Unique corporate days out at the Olympic Park – cycle around the velodrome, shoot the white water rapids and experience adrenaline-fueled Olympian sports.
Remember what it was like in London a couple of summers ago? The hype, the euphoria, the magic, the medals? Remember the Olympics? Well, you'd be forgiven for thinking of it as an isolated incident. A one-off. A mesmeric month, two years ago, consigned to the annals of time. A triumphant historic insight into the logistical and theatrical capabilities of this magnificent nation of ours.
A high profile statement of intent and a reminder that we are a world-class centre for large-scale event excellence. And, as signified in that awe-inspiring opening ceremony, a reminder that we basically invented everything that's fun in the world at one stage or another in our illustrious history and that, above all else, we can put on a show.
Well, with all that heritage in mind, it’s astonishing that we have to remind ourselves that there's a huge, sparkly and very impressive park left over in East London!
What’s more, brimming with infrastructure (on a massive scale), the Olympic Park has now matured. The lawns are green, the waterways are flowing and the trees have grown. The Olympic village boasts gleaming towers of luxury apartments, shops and the gigantic Westfield Centre looming (with intent) at the perimeter. Giant causeways and multi-lane highways link the various areas in a similar way to those in the Magic Kingdom, connecting lands at Walt Disney World. From the Aquatics Centre to the Velodrome, the stunning Copperbox Arena to the Gargantuan Olympic Stadium itself, they're all there, glistening in the Summer sun, just screaming to be utilised.
The Olympic Park is an iconic place. An inspiring landscape in which your brand is instantly associated with the triumphs of the year British sport came of age.
A time in which the whole nation came together and felt great, a time in which the deep, deep recession receded to a point that it was momentarily a distant memory. It's also a beautiful place. Acres of immaculate parkland with immense facilities, which are all available - like the ultimate giant playground! Literally.
Corporate team-building at the Olympic Park
From a corporate team-building perspective, you just can't beat it. With Canary Wharf and the (increasingly) towering City as the sensational backdrop, we now have world class sporting facilities to use as we wish. This is a crucial part of the Legacy we've heard so much about, yet very few of us have actually put it to use!
From learning to dive (from the ten-metre board if you're ballsy enough) to learn to ride fast bikes with no brakes, it's amazing what you can do! What's even more amazing is what you can do it for. It doesn't cost the earth for your delegates to enjoy an out of this world experience. In fact, it's very affordable.
A day out at the Lee Valley VeloPark
Last week, I drove into the vast Olympic Park for the very first time. And it was amazing. Passing the now iconic and uber-abstract ArcelorMittal Orbit which makes an enticing entrance even more...erm...enticing (you can hire the event space at the top for lunch or dinner which we thoroughly recommend if you're utilising another part of the park to enhance the experience further) you soon find yourself lost in another world.
And when I say lost, I mean lost. Signage is suitably sparse and you are forced to navigate by iconic landmark after iconic sporting landmark, all of which are visible from all access roads. If there's a wrong turn, I'm going to find it and after a couple of swears and a highly illegal U-turn on the slip road to the M11 (once you're on that there's no coming back) I found my way effortlessly to the weirdest looking building you're ever going to encounter - the Olympic Velodrome. From the outside, this building looks like an architectural masterpiece. And then you go inside and your tiny little lycra cycling shorts are literally blown off! (*Lycra shorts are optional).
The velodrome (now known as the Lee Valley VeloPark) is a huge arena and therefore an equally huge event space. In the centre of the track, an exhibition would sit perfectly, for example, yet nobody has attempted it yet. Think about it though. Plenty of parking, great transport links, lots of local accommodation (although most of the Olympic village is now privately owned flats) and an iconic, unique venue that your delegates almost certainly won’t have visited before, associated with success and intrigue. Plus, it's far closer to Central London than you might think. Ride the North Greenwich cable car and you'll see how close it really is!
However, the simplest thing to do in the Olympic Park is use the facilities for what they were made for. And anyone really can, despite not being an Olympian. You don’t even have to be good at sports. The Velodrome track day has to be one of the most accessible and exciting opportunities of all. One look at that 43-degree bank (which looks more like the 'wall of death' than a banked corner) makes you think otherwise, but it's surprisingly easy when you have a go!
It turns out you don't need that much speed or momentum to get round it. What's more, the coaching you receive beforehand is world class as well as brimming with comedy (just to put everyone's mind at ease). Whilst explaining the all-important pedaling aspect - you can't ‘coast’ (ie. stop pedalling) because the pedals are fixed to the wheel - our instructor refers to 'feedback' and illustrates this by explaining "If you try to coast, the bike will fight back and you’ll get ‘feedback’ - in the same way that if I stop working I'll get ‘feedback’ from my wife! And we don’t want ‘feedback’, do we people?!".
Even if you've never ridden a bike before, you'll be tearing around the track within about 20 minutes. All the safety gear and instruction you could ever need is provided as well as an amazingly lightweight bike, of course. With one gear. And no brakes. Just watch that feedback...
Riding the track
Following several laps of gentle, gradual instruction during which you are encouraged to climb higher and higher up the armco, the afternoon culminates with a time trial. Basically, this is where you get to unleash your corporate competitive side and race against the clock (as well as your colleagues). With your name and time displayed on the giant electronic scoreboards! It's thrilling. What's more, the thousands of spectator seats are open to the public so you can count on there being a least a few enthusiastic spectators cheering you on! You even get the bell ringing when you approach your timed lap (at speed, following a warm-up lap) to really get you in the mood. For a fleeting moment you feel the (desperate) need, the need for speed...!
After what has to be one of the most awe-inspiring corporate team-building experiences of all time, there is, of course, a prize giving ceremony in the centre of the track with a podium. And champagne. I was satisfied with my third place on the day (out of about twenty riders) and am now determined to improve my flying lap time of 17.93 seconds to somewhere a little closer to Sir Chris Hoy's 12 seconds which, once you've busted every sinew of every fibre in your body to charge round this magnificent arena, is simply not possible for anyone with normal sized lungs. Or normal sized thighs. It puts into perspective how these athletes really are on the verge of super-human ability.
As we left, a group of corporates from Aviva took to the track, all in yellow branded cycling gear and it looked cool. So, for an experience, your guests and delegates will simply never forget, and a photo/video opportunity which will do the rounds on all the social media channels for a very long time, try a cycling experience in the Olympic Velodrome - you simply can't beat it! Or Sir Chris, for that matter!
Book now for fantastic Olympic Park experiences:
- Ride the Lee Valley VeloPark
Get on the Olympic track and see how you'd perform against Sir Chris Hoy (and Will Broome, CEO of Londonlaunch.com).
Book your cycling experience with Cavendish Events & Hospitality:
- White Water Rafting
Are you up for a challenge? Book the Olympic white water rafting route for an unforgettable experience.
NB The white water rafting route is called the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Book your white water rafting experience with Cavendish Events & Hospitality:
Plus Olympic diving at the Aquatics Centre directly for further information.
A unique London venue. An emblem of the London 2012 Olympic Games combined with stunning views creates the perfect venue location.
1. Bespoke hospitality
For bespoke hospitality and unique team-building experiences, contact
Emma Jane (EJ) is a former Olympic Equestrian Star!
2. IMG Events is a global corporate hospitality provider and the leading hospitality event agency in the UK.
3. Blenheim Palace plays host to the International Horse Trials.
4. Fantastic sporting fun at West Wycombe Park including:
Clay pigeon shooting, off-road driving, archery, Segways, rage buggies, zorbing and laser quest.
5.Corporate hospitality from Keith Prowse.
So, all things considered, it might just be time for you to get on yer bike! After all, it's unique, it's healthy, it's topical and, most of all, it's fast Fun!