Tag: Indoor cycling events


I lost my mum to cancer in 2000, but the idea of cycling4cancer first came about in 2013 when a friend of mine – TV sports journalist Morten Ankerdal – approached me about a fundraiser when his dad had cancer. I was an indoor cycling instructor then, but Morten thought he could beat me on the bike. We organised a three-hour indoor cycling event and I beat him big time! 

As the loser, his challenge was to raise lots of money for cancer research, which he did along with his co-hosts of Knæk Cancer – a massive televised event in Denmark which raises money for cancer research every year, and which translates as ‘Crack Cancer’.

It gave me the idea for a much bigger 24-hour indoor cycling event, which would be part of Knæk Cancer each year. The first cycling4cancer event took place in 2014 and we’ve continued every year since then.

“The event is an overwhelmingly upbeat one, filled with positive vibes and happy memories of those we may have lost”

Kim Guhle is the creator of cycling4cancer and wears his mission with pride

What’s the concept?

Cycling4cancer is a 24-hour indoor cycling event that finishes at 6.00pm on the Saturday of Knæk Cancer, while the TV coverage is ongoing. For 2022, that meant starting at 6.00pm on Friday 28 October and finishing at 6.00pm on 29 October.

It’s the ultimate corporate teamworking and networking event, with businesses paying for a bike – a minimum donation of DKK10,000 (around €1,350) that goes directly to Knæk Cancer – and asking their employees to ride it.

There are 24 sessions of 45–50 minutes each, with a short break in between while we change the instructor and DJ, and every bike must be ridden for the full 24 hours.

We’ve set DKK10,000 as the minimum donation because at this level, your company’s name comes up in the Knæk Cancer TV coverage. Some organisations donate more, though: in 2022 we had a bank pay DKK50,000 for one bike, while a plumbing firm took two bikes at DKK25,000 each. Other companies pay DKK10,000 but also donate DKK5–10 per kilometre cycled by their employees.

We do also have individuals who fund a bike themselves and put a team together to ride, often because they have a relative who’s sick or who they want to remember. These stories are very moving; I admit I find myself crying quite a lot throughout the 24 hours. However, the event is an overwhelmingly upbeat one, filled with positive vibes and happy memories of those we may have lost.

Finally, I have a couple of bikes where – if you really want to take part but can’t organise a team or afford a whole bike – you can ride for an hour for DKK500.

Cycling4cancer event
For a minimum DKK10,000 donation, companies buy a bike for the event and ask employees to ride it

“Exercise and positivity keeps cancer at bay. I will do this again and again and again to keep raising money for cancer research”

Tell us about the 2022 event

It nearly didn’t happen, because my girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer in April and died in August. I honestly wasn’t sure I had the energy to do it. I also started to question the purpose of doing all this every year when my loved ones were still dying.

But then I reminded myself of my personal motto – that exercise and positivity keeps cancer at bay – and I decided this was no time for quitting. Cancer never sleeps, and I will do this again and again and again to keep raising money for cancer research.

And it was an incredible event, with 118 BODY BIKES provided by our sponsor Fitness Engros in action for the 24 hours. That’s 30 more than last year and there was a lot of love, happiness and sweat in the room!

People also brought family and friends to support them and enjoy the event: we had over 4,000 people in attendance.

We are hugely grateful to our 24 incredible instructors and our best-in-Denmark DJs who gave their time for free, and our sponsors who provided the bikes, the venue, the refreshments, the lighting and everything else we needed to put the event on. As always, the whole thing was done for free: not one bit of money passes through my hands.

Indoor cycling event, cycling4cancer, cycling for cancer
BODY BIKE’s Danish distributor Fitness Engros sponsored the event, providing 118 bikes

What’s your role on the day?

I used to be one of the instructors, but I now host and push to get fundraising as high as possible. Between each session, I get up on stage and ask everyone in the saddle to post on their social media and LinkedIn accounts asking for sponsorship before they start, and to post again afterwards to say how far they cycled.

I then kick every session off – calling out “Knæk!” from the stage, to which all the participants shout back “Cancer!” – before leaving it to the instructor and DJ to crank it up.

All sponsorship goes direct to Knæk Cancer using a dedicated MobilePay code, so funds are allocated to our event and we know how much we’ve raised.

And how much did you raise?

I had hoped to raise DKK3m in 2022 (a little over €400,000), but with the economic crisis hitting hard, we didn’t quite reach that target: the figure we announced on the day was DKK2.1m.

Money is still coming in, though; we’ve already passed DKK2.4m and, once the final bits of sponsorship are counted, I expect to hit DKK2.5m. I’m pleased with that. Knæk Cancer lowered its overall 2022 forecasts by 30 per cent and ended up bringing in DKK117m on the day, down from DKK150m in 2021. Meanwhile, cycling4cancer will have raised DKK2.5m compared to DKK2.6m in 2021. In spite of all the pressures in the world at the moment, our event continues to have great momentum.

Once we’ve added 2022’s fundraising to the DKK8.3m we raised between 2014 and 2021, our running total will hit DKK10.8m.

Denmark’s top DJs give their time for free at cycling4cancer

What comes next for you?

We’ll keep raising the bar with cycling4cancer and we’ll keep fighting.

At the moment, I organise just one event each year, although we do sell ‘f*ck cancer’ merchandise throughout the year. I do this alongside a full-time job and it’s all-consuming: finishing at 6.00pm on the Saturday, by the Sunday morning I was already thinking about next year’s event!

However, I would like to grow to at least two events a year – one in the spring and one in October – as well as potentially organising some pop-up events too. I want to keep driving awareness of my motto and belief that exercise and positivity can keep cancer at bay.

I’d also love to make this a global event, finding local organisers who can partner with me to host simultaneous events around the world, with all funds going to cancer research in those countries. I’d love us all to stick up our middle fingers and say together: ‘F*ck cancer’.

Tour de Force

Kenneth Muhs

Kenneth Muhs

Mayor, Nyborg City Council

What was Nyborg’s role in the 2022 Tour de France?

The second leg of the Tour finished in Nyborg, so our city welcomed the riders as they crossed the line on 2 July, having cycled the 202km from Roskilde. 

It was a huge honour for Nyborg: ours is a municipality of just 32,000 inhabitants, so to be involved in one of the world’s greatest sporting events was exceptionally special for us.

And it wasn’t just about us, either: it was about the whole of Denmark, with the country as a whole awarded this year’s Grand Départ. As a result, five cities across Denmark hosted the first three stages of this year’s Tour.

Why did Nyborg want to be part of it?

First of all, as I say, it was a great honour. Beyond this, however, there were – and will hopefully continue to be – very practical benefits of having been involved.

The boost to our local businesses, for example. We have a lot of accommodation in our city, and our hotels and campsites were in high demand from the moment our involvement in the Tour was announced in 2019. In turn, other local businesses – shops, restaurants, cafés and so on – also benefited.

Then there’s the long-term impact on tourism. The Tour de France is aired in 190 countries around the world, which gave us a wonderful platform to present a ‘postcard’ of Nyborg – showing off our city, our history, our culture and hopefully tempting people to visit.

Tour de France Denmark
Events included a special yellow jersey group cycling class (Photo: Frislev Film)

What did the day involve?

It wasn’t just about race day, in fact, or even just about cycling: there were lots of sporting, cultural and educational events in the lead-up to 2 July. 

We had local schools learning about France, for example, and businesses putting yellow bikes all around the city. There was also a sold-out family-friendly event on 11 June where 16,000 amateur cyclists rode some or all of the Tour de France leg from Roskilde to Nyborg.

Nyborg hosted lots of sporting, cultural and educational events in the lead-up to 2 July (Photos: Nyborg Municipality)

But the day itself was of course very special, with Nyborg welcoming more than 80,000 visitors including HRH the Crown Prince of Denmark. 

Obviously not everyone was able to stand at the finishing line, so we had 12 event zones across the city where people could watch the race on a big screen, enjoying music, food and activities too. We closed many of the roads in the city centre, turning it into a big festival.

“The Tour de France is aired in 190 countries, giving us a wonderful platform to present a ‘postcard’ of Nyborg”

We had cultural activities too: archery, for example, because ours is a historic city with a castle. And then in the evening we had a big party and concert. 

All our council-organised events were free, but we also allocated space to local organisations to run their own events, which they could charge for if they wished. We had football clubs hosting fan-zones, for example, and a BODY BIKE group cycling class.

For us, these independent events were an important part of the story. We set the stage and supported them with some infrastructure, but the success of the day wasn’t purely down to us: everyone came together to create something very special, and it looked amazing when the TV helicopters flew overhead and saw it all happening. 

Tour de France nyborg
The cycling class took place over seven hours, with friends sharing the ride so everyone got to enjoy it (Photos: Frislev Film)

What did all this cost Nyborg?

We paid 10 million Danish Krone for the rights to be part of the Tour and spent a further 5.9 million on infrastructure and events across the city – so a total budget of 15.9 million Danish Krone (approximately €2.15m).  

Was it worth it? Absolutely, even if you just look at the reach and impact of the publicity for our city. To reach an audience of that size, and in so many countries across the globe, we’d quickly have spent that much – and more – on commercials, brochures, PR and so on. 

And that’s without factoring in the immediate boost to local businesses or the sense of pride across our city, which is impossible to put a price on.

Danmark - Nyborg - Torvet 25/06/2022 Børnetouren i Nyborg
Nyborg organised Tour de France-themed events for citizens of all ages (Photo: Nyborg Municipality)

Have you done anything like this before?

It was the first time Nyborg had ever done something on this scale, but it proves that we can.

Whether cycling fans or not, we had strong support from residents across the city: there was a huge sense of pride and a powerful coming together, including a large number of volunteers who gave their time to show the world what great hosts we could be. 

A key aspect of our Tour legacy will therefore be the learnings we’ve drawn and the foundations we now have in place to host similar events in the future. Nyborg may be a small city, but we have big ambitions!

Jesper Jas
Experience the buzz of the yellow jersey group cycling event in this video!

Jesper ‘JAS’ Sørensen

Co-organiser, BODY BIKE event

Tell us about your event…

As soon as I knew the Tour was coming to Denmark, I wanted to get involved. I have a long history of organising mass indoor cycling events, so I teamed up with Berit Kolding Wedel of Nyborg Family and Company Sport, a local NGO, to organise a seven-hour cycling event which took place just 300 metres from Nyborg’s Tour de France finishing line.

We had seven hour-long slots, each with its own instructors, and then we had ‘wingmen’ on-stage next to them to create a strong presence: there were five or six people cycling on-stage at all times, all dressed in the famous Tour de France-style yellow jerseys. 

“We had five or six people cycling on-stage at all times, all dressed in Tour de France-style yellow jerseys”

The brief to all our instructors was simple: make it a party with great music and a great vibe. And don’t make the workout too hard, because quite a lot of people are going to be cycling the full seven hours!

We had a big screen in front of the bikes so participants could follow the Tour while they rode, but mostly people were absorbed in their own ride with our instructors. It was really only in the last hour or so of the race, when we could hear the helicopters following the Tour approaching the city, that people began to focus more on the screen.

Danmark - Nyborg - 02/07/2022 Tour de France i Nyborg
BODY BIKE and Fitness Engros provided the bikes for the special group cycling class (Photo: Nyborg Municipality)

How many people took part?

We had 75 BODY BIKES and about 250 participants. Somewhere between 10 and 15 people did the full seven hours of cycling, but most people switched in and out with friends so everyone could enjoy an hour or two.

For the last two hours, we made it compulsory for all participants – as well as the instructors on-stage – to wear the yellow jerseys we provided as part of the ticket price. 

What was the atmosphere like?

It was incredible. Everyone was smiling, the weather was perfect – sunny but not too hot and with a lovely breeze – and the music was pumping. We were just one small part of a huge celebration across the city, but you could hear our event from kilometres away!

We could hear the shouting of the Tour supporters near the finishing line too, which added to the buzz.

“I’ve organised a lot of cycling events in my life, but this really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience”

The whole event was just so happy and positive. When we finished, participants told us – and continued to tell us on social media – that it was a historically great event. I’ve organised a lot of cycling events in my life, but this really was a one-off. Everyone was on a real high.

Thousands of people came to watch what we were doing throughout the seven hours, too, feeling the energy and following our progress. Local newspapers were taking photos. It was such a great advert for indoor cycling.

Jesper Jas Sørensen, Berit Kolding Wedel Co-organiser Tour de france nyborg indoor cycling event
Co-organiser Berit Kolding Wedel joins Sørensen for a celebratory photo

How will you look back on this?

Across Denmark, there was a massive focus on making the Tour de France one big party, with armies of volunteers coming together to make it a success. Support for the race itself was also huge, with around a third of the Danish population turning out on the Tour de France route to watch the race go past. 

Running our cycling event as part of this… It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and just the most incredible experience.

Reclaiming The Crown

What inspired this record attempt?
In 2009, aged 47, I was diagnosed as morbidly obese. I weighed 154kg, I couldn’t see my toes and it was a struggle to climb a set of stairs.

That same year, I discovered indoor cycling and have worked out on an indoor bike, six days a week, ever since. I’ve dropped 50kg and, now aged 59, feel fitter and happier than I did in my 20s and 30s. The social aspect of cycling classes at my local gym has also been hugely beneficial for my self-confidence and my overall mental and emotional wellbeing.

“Our World Record attempts are all part of our fundraising efforts to give kids and teens in under-served communities a happier, healthier start in life”

Inspired by this transformation, I made a career-changing decision and launched TRANSFORM-US Fitness for Kids. Based here in Australia, we deliver fun, structured PE and sports programmes into primary schools to help reduce childhood obesity, focusing on improving fundamental movement and object control skills.

As the years went by, though, I started to see a huge socioeconomic divide opening up. Kids from poorer communities were falling further behind in their learning and their overall health and wellbeing. In 2018, I set up the Fab to be Fit Foundation to help bridge that gap, raising funds to deliver our proven programmes in under-served communities.

Our World Record attempts are all part of our fundraising efforts to give these kids and teens a happier, healthier start in life.

Kevin Moultrie set up the Fab to be Fit Foundation and fundraises on its behalf (photo courtesy of Nathan Roderick)

Why this particular World Record?
Sporting challenges feel very relevant to our goals at the Foundation, so our fundraising efforts include a lot of crazy physical and sporting challenges – entering teams into the Spartan Beast Race, for example.

As I mentioned before, I’m a regular indoor cyclist. Many of our volunteers and ‘friends’ are also outdoor and indoor cycling fanatics – a number of them have completed crazy ultra-endurance outdoor cycling events such as Race Across America, the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, 24hr Everesting, 24hr MTB events and so on – so we started to discuss an endurance-style fundraising event.

In early 2019, I came across the Guinness World Record (GWR) for Longest Static Cycling Class, which at the time was held by a team of New Zealanders and sat at 26hrs: 04mins: 24secs. Our team gladly accepted the challenge, and on the weekend of 31 August 2019, we set a new Guinness World Record of 27hrs: 00mins: 53secs, with every one of our 15 riders completing the challenge.

BODY BIKE donated 30 brand new Smart+ OceanIX bikes for the event

Sadly, during the early days of COVID lockdown here in Australia, a team of endurance cyclists from the United States officially broke our World Record, adding another hour to set a new time of 28hrs: 00mins: 00secs.

We decided we wanted to reclaim what we saw as ‘our’ World Record.

How did it go this time?
We were delayed by a couple of months due to Omicron, but in January 2022 it was finally time – and the short version is, we’re now Double World Record Holders having set a new record of 30hrs: 02mins: 16secs.

The longer version of the story is this… We had lined up a team of 18 riders, including our instructor James Lamb – one of six returning riders from our 2019 team. By the Thursday before the event, we had lost two riders to COVID, then lost two more on the morning of the event. GWR rules state that the class must be 11 people – 10 plus the instructor – so COVID certainly ate away at our safety buffer.

“For the 30 hours of the event, our instructor James Lamb had to learn the choreography to 330 tracks”

We started at 10.00am on Saturday 15 January with 14 in the team, lost one rider overnight to a medical situation, and finished at 4.00pm on the Sunday afternoon with 13 riders, setting a new World Record.

We each cycled between 725km and 870km over the 30 hours – an average of around 805km – and each of us burned on average 18,000 calories. Average per-rider watts across the 30 hours was 135, with one or two riders getting close to a 170-watt average, which I find mind-blowing!

We got some great media coverage to drive awareness of the Foundation, and even though events like this cost a lot to run, we raised a net profit of over A$12,000. This has gone straight back into the Foundation, allowing us to pay specialist staff to run our programmes free of charge in selected communities.

How strict are Guinness World Record rules?
Very – and you have to put a lot of measures in place to ensure compliance. First, you need two independent witnesses, two timekeepers and a steward in the room at all times during the attempt – we had them on four-hour rotating shifts – to ensure everyone is doing the right thing. You also need cameras in the room capturing continuous footage of the entire attempt from a number of different angles: focusing on the instructor, the digital timeclock, and all the riders.

The instructor must be the same person throughout and the whole team rides together for the entirety of the attempt. The ride must be structured as a proper indoor cycling class: the RPM of the music has to change – 60–90RPM for standing climb tracks, 105–130RPM for seated speed tracks, and so on – and as a team, you must follow the instructions and positions of the instructor at all times. The cameras pick up the cadence of each rider, establishing whether you’re in-time with the music and the instructor.

There’s no GWR requirement to provide wattage, calorie or distance data, though: we just had this because we were using the BODY BIKE app. For the purposes of the World Record attempt, the cameras just need to show everyone riding to the beat of the music and to the instructor’s directions.

The team’s record-breaking efforts raised A$12,000 for the Fab to be Fit Foundation (photo © Nathan Roderick)

As in a standard indoor cycling class, there are very short breaks – 10–15 seconds – between tracks where you can stretch your calves, but Guinness World Record rules also allow a five-minute break after every hour completed, or 10 minutes after two hours. That break has to be taken together as a group, though: you can’t have individuals taking their break at different times.

I hung an A1 chart on the wall that mapped out our ride sequences and breaks, when meals would be brought out, when we had to be weighed and when we’d do a kit change. We had an accredited sports dietitian and her team on-hand for the full 30 hours, keeping us fuelled and hydrated and weighing us every six hours, and we learned to eat while cycling.

How did it feel to regain the World Record?
Speaking from my own perspective, this attempt was physically and mentally far harder than the first one: I hit the wall at about midnight this time, four hours sooner than last time. Even as we passed the previous record of 28 hours, I was still wondering whether I would be there to hit the 30-hour mark. It was a real sense of achievement and fulfilment to make it to the end.

The team celebrate their new Guinness World Record: 30 hours, 2 minutes and 16 seconds

Would you ever do it again?
If anyone is stupid enough to want to take this record off us, they are most welcome to it. Twice is enough!

In fact, just before our attempt, James and I found out that a team in the UK had completed a 29-hour ride the weekend before, which was still being ratified. Luckily we’d always planned to do 30 hours, so we kept the news to ourselves rather than alarming our team. But ultimately, I’m sure someone will beat us at some point. And when they do, as I say, they’re most welcome to it. No way am I going again!

Anyone you’d like to recognise?
Our whole team was incredible: riders, volunteers, supporters, medical staff, dietitian and physio who pushed us through the pain barrier and back out the other side.

However, I would like to give a special shout-out to our instructor James Lamb, who also led our previous Guinness World Record. For the 30 hours of the event, James had to learn the choreography to 330 tracks – but of course, he was also under huge pressure to constantly review everyone, checking how we were looking and feeling, checking everyone’s cadence, pushing everyone along and making sure no-one fell out of sequence.

James really is the only indoor cycling instructor I would ever ask to take on such an epic event. To be able to manage a team through such a pain barrier and come out the other side, as well as focusing on his own highs and lows… What an achievement!

“If anyone is stupid enough to want to take this record off us, they are most welcome to it. Twice is enough!”

My thanks go too to Rupert Guinness – internationally acclaimed sports journalist, best-selling author, ultra-endurance athlete and one of our 13 riders – whose mental and physical strength and inspirational stories helped get our team through this challenge.

Finally, I’d like to thank BODY BIKE, who generously donated 30 brand new BODY BIKE Smart+ OceanIX indoor bikes for our event. Incredibly smooth and robust, these were the perfect bikes for our epic ride. They have since been fully serviced and sold to gyms around Australia as special limited-edition bikes.

Riding for Brain Health

Brain health has hit the news over recent months, with a growing number of former rugby and football players being diagnosed with early-onset dementia – the result of countless brain traumas over the years of playing their chosen sport. 

Former Welsh rugby international Alix Popham is among them. “But rather than dwell on it or feel sorry for myself, I’m trying to be as positive as possible,” he explains. The result is not only a personal mission to stay as well as he can for as long as he can, but a new charitable foundation – Head for Change – which he launched with his wife Mel in January 2021 and which kicked off with a headline-grabbing fundraiser, the Rugby Ride Challenge, in March.

We talk to Popham about his story, his hopes for the foundation, and the recent cycling challenge.

Alix, you won 33 caps for Wales. What were your career highlights?
I remember my career from my younger years pretty well. I started playing at the age of four and most of my childhood revolved around rugby: training, tours, tournaments. I was in a very good team from the age of four to 17 and rugby became my everyday life.

I know what I did because I have it written down. But 95% of it I don’t really remember.

But as we progress into my professional career, the memories become less clear. I know what I did, and who I played for, because I have it written down. But I would say probably 95 per cent of it I don’t really remember. 

My last game for Wales, for example, in 2008: we beat England at Twickenham for the first time in 22 years. I know I played in the game, because I have the jersey on the wall, but I have no recollection of being at Twickenham. When I watched the replay on TV last year, it felt like the first time I’d seen it. 

The way my neuropsychologist explained it to me: my brain became so inflamed during that period – the result of taking so much contact during training and games – that my mind was taking photos of what was happening, but there was no ‘film’ to store those memories.

When did you realise something was wrong?
Things hadn’t been right for some time. For a while, my wife Mel thought I wasn’t listening to her or that I was going deaf, because especially in a group environment – with lots of people talking – I would struggle to take in what people were saying. I would often lose my train of thought, too, and struggle to concentrate. I’d use the wrong words for things, or simply forget the word for a very simple everyday object. And I’d get severe headaches, especially if I was feeling stressed.

Popham cycled 408 miles over the two days of the challenge

Around June of 2019, Mel suggested I go to the doctor, but I was convinced it was just work stress. It was only on a bike ride at the beginning of September that year – when I suddenly found myself totally lost, in spite of having done the route hundreds of times before – that I went to see my GP, who fortunately was also a neurologist, and testing began.

Current Welsh and English rugby players are doing 230–240 contact days a year. That has to be reduced.

My MRI scan and neuro-psychological assessment didn’t provide any real answers as to the cause of my symptoms, though, so I was introduced to a neurologist who specialised in sports head injuries. The resulting DTI scan picked up five areas in my brain that were significantly damaged and, on 16 April 2020, the diagnosis was made. I had early onset dementia as a result of repetitive brain trauma.

Popham with his children and wife Mel

How did Head for Change come about?
I have three daughters – aged 16, 12 and three – so at that point, Mel and I started googling ‘how to tell teenagers that their dad has early onset dementia’. All the information related to grandparents, though; there was nothing helpful we could take away to talk to our kids about.

Luckily we were put in touch with a wonderful woman, Dr Judith Gates, whose husband Bill previously played for Middlesbrough FC. He also has dementia, and Judith helped us role-play how to tell the girls.

But off the back of this, we realised there was a desperate need for support for all those going through the same thing. At the time I was being tested, there were only around 15 other guys going through the tests. Now there are about 250 in the UK alone, and I imagine thousands more men and women struggling, being wrongly diagnosed as depressed, drinking too much, even attempting suicide.

We wanted to get information out there as quickly as possible to support ex-players and their families. Head for Change is the result.

Popham: “I want to see more education, starting at grassroots, so everyone who gets a knock to the head knows to take it seriously”

What is the foundation hoping to achieve?
We’re in start-up mode at the moment, but we’re already aware of loads of great research projects going on around the world. The problem is, nobody’s really talking to each other. We want to try and bring together all the best brains in the world to build a body of research, and come up with solutions, to help those diagnosed.  

We want to provide support and information for those affected, and their families.

And we want to encourage change within the sport to make the game safe, so parents are still happy for their kids to play. That means reducing the amount of contact in training; it’s believed 85 per cent of the damage to my brain was done during training sessions. In the NFL, players have a maximum of 32 days of contact a year, but I’ve spoken to current Welsh and English rugby players who are doing three or four contact training sessions a week, plus matches. That’s 230–240 contact days a year, and that has to be reduced. 

I’d also like to see regular player MOTs and an injury database so players’ history can be tracked, even if they move clubs. And I want to see more education across the board, starting at grassroots, so everyone who gets a knock to the head knows to take it seriously.

I believe there’s a lot of positive change we can introduce to protect players and the game we love. If all of this and I were starting out in my rugby career now, I’d happily do it – but otherwise, no.

Tell us about the Rugby Ride Challenge.
Right now, we’re pushing hard on fundraising to get Head for Change fully up and running. The Rugby Ride Challenge was the first big event.

Taking place on 6–7 March 2021, the event was organised in collaboration with Zwift, so everyone was cycling the same virtual course. Over the two days, almost 2,000 people took part; it was 12 hours a day, broken down into two-hour sessions, and you could take part in anything from two hours to the full 24. 

Cycling pro Geraint Thomas got in touch when he heard about the foundation, and he completed three two-hour stages on Sunday, but we had over 100 former international rugby stars taking part too, as well as hundreds of members of public. Each participant was asked to compete on behalf of their nation – England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales or Rest of the World – with the miles they racked up going to their team’s total.

Between them, the participants cycled an incredible 106,495 miles over the space of the weekend, raising over £58,000 for Head for Change. Team England topped the total mileage leaderboard with 20,174 miles; Team Wales came out on top on an average miles per capita basis. As part of Team Wales, I personally cycled 408 miles over the two days, raising £3,012.

We’re hoping the success of this event will now spur people on to become community champions for the foundation, organising their own events to raise funds and much-needed awareness. 

Even if all someone does is sign up for our newsletter, that’s OK. We just want people to be having these conversations, to be aware, to get involved.

How important is exercise to you these days?
I try to do as many of the things that help me feel good, and that help my family, as I can. That means regular exercise, a Mediterranean diet, the various therapies I’m finding beneficial – using a hyperbaric chamber, infrared sauna and red light therapy, for example – and cutting stress out of my life where possible. These are all the 1 per cents that will hopefully add up to keep me here, the way I am, for as long as possible.

In terms of exercise, I’m sure other sportsmen and women are the same, but I still get a great feeling after training, setting myself up for the day. I was never really into long runs, but I’ve always enjoyed cycling, both for the exercise and for the social aspect of going out for a ride with friends. Now I’m putting the hours in on my BODY BIKE, which I love – not least because it’s silent, so I can watch my box sets without turning up the TV to the point I deafen the family! I’ll sometimes train on Zwift with friends, too.

The increased flow of blood and oxygen to the brain when you exercise can help slow the progress of dementia

Research by professor Damian Bailey – who’s worked in this field for 20 years – shows that former pro-rugby players are getting to the age of 60 and presenting with the brain health of a 75- or 80-year-old. However, his studies also show the increased flow of blood and oxygen to the brain when you exercise can help slow the progress of dementia. We’re now looking to do some more research in this area, specifically among former players diagnosed with early onset dementia.

Importantly, though, professor Bailey’s research shows that exercise is important for everyone’s brain health, not just former sports stars. He’s shown that a normal person who exercises three times a week throughout their life will, by the time they’re 60 years old, have the brain health of a 40-year-old.

Given that dementia is set to be the biggest killer in the UK in a matter of years, we’re therefore keen to educate everyone about the importance to their brain health of staying active.

A keen cyclist, Popham did the Race Across America in 2015, 2016 and 2017

Changing the world, one smile at a time

As creator of the J METHOD, fitness influencer Jennifer Jacobs had already spent years helping individuals of all ages to reach their fitness goals, improve their movement, find balance, optimise their nutrition and think positively.

But her desire to be an agent of change took her a step further still when she became involved with Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft charity (see ‘The power of a smile’).

When Jacobs heard how children living with a cleft struggle to eat, breathe and speak – and that 90 per cent will die before the age of 19 without treatment – she contacted Smile Train to find out how she could help. In 2019, those conversations led to her travelling to Mexico, where she met with some of the local healthcare workers who provide free cleft treatment and care in their own communities.

Fitness influencer Jennifer Jacobs is passionate about the Smile Train charity
Fitness influencer Jennifer Jacobs is passionate about the Smile Train charity

“each beautiful smile on those children’s faces changed my life forever”  – Jennifer Jacobs

She also met with patients and saw for herself how the care facilitated by Smile Train was capable of changing lives. She explains: “As a mother, I could only imagine a situation where the one you love the most needs help, but you don’t know where to go or what to even ask. You feel absolutely helpless. You feel like there is no hope.

“My trip to Mexico showed me how Smile Train provides that hope. Each beautiful smile on those children’s faces changed my life forever.”

Smile Train international children's charity

From live to virtual

On her return to the US, Jacobs inspired her 140,000+ social media followers to get involved, and together they raised enough money to fund almost 60 life-saving cleft surgeries. But Jacobs wanted to go further and, at the beginning of 2020, started working with Smile Train to plan the first-ever RIDE for Smile Train – a two-day signature event that was scheduled to take place in Arizona in November.

59,373 people completed the strava challenge, using indoor bikes and cycling on local roads

Then COVID hit. As the pandemic dragged into summer, it was obvious an in-person event was no longer a viable option. RIDE for Smile Train: Home Edition was born.

Ride for Smile Train home edition
To round off the Home Edition event, Jacobs led a virtual group cycling workout

The fundraising event kicked off with the Miles for Smiles Strava challenge, which took place over the week of 1–7 November 2020. Participants were challenged to record 250 minutes of activity on the fitness platform – alluding to the fact that US$250 can cover the cost of one life-saving cleft surgery – with Jacobs curating daily workouts to motivate those taking part.

The Strava challenge was then followed, on 14 November, by a live broadcast across Smile Train’s social media channels, where Jacobs led participants on a virtual group cycling workout. By harnessing the power of the Zwift platform, cyclists around the world were able to “ride together”.

Miles for Smiles Strava challenge participants
The event kicked off with the Miles for Smiles Strava challenge

Reports from Strava showed huge interest in the event, with 93,701 total participants and an impressive 59,373 completing the challenge, both using indoor bikes at home and cycling on roads around their local communities.

“For every one of us, it was such a huge motivation to know we were raising money that would give children a chance to live their best lives,” says Jacobs.

And raise money they certainly did. The grand total? An impressive US$66,800.

To find out more about Smile Train



Claude's new smile after cleft surgery
To date, Smile Train has supported cleft care for 1.5+ million children globally

The power of a smile

Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate.

Every three minutes, somewhere in the world, a child is born with a cleft. Many of these children will go untreated and live in isolation, suffering severe problems with eating, breathing and speaking.

Smile Train is the largest cleft-focused organisation with a model of true sustainability: it provides training, funding and resources to empower local medical professionals in 70+ countries to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care in their own communities.

To date, Smile Train has supported safe, high-quality cleft care for 1.5+ million children around the world. It will continue to do so “until every child in need with a cleft has access to the care they deserve”.

A cast of thousands

“My initial ambition for Ørbike, back in 2014 when we ran the first event, was to raise money to buy equipment for our local fitness club,” says Jesper ‘JAS’ Sørensen, Ørbike organiser. “Beyond this, my dream – and my ultimate goal – has always been to raise money for charity, especially the Children’s Cancer Foundation. People like to participate in events that support charity, and as a result, Ørbike has raised €20,000 since the event began.”

The Ørbike concept – back-to-back indoor cycling classes for hundreds of people at a time, all led from the stage by top instructors to the backdrop of a pumping music soundtrack and great lighting – has proved very popular: in spite of taking place in the small town of Ørbæk, Ørbike has grown to become Denmark’s second largest indoor cycling event, taking place every November.

“The first year, we had 88 bikes for a six-hour event. That year was very hard. The breakthrough came when we entered into partnerships with sponsors – that’s the reason we’re still here today,” says Sørensen. “By the second year, we had already leapt up to 256 bikes, 10 hours of cycling, and all 256 tickets were sold out in two days.”

Fast-forward to 2019 and the event’s appeal shows no sign of waning: Ørbike 2019, which took place over 12 hours on Saturday 9 November, attracted a total of 1,500 participants. And that, of course, meant a lot of bikes – 272 BODY BIKES, to be precise.

“In addition to the five people in our core team, we had 150 volunteers involved in the preparation of the event: setting up the light, the show, the food, and gathering the bikes from fitness clubs across Denmark. We had 200 brand new SMART+ bikes from BODY BIKE and Fitness Engross, as well as another 72 BODY BIKE SMART+ which we borrowed from clubs around the country,” says Sørensen.

sørensen ørbike event
Jesper Sørensen

A star is born

“For me, the key ingredient to running a successful event such as this is that you must really believe in what you’re doing. You must go for it 110 per cent,” Sørensen continues. “It involves a lot of hard work and a continual drive to make improvements and refinements every year to stay at the top of your game.

“We won’t settle for anything other than the best when it comes to music, instructors,
set-up. People leave Ørbike on a real high, and it lasts for days.”

So, what does Sørensen look for in his Ørbike instructors – the 12 instructors needed for the 12 hours of performance? “For me, the key is the differences between the instructors: I need fun instructors, serious instructors, instructors who play different styles of music.”

Already on the road a lot as part of his day job – as a country sales manager for the cycling clothing brand Assos of Switzerland – Sørensen has the chance to pop in to health clubs and studios around the country. By participating in cycling classes wherever he goes, he effectively has the chance to ‘audition’ instructors to find the country’s best, who he can then invite to be involved in Ørbike.

He also believes Ørbike has space for both experienced and new instructors – what matters is your stage presence. “You can be the best instructor in your local centre, but not everyone has the presence to be on a big stage,” he explains. “I look for instructors who have experience from other events, but I also look for new names who I can help build up to become the new stars.”

And that’s possible because instructors are given free rein to bring their sessions to life at Ørbike, constrained only by their imagination. A great example comes from Sørensen himself, in his exciting session at this year’s event. Challenged by a friend who felt he only ever coached traditional cycling classes, Sørensen says: “I wanted to prove him wrong, so I delivered a circus-style session with ‘Circus JAS’ video footage up on the big screen and clowns cycling on the stage with me.

“I also invited a famous Danish violinist, Michella Høj, on-stage for the finale. I wanted to give it some real spice and for participants to get goosebumps.”

Social energiser

Participation at Ørbike can be as an individual or a group, with prices starting at €130 for a bike on the back row – you can then switch as many people in and out of the saddle as you choose throughout the 12 hours. Bikes in the front row cost €535 and are available only to businesses as part of a sponsorship package.

Bitten Kvist Jacobsen, a member at Struer Fitness, was one of the 1,500 participants at this year’s event. She comments: “Ørbike is very social. Every time I go, I make new friends. Everyone takes care of you – if you don’t know how to set up the bike, someone will help you – and everyone says ‘hi’.

“My friends at home aren’t really into indoor cycling – they don’t understand my ‘craziness’ about it – but at Ørbike I’m surrounded by people who share my interests and my passion. That’s why I love it. I also get new ideas that I can use in my own training at the gym. It’s invaluable workout inspiration.”

And that matters, because Jacobsen is a cycling aficionado, taking part in numerous indoor cycling classes every week. Why? For the feelgood buzz it gives her. “Every time I go to a cycling class, even when I’ve had a long working day, it feels good,” she explains. “This is ‘Bitten Time’. It improves my mood, making me happier. If I don’t get my exercise, my colleagues notice. They’ll say: ‘Bitten, you haven’t trained today!’”

So, does she not get tired after all those hours of cycling at Ørbike? “You can’t get to hour five without being a bit tired,” she acknowledges, “but the music gets your legs started. You sweat like crazy, but it’s pure joy and the music is so motivational.

“The instructors are fantastic too – so prepared. They get down off the stage and get us involved. I think my favourite session this year was probably hour number seven, instructed by Kim Lahn, because of the music and the energy – but I enjoyed every hour as a participant.”

Finally, the 1,499 other participants are another factor to take your mind off the pain. “At an event as big as Ørbike, there are so many people cheering you on,” says Jacobsen. “It’s such a great feeling. The spirit at the event really is so special.”

sørensen ørbike event denmarkHigh expectations

One of the instructors at Ørbike 2019 was Lene Lystrup from SATS Aalborg – an experienced instructor who was previously on the Ørbike stage three years ago, and who was delighted to be back. “For me as an instructor, it’s a really professional event,” she says. “The sound is great, the lighting is great. Everything is taken care of. All you have to do is perform.”

But perform the instructors must. “The expectations are high because all eyes are on you,” confirms Lystrup. “I do things quite differently from the way I instruct in a normal class. I use myself a bit more – I put myself out there to ensure I connect with everyone, and I really focus on telling everyone how great they are. They then give me love back and really get into the zone, and they end up buzzing and on a real high.”

Well known for her music, Lystrup spends around 100 hours preparing her programme for Ørbike. “Music is the key for me, but you have to use it in the right way to create a flow,” she says. “It’s a feeling I can’t really describe, but the feedback I get from participants is that mine are always happy, sing-along sessions.

“Figuring that people were more likely to start singing at an event than in a normal class, I therefore decided to go all-in and create a karaoke cycling session for this year’s Ørbike! I wanted everyone to come out thinking: ‘Wow, that was like a Friday night out with my friends.’”

Indeed, although participants benefit from the training at Ørbike, and instructors in the audience are there to pick up ideas, Lystrup feels the social aspect is even more important at events such as this: “I know some people will be training using the colour-coded effort zones on the BODY BIKES, but honestly – for me, the most important thing is that people are having a party.”

Lystrup also added a personal touch this year, taking her best friend on-stage to cycle next to her. “She’s lost 60lbs by cycling. It’s such a wonderful story, I was worried I was going to cry when she was with me on the stage,” says an emotional Lystrup.

When you consider all of this – the personal touches and the 100 hours of prep work – it’s clear Ørbike has a special place in Lystrup’s heart. “It does,” she agrees, “because five years ago, Jesper took a chance and believed in me, inviting me to get involved. There wouldn’t be an Ørbike without Jesper – he’s the one who sets the whole vibe.

“I also love that he and his team listen to the instructors and the participants. They take on-board all the feedback and make changes were needed. For example, this year we had 272 BODY BIKES. When everyone has the same bike, it makes the whole thing more professional.

“The feeling in the room is electric and you want to keep coming back for more. I can’t wait for next time.”

The Digme tour

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. The Tour de France is the most prestigious and possibly the most difficult bicycle race of the Grand Tours: 21 stages over 23 days, just two rest days, and covering around 3,500 km (2,200 miles). Each team has eight riders and the rider with the lowest cumulative finishing times is the leader of the race and wears the yellow jersey.

What’s slightly less well-known is that every year, thousands of amateurs test their overall fitness, cycling skills and nutritional strategy on one of the Tour mountain stages, a few days before the professionals come through. This event is called Etape du Tour and I’ve done two, in the Pyrenees and the Alps. My first Etape in 2005 was in the Pyrenees, where Col d’Aubisque was the main climb: 17km long, with the summit at 1,709m and a maximum gradient of 13.2 per cent. Training for this event taught me that cycling is all about numbers.

Part of the training for this personal challenge took place at Third Space Soho, where back-to-back cycling classes took place on a Friday evening. Although fun in 2005, I couldn’t measure the result as bikes didn’t have the technology and trackers were not common then. So, during the week, I had a real bike on a turbo trainer using the Billats method of speed, distance, heart rate and time in the hypoxic chamber set to 3,000m above sea level. Lactate training optimised my lactatethreshold, and over time the 4 x two-minute surges with rest intervals improved my mental toughness and my VO₂ max.

At this time, I also completed my indoor cycling certification at the London Central YMCA so I could start teaching, keen to encourage more ‘mature’ riders. I was also keen to get more from my indoor riding experience wherever I was riding, but the product was inconsistent. With Johnny G having devised Spinning in his garage back in 1989, in the process giving birth to the indoor cycling revolution, I therefore took every opportunity I could to ride with him at IHRSA, as well as on his promotional and educational tours.    

While the real tour was riding into paris, i was at digme doing back-to-back-to-back rides

digme tour de france event

Going back-to-back-to-back

Given this background of road racing and being hooked on cycling indoors, I was intrigued to read about the Tour de France-themed classes at Digme, the boutique cycling studios in London and Oxford. Digme’s Tour de France event had been running coterminous with the real Tour (see ‘Digme – United in Fitness’ briefing box) and I had the opportunity to join some special riders on the final Sunday at Digme Fitzrovia.

Of course, indoor cycling classes have taken the boutique and general fitness market by storm; the talent for developing new cycle concepts seems never-ending, while over a third of private clubs – and slightly higher across the public sector sites – have dedicated cycle studios.

But what stood out in advance was the length of Digme’s ‘Perform Plus’ Tour de France event. On timetables across the sector, the most popular indoor cycling class is 45 minutes, followed by an hour. Very occasionally, programming provides the opportunity to do back-to-back for 90 minutes – but three 45-minute classes back-to-back-to-back, which was what lay in store at Digme… that will be out of most comfort zones and was a first for me. With instructor change-overs and water refills, that’s around 140 minutes in the saddle.

And so it was that, while the real Tour was riding into Paris, I was at Digme being pushed by Paul, Laura and Gareth – the instructors who shared the load through the back-to-back-to-back rides. Gareth built the final session into a crescendo of profiles which burnt the calories – over 1,500 in total – and gave me ‘des souvenirs’ of the lactate training programme. Gareth and I also had in common riding with Johnny G in the late 90s.

david minton tour de france digme eventNumbers vs experience

Digme uses Keiser M3i bikes and Spivi screens, which allows for live data to be transmitted from the bike via Bluetooth and displayed to all in the class. This in turn allows for accurate power-based training, whereby each rider in the class can ride to his or her own level based on FTP (Functional Threshold Power). It’s a great way to ensure every rider is pushed equally, whatever their power output, as well as to track progress.

Interestingly, INEOS – the sole owners of the British professional cycling Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky), whose riders came first and second in the 2019 Tour – uses the same bike-data-screen combination at its offices and plant in the UK and Europe as part of its corporate wellness offering… where classes are run by Digme’s Gareth. All the elements were in place for a great event.

However, if I might offer some constructive criticism – and appreciating this is just one person’s view – I felt the heavy focus on data rather overwhelmed the class. Of course, the regulars were aficionados of Perform Plus, which is Digme’s data-centric, performance-based class; I may well be a lone voice here! But even though the Etape du Tour taught me that training is about numbers, when it comes to classes such as this, I come from the school of enjoying the moment.

In contrast, I felt that those around me were so focused on the on-screen data that there was no scope to simply enjoy the ride. And while that might be fine in a normal class, when you’re trying to create a special Tour de France vibe… well, perhaps there might have been scope to do something different with the screen, such as showing Tour de France footage? As someone who has ridden sections of the Tour de France, I would have loved to have been challenged to climb one of the legendary climbs, adjusting my gears to match the incline on the screen in front of me. 

As it was, I felt the focus was a little too heavily on data, with not enough to really tie me to the Tour de France itself.

french flag tour de france digme eventOpen your mind

But all that is detail, and as I say just one person’s perspective, and should not take away from what was a very enjoyable event. It was also a thought-provoking one: when I told people I was doing three back-to-back classes, eyebrows were raised, but actually why not? Why not even do four? If you think about it, just one of the big climbs will take you an hour on the road. By comparison, a 45-minute class with just bits of climbing is nothing. Digme therefore has to be praised for this – for opening people’s minds to the possibility.

And Digme delivers all of this in a very achievable way. The Tour de France event wasn’t one long class – it was three separate, back-to-back classes with different instructors, each with their own style. Why shouldn’t other clubs and studios structure their timetables so there are three or four classes in a row, allowing members to do multiple consecutive classes if they wish?

why shouldn’t other clubs or studios run three or four classes in a row, and tie it all around a theme?

And absolutely, why not tie it all around a theme? There are plenty of other fantastic Grand Tour events to link to; Digme already runs themed classes around events such as the Giro d’Italia. Food for thought for other operators out there.

So, my main take away is this: let’s have more back-to-back programming, and back-to-back-to-back classes at weekends please. Great fun, and thanks for the ride Digme.

geoff bamber digmeDigme: united in fitness

Geoff, please set the scene: what is Digme all about?

Digme offers a diverse range of world-class, authentic indoor cycling and HIIT classes in an inclusive, community-focused environment – one where you can track and measure your workout.

We’re there to help people make a positive change: to be healthier, happier and to achieve their best self. We encourage customers to set their sights high, achieve more than they ever expected and leave feeling exhilarated and in the best shape of their lives.

Whether you want to get lost in the music and ride to the rhythm, track your fitness using data, or experience an exhilarating HIIT class, we have something for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-timer or a fitness fanatic: we represent fun, accessible fitness where you’ll dig deep to achieve your goals.

What was the idea behind your recent Tour de France event?

Digme has a really motivated, inclusive community and we love bringing that community together – especially for a workout! 

each week, our members tackled a different stage of the tour de france

We have some very talented riders who join us for Perform Plus classes – our data-centric, performance-based cycling sessions – week in, week out. We knew they would love to be involved in a series of themed classes based on the Tour de France, taking their workouts to a whole new level. 

What did the event involve?

We ran Ride the Tour sessions workouts in our Perform Plus classes throughout July, culminating in a special Tour de France event at our Rathbone Square studio on Sunday 28 July. All sessions were designed by our world-class Perform Plus instructors Paul, Laura and Gareth – themselves impressive cyclists, triathletes and Ironman finishers. 

Each week, members tackled a different stage of the Tour de France, with time trials, epic climbs, sprints and challenges to mirror stages of the tour. Stage one – Pau – was an individual time trial. Stage two – Saint Jean-de-Maurienne to Tignes – was short but intense, with lots of climbs. And stage three – Embrun to Valloire – included a trio of classic Tour de France climbs: Col d’Izoard, Col du Galibier and Col de Vars.

There were lots of prizes up for grabs, including jerseys for the furthest distance travelled across the three stages; the most sprint points gained; the highest average watts per kilo on the challenges; and the best young rider (under 25 years). There were also team awards – the furthest combined distance travelled for male, female and mixed teams – and an award for the gutsiest effort during each class. There were also spot prizes of much-coveted yellow socks up for grabs – for best effort made, someone’s first class, and so on. 

Finally, our 28 July event celebrated the end of the Tour de France with a specially curated 140-minute class. This was followed by a post-workout French-themed party, a Ride the Tour awards ceremony and a screening of the Tour de France finale.

Do you organise events on a regular basis?

On the first Thursday of every month, we run Climb n Cleats in our Moorgate, Richmond and Oxford studios – a 60-minute Perform class themed around a different legendary climb from around the world each month. 

We also run themed classes for the major tours, such as the Giro d’Italia.

What is the value to the business of events such as this?

Bringing the Digme family together to train is what makes Digme so special, and events are fantastic tools to do this. Diggers are brilliant at bringing fun, energy and enthusiasm to push themselves to new highs.

Digme Fitness currently operates five studios in the UK, with four in London – Rathbone Square, Moorgate, Blackfriars and Richmond – and one in Oxford.



10-12 hour Indoor bike events with 300 bikes and a new presenter each hour is discipline of its own within indoor cycling. Not to be compared with a normal 1-hour workout class in the local gym at all.

With up to 300 bikes on the floor and 1200 riders, most teams being 4 persons to keep the bike in motion, but still some are doing all hours on their own. It takes endurance and stamina to ride such hours and you don’t want to burn it all out within the first few hours.

On stage the instructors on the other hand, only ride 1 hour. Giving it their best performance without leaving the crowd exhausted and bored – energized and still wanting more. Keeping the crowd motivated and all bikes in motion till the very end, takes a different approach than a single 1-hour workout class. Presenters often take alternative methods in use. DJ on stage, Live dancers, live singers, live music performance, special themes, music, video, Pyrotechnics, fireworks – you name it!

indoor event



Les Mills LIVE – Singapore 2019

Regarded by many as the ultimate fitness festival for the region, we combine the best of entertainment and exercise in what we call “exertainment” with the best of stage setup, lighting and sound carefully coordinated with each program track, elevating the offerings of our presenters and the experience of all participants. This will also be exemplified through our program THE TRIP, which takes cycling to a new frontier of motivating and immersive fitness experiences.

Over the last few decades, Les Mills International CEO Phillip Mills has seen huge change in what drives club members and keeps them motivated. In this video, using exercise bikes as an example, he explores how the evolution of technology has helped create a more motivating environment for exercise that helps members achieve more.

Imagine being among over a thousand people, energized by the music, moving full-out to the hypnotic rhythm

We started running Les Mills Live for the first time in Singapore in 2018 and we saw the benefits and potential that it offers to various facets of the business, especially in Southeast Asia which is currently experiencing rapid growth in terms of fitness awareness and gym/club membership adoption. That’s why we decided to bring it back to Singapore for 2019 as it is a strategic point for the various countries in our market to congregate, as well as a popular international hub for other countries. This is possibly why our 2019 event has already attracted fitness fans from as far as US, UK, France and we anticipate that there will be more people from other countries joining us. We’re expecting many international instructors and fitness leaders from emerging and established markets alike to take this opportunity to network while enjoying themselves.

From a participant number of over 1,300 people in 2018, and the rave reviews received, we are not surprised that ticket sales for our 2019 event is already close to that figure at this early bird ticketing stage, and we anticipate to be playing host to over 2,500 participants in 2019!

Imagine being among over a thousand people, energized by the music, moving full-out to the hypnotic rhythm and beats as they are led by our program directors or their ‘fitness heroes’ who are the designers and first teachers of the various Les Mills program tracks and are pretty much synonymous with them.

les mills cycle sprint
The classes will be delivered by a team of hand-picked presenters

This event is not just about ‘doing exercise’ or working out in a group, but it’s about experience, connection, challenge, community and performance. Our goal is that each and every one who attends, leaves inspired and with tools and insights that they can harness and build upon even long after the event ends.

We are excited about the impact that we will be making in each participant’s life through this epic event.

Friday night bikes

For the first time in Singapore: FRIDAY NIGHT BIKES powered by BODY BIKE® makes its debut. The 4-hour cycle-a-thon features popular Les Mills cycle programs RPM, SPRINT and new to market THE TRIP. THE TRIP is an immersive cycle experience where riders are lead through fantastical worlds on big screens. The classes will be delivered by a team of hand-picked presenters from Australia, Southeast Asia and THE MAN himself Glen Ostergaard – the Program Director of both RPM and SPRINT.

Ophelia from Australia is making the trek to Singapore especially for Friday Night Bikes “I’m expecting on the Friday night a whole lot of crazy cycle obsession!”, “We are quietly confident there will be a whole-lotta-obsession as at the time of writing most of the cycling sessions have sold out.”

Amanda Breen, Les Mills RPM Presenter says: “I can’t wait to ride with 150 people who love indoor cycling – the energy will be insane!”, “The fact that we are featuring our 3 cycle programs makes the event even more special, I’m so excited!”


Les Mills Asia Pacific (LMAP) was founded when Bill Robertson, then owner of Deakin Health Spa in Canberra, Australia (now Fitness First) mused the decline in aerobics classes. In search of answers Bill travelled to Auckland New Zealand to investigate a new concept in aerobics: PUMP.

Bill Robertson
Bill Robertson

Immediately he liked what he saw: enmasse members participating in a weights class to music – revolutionary in so many ways: females participating in resistance training, males participating in aerobics and barbells and weight-plates occupying real-estate on the studio floor. Today we would think nothing of this concept – but in the 90s, females and weight-training were atypical, males certainly didn’t participate in aerobics and weights were confined to the gym floor. However, Bill was immediately hooked and recognized the potential in the concept for his facility back home. And right he was: PUMP was a success. Members flocked back to the aerobics studio no thanks to this pre-choreographed-weights-to-music class. This gamble on a single program, in a single facility in Canberra has 2-decades later expanded in to 15 programs (including RPM and BODYBALANCE) across 1,000 facilities in Australia and Southeast Asia. Facilitating these classes across the Asia Pacific region is close to 10,000 Les Mills trained Instructors.

Les Mills mission 

Les Mills’ mission is to create a fitter planet, and we do this by helping clubs build healthier businesses by making more people love their clubs. Our programs help them achieve this through better member acquisition and retention as studies show that club members who join group fitness classes are 4 times more likely to attend their facility. Statistics also show that members that attend their facility twice/week remain a member between 2-5 years. As instructors play a key part in enabling this to happen by delivering our programs, we also focus on growing our instructors so that they become the greatest instructors (and human beings) they can be. LMAP countries Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Guam, Brunei, Maldives, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Laos


ØRBIKE – a dream coming true

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.”

  • 1
  • 2

Conceived, powered and funded by BODY BIKE®, RIDE HIGH has a simple mission: to celebrate and champion the very best of indoor cycling, sharing ideas, stories and experiences from around the world to inspire the sector on to even bigger and better things. Subscribe for free by leaving your details below and we'll send indoor cycling's hottest news direct to your inbox three times a year.

Subscribe for free