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ØRBIKE – a dream coming true

With 280 bikes and up to 1200 cyclists, ØRBIKE is one of the largest indoor cycling events in Denmark. Meet Jesper Sørensen, the cycling aficionado behind it all, and read the full story about making a dream come true.
Published 10. January 2019

The story about one the largest indoor cycling events in Denmark, ØRBIKE, takes its beginning six years ago, when Jesper Sørensen, also known as JAS among friends, was first introduced to indoor cycling. With a deep-felt passion for road cycling, he found indoor cycling to be the perfect supplement to his training routine, and it did not take long before he was completely and utterly hooked. Consequently, he decided to become an indoor cycling instructor and soon started working as an instructor at Midtfyns Fitness Center leading indoor cycling classes on a daily basis.

Working at the local fitness center, he began, however, to feel an urge to test his instructor skills somewhere else. He envisioned a bigger scene and a larger crowd, and this kick-started his dream of organizing a large-scale indoor cycling event. As a young man he used to work as a DJ and with his passion for not only cycling but also for music, he felt that his dream was within reach. The idea of organizing an indoor cycling event kept growing on him, and he decided to commence on an exciting and challenging journey toward his goal.

The idea of ØRBIKE is born

“As an active road cyclist and working in the cycling industry in Denmark, representing ASSOS cycling wear, cycling is both a passion and a livelihood to me”, says Jesper Sørensen, in an attempt to describe what cycling means to him and what motivated him to organize the first ØRBIKE event.

Passion and personal ambitions were, however, not the only motivation factors for Jesper Jas Sørensen. Another strong motivation factor was the increased demand at the local indoor cycling center for a heart rate monitor system for group workout. “We tried hard to raise the funds for the heart rate monitor system, but we did not succeed”, says Jesper Jas Sørensen. “We talked to various foundations, sponsors and the local civic association, but they were not willing to fund equipment – only events! Suddenly, it seemed like I had reached the point of no return, and that this was the final incentive I needed to get the project started”.

Starting from scratch with absolutely no experience was tough

Difficult beginnings

The event gradually began to take shape – not only in the mind of Jesper Jas Sørensen but also in real life – and in 2014 the first ØRBIKE indoor cycling event finally took place in the small town of Ørbæk on the island of Funen, Denmark. The event spanned six hours and included 88 bikes and four company teams.

“Starting from scratch with absolutely no experience was tough”, Jesper Jas Sørensen admits. “With a last-minute sponsorship cycle race we just barely managed to make a small surplus, and skeptical voices doubted the future of the entire project. Should we take a risk and try again? It was not an easy decision, but fortunately we have managed to prove the skeptics wrong.”

From 88 to 280 bikes

Since the difficult beginnings, ØRBIKE has experienced significant growth, and has evolved into a fun and popular fundraising event selling tickets at record speed and with great importance to the local community. According to Jesper Jas Sørensen, ØRBIKE is one of the most entertaining and well-organized indoor cycling events in Denmark. He is of course not completely objective in his evaluation, but the numbers speak for themselves. When the event celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2018, it included 280 bikes, 45 company teams, 12 instructors, and 1200 riders who kept the bikes spinning for 12 hours. And every year, when the event takes place the second Saturday of November, the population of the small town of Ørbæk is doubled.

It takes 12 committed instructors to cover a 12-hour event

An invaluable team effort

“In the early days, I was sort of a lone warrior”, says Jesper Jas Sørensen, “but today, it is a very different story. Without the help of others, I could never pull it off. The more than 1200 riders need food, service and massage, and during the event more than 150 invaluable, local volunteers keep the wheels turning, so to speak. Together with our six members of the board and invaluable partners and sponsors, like Fitness Engros and BODY BIKE, our volunteers give the riders nothing less than a superior
and memorable cycling experience.”

Meet the instructors

When it comes to creating memorable cycling experiences, the indoor cycling instructors are leading forces that play a significant role in the success of the event. “It takes 12 committed instructors to cover a 12-hour event”, Jesper Jas Sørensen explains. “We always try to find instructors with different personalities and styles to ensure variation and to keep on challenging the riders. Our aim is to be able to present a mix of well-known, experienced instructors and new, upcoming talents.”

Orbike instructors ride high
Thomas Alsing, 6th hour – Evert van der Zee, final hour – Christian B. Mentzoni, 5th hour

Drummers and dancers

At ØRBIKE 2018, instructor Rikke Kirkegaard kicked off the event and made sure that the
riders got the pulse pumping and the sweat rolling during the first class of the day. She knew from experience that the opening hour of a big event has to offer something out of the ordinary. “When I said yes to open ØRBIKE 2018, I told Jas right away that I wanted an orchestra of drummers on the stage with me”, Rikke Kirkegaard says. “He agreed without flinching, and told me that he would find the drummers for me. Along the way I even added a solo dancer to the show.”

Indoor cycling comes first

Regardless of the big show setup, Rikke Kirkegaard is clear about what matters the most to her. “To me, the entertainment part is always secondary. The actual indoor cycling experience is truly what matters. That is why my event hours always closely resemble my daily classes at the local fitness center. I just add a bit of glamour, like drummers and a dancer, or change the playlist. Some tunes might work at the gym but not at a big event with hundreds of riders, stage lighting and so on”, Rikke Kirkegaard explains.

Passion & positive vibes

No matter where the scene is set, at the local gym or at a big event, indoor cycling is all about fun, passion and positive vibes, if you ask
Rikke Kirkegaard. “To me, being an indoor cycling instructor is all about having fun, spreading joy and motivating people to do their best. I love working with the combination of music, cycling and choreography and always strive to take it to a higher level. I have a true passion for indoor cycling, and I feel very privileged to be able to share it with others. It brings so much positive energy into my life”, Rikke concludes.

I want it to be fun and entertaining; a first class show combined with the best indoor cycling classes you can imagine

Making a difference for children with cancer

Like Rikke, Jesper Jas Sørensen is also driven by passion and by his strong commitment to develop a one-of-a-kind cycling event. “I want it to be fun and entertaining; a first class show combined with the best indoor cycling classes you can imagine. I want to try out new ideas and to create an event that people look forward to. That is my main motivation”, says Jesper Jas Sørensen.

In recent years, raising money for charity has, however, also become an important motivation. In 2018, ØRBIKE raised money for the Children’s Cancer Fund and Team Rynkeby to help support children with cancer and their families.

ØRBIKE in the future

Five years has flown by since the first ØRBIKE event, but Jesper Jas Sørensen and his team are still going strong. “We are hungry for more”, Jesper Jas Sørensen exclaims. “Our goal for the future is to consolidate our position as one of the leading indoor bike events in Denmark and even in Europe. We want to be the preferred indoor cycling event with the highest entertainment value, continuously setting the bar high when it comes to the quality of the bikes, stage lighting, sound, food, service and facilities. Through our passion, dedication and support from all the local volunteers I feel confident that ØRBIKE will be THE indoor cycling event to attend – not only next year but also in the years to come.”

Published 10. January 2019

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