Bicycling – Is it the New Golf?

Old La Honda Road - WordPress - V2 (3)

By Stephen Burkhart

The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

Marissa Mayer at Yahoo. Marc Andreessen at Andreessen Horowitz. –Tell me, do you do forge partnerships on a bicycle ride?

Do you pen a deal while catching your breath – fresh off an endorphin high?

In Silicon Valley, and locales across the world, I read with amusement that bicycling is the new golf. That’s where deals get done, they say, churning up hills rather than sinking a putt.

The Economist recently wrote a piece to this effect 

… It is easier to get to know people while cycling than in other situations. “There is an easy rhythm about conversations on a bike.” 

The NY Times also brought up the subject a while back and focused on Silicon Valley as the proof point.

This could be good for The Hoffman Agency, I thought. My golf game is horrible … my bicycling a tad bit better.

I personally have met many wonderful people on a bicycle. Some of my best friendships have been formed over many long bicycle rides in Silicon Valley, from Sierra Road near Berryessa, to the inclines of Montebello and Henry Coe State Park.

But as far as a business purpose? I was on the lookout the other day while chugging up the 3-mile hill on Old La Honda Road near Woodside. That’s where the deals get done, I heard. Venture Capital row is not that far away. Many noted CEOs, I have heard, make riding up Old La Honda steeps a morning ritual.  

When I was turning my pedals up this semi-famous hill not that long ago, the road reminded me of Amsterdam. Bicycles were the dominant form of transportation. Dozens of riders of all shapes, sizes and ages were pushing their way upward.

Among the sea of bicycle humanity, just to keep my mind off my pounding heart, I wanted to see if I could discover a potential business partner along the way. With helmets, and sunglasses and spandex, that person(s) was going to be hard to spot. 

But then I came upon a group of gentlemen whose jerseys were emblazoned with the name of a venture firm.

I said, “Good morning,” and they responded in kind. But when I began the process of further introduction, their perspiration and labored breathing told me the moment was not quite right. I rode on.

When I got to the summit, there was a small community of cyclists – 50 or so – having a sociable conversation. Were they doing a deal? Probably not.

So for me, the idea of bicycling as the new golf hasn’t happened just yet. But who knows, maybe John Chambers will call me for a bike ride in the future and I’ll find out. 


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