Microsoft powers bleeding-edge technologies, but many at Microsoft Silicon Valley prefer a lower tech approach to transportation: two wheels, pedals, and good old-fashioned leg power.
Recently, employees formed 5 teams of up to 5 people to compete in the Bay Area’s Team Bike Challenge. In 2012, “4,425 individuals registered on 664 teams, with 245 companies competing. Together [they] biked a total of 701,710 miles!” This year, the participation numbers participation numbers surged and a total of 1,122,869 miles were biked, far outriding 2012's total distance.
Participants acquire daily mileage points for their teams. They score 1 point for 0 to 10 miles, 2 points for 10 to 20 miles and 3 points for 20 + miles.
Kathryn Koehler, Principal Development Lead at Mediaroom and the 2013 MSV point leader, says, “It’s a fun way for people to get together and to encourage each other to cycle during their commute.”
She explains, “I was already doing a 14-mile round trip bike commute to work, but I upped it to a larger loop for a full 20 miles. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Fortunately, there was great camaraderie and great people to help me push through.”
Kimberley Boester, Senior Service Operations for Mediaroom, was this year’s total mileage leader (with some 800 miles under her belt). A 13-year Microsoft veteran and former road and mountain bike racer, Kimberley says, “Here at MSV we have a really good culture of fitness. There’s also a running group, a tennis group, yoga, and much more.”
“Microsoft also supports us with incentives for taking care of ourselves like by providing bike lockers and offering discounted bike purchases,” she notes.
Clifton Craig, a Senior Software Development Engineer at Skype, points out, “People here love to bike. There is an overall appreciation for biking across the company as well as a desire to do something positive for their overall health and the environment.
Susan Catan, Executive Business Administrator for Xbox and a multi-year Team Bike Challenge participant, says, “Here at MSV we love to compete. But we also have fun and, most importantly, we have amazing support from our management for events and programs like this.”
All of the MSV riders said that they hope to see even more participation next year and there is talk of forming an all women team in 2014.
Kathryn concludes, “It was a really positive experience and our team gelled. That said, I was really happy to go back to my normal 14-mile commute by the end and give my legs a bit of a rest. “