with the sweetest of rumors—”5km to the next rest stop.”
Now, we would be lying if any of us said we had completed this ride on our own. Before we even hit the starting line we had the support of our benefactors who wished us well and reminded us to wear padded shorts. We changed each other’s tires—in Nick’s case, on up to six occasions. And we reminded each other that quitting wasn’t an option.
We also had a team made up of London ZEOs who decided to play to their strengths and offer world-class support every 25km. Liz, Ella, and Amel loaded up a car chock full of performance potions, carbs, and caffeine. And every 25km along the route, as if by magic, these ladies would appear offering words of encouragement, cheers, and smiles. These stops became some of the most enjoyable moments of the journey for me.
Ditchling Beacon, a steep hill climb at the very end was in fact a toughie. But wow, was that view from the top incredible. We paused at the top to catch our breath and I wondered aloud, “Is this the part where we all get to cry?” The feeling of achievement was unparalleled as the sun gushed behind a marvelously fluffy cloud, illuminating the entire countryside stretching below.
It truly was all downhill from there, and by the time “the late crew” arrived, the party was in full swing. In true punctual British fashion, Steve and the speed-demons made sure they’d get to the finish line in time for a 4:00pm reservation at a pub right on the beach, where we enjoyed a celebratory pint and some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever tasted.
I feel so grateful to work with the type of people who continually push one another to achieve their best. Who look out for each other when things get tough. And who are the types of people who would sacrifice their own glory of probably finishing “first” in order to physically push someone up a hill, who, left to her own devices, would have given up after 20km.
This challenge stretched us all and I’m told this was just the warm-up. Let’s see where we go next year. In the meantime, I’m so inspired to keep looking out for each other in our own ways in our daily lives.
The Zuora team who took on this challenge:
- Alex White
- Dean Verbeek
- Nick Miller
- Petra Higgins
- Shahar Laxman
- Stephen Holdship
- Steve Crawley
- Ben de Groot
- Reed Sellers
- Meir Levy
- Emily Aradi
- Daniel Mija
- Ronaldo Galipo (former ZEO and ZEO4Life!)
You’ve heard my experience, now let’s hear what some of the ZEOs who participated thought of the challenge!
BEN DE GROOT | SALES ENGINEERING | EVENT ORGANIZER
From: Toronto, Canada
At Zuora: Just over 7 years
Riding a bike: For as long as I can remember… 40 years or so. But who’s counting?
Highlight: Most memorable moment was probably the first stop outside London. After 25km everyone was in great spirits, chatting with each other and encouraging everyone. We’d really come together as a team.
Lowest moment: Helping Nick with his 5th? 6th? Flat tyre and being seconds away from him quitting and calling the support car over. We got the tyre fixed and pressed on and successfully finished the ride.
Words for our benefactors: Thank you to everyone that donated to the cause. Mental health is such an important cause for me so thanks for all the help
DANIEL MIJA | SALES ENGINEERING
From: Originally Albania but raised in the UK
Time at Zuora: 1 month / 25 days, not that I’m counting or anything
Time on a bike: Long-distance? Four weeks before this event
Most memorable moment of the ride: The stunning view 3/4 of the way up of the mountain
Lowest moment: getting lost
Words for our benefactors: Thank you for your contribution! It was a great cause we rode for. And I would encourage everyone to just say “yes”. You are capable of doing a lot more than you think!
Bike: A really heavy one that I borrowed
NICK MILLER | GLOBAL SERVICES
From: Sunderland in the north
Time at Zuora: 5 years
Time on a bike: most recently in the last 6 months
Most memorable moment of the ride: puncture number 5 when we eventually found the cause!
Lowest moment: puncture number 5, just before we found the cause and we were about to call in the support car!
Words for our benefactors: Thanks for all the amazing support and donation. You could be forgiven for thinking this was a fun day out but there were a lot of tough moments where we remembered what we were doing this for. An amazing contribution to an amazing charity.
Bike: Ribble CGR SL
MEIR LEVY | GLOBAL SERVICES
At Zuora for: 8 weeks.
Riding a bike: Since the age of 5.
Highlight: Seeing Daniel crossing the finish line (aka the pub in Brighton).
Reasons for riding: With all the advanced medicine that we have it is important to pay attention to mental challenges that we all have in one way or another.
Bike: Colnago C60.
PETRA HIGGINS| ENGINEERING
From: New Zealand!!
At Zuora: 3 and half years
Riding a bike: properly? about 3 and half months
Highlight: Getting to the top of the Ditchling Beacon Hill after biking all the way up. I was so proud of myself and the view was amazing!
Lowest moment: Probably one of the two flat tyres I got
Words for our benefactors: I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to raise money for such an important charity like Mind – Thank you to everyone who has helped us help this worthy cause
SHAHAR LAXMAN | GLOBAL SERVICES
From: London, originally from Israel
At Zuora: 3 years
Riding a bike: 1 year
Highlight: reaching Beacon hill top
Lowest moment: Trying to buy road bike unsuccessfully before the ride
Words for our benefactors: thank you!!
REED SELLERS | GLOBAL SERVICES
From: Atlanta, GA, been in London since October 2020
At Zuora: Will be 3 years in November
Riding a bike: I have ridden off and on throughout my life, but only recently bought a cycle (June) and started training for this event
Highlight: Many! 1. Painful uphill pedaling followed by gleeful downhill acceleration! 2. The GIANT mountain in the last leg before the final stretch in Brighton 3. Relief and gratitude for the rest stops and support crew.
Lowest moment: (see #2 above) The mountain climb was a killer…
Words for our benefactors: Thank you SO MUCH for your generosity! We rode for a great cause and your contribution is welcomed and greatly appreciated. Also, dust off your cycles and plan to join us next year!
LIZ GLOVER | MARKETING | SUPPORT CREW
At Zuora: 8 years
Highlights: Hard to pick just one moment because the whole thing was so special. It was so rewarding to be back in the company of some of the London team and be reminded of how supportive, determined, loving and funny they are!
Some examples… Ben pushing Emily up the hill… scrambling for multiple tyre repairs and keeping Nick sane during his 109th… Stephen’s desperation to get to the pub on time… Emily saying ‘all my personalities are fighting each other’… Amel’s imaginary backseat friend… Ella swooping in with a big box of fish and chips for the beach side finish line…
ELLA BROWN | EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT & LONDON OFFICE MANAGER | SUPPORT CREW
At Zuora: 8 months
Highlights: 1) Taking the train back with delirious Emily was my highlight as well as the lovely weather. 2) the support crew running back to the support vehicle after the tracking stopped but then we realized that you guys were literally at the car already.
Would you consider undertaking this challenge next year? absolutely not – but it was good fun to be in the support car!