Lillebælt – by bike to France


A bike is a good alternative to the car for getting around, particularly in the summer. Whether you choose it to get more daily exercise or to help protect the environment. And if you can also help a good cause, how could you possibly say no? ista regional manager Benny Mathiesen from Denmark definitely couldn’t. As part of the Danish project “Team Best of Lillebælt”, he cycled from Denmark to France – 1.300 km in seven days – to raise money for child and youth institutions.

ista regional manager Benny Mathiesen
ista regional manager Benny Mathiesen (r.) and his long-standing customer Henrik Bloch are cycling for the good cause.

Benny often used to be seen on the football pitch. But as so often happens, sooner or later with a family and a job there was not much time left for sport. And perhaps nothing would have changed if his long-standing customer Henrik Bloch, project manager at the plumbing company Pilegaard-Henriksen, hadn’t told him that he had taken part in the cycling event “Team Best of Lillebælt” last year. The idea of cycling from Denmark to Paris to raise money for a good cause appealed so much to Benny Mathiesen that he quickly bought a second-hand bike and from then on took every opportunity to get pedalling. Benny Mathiesen and Henrik Bloch trained together indoors in a spinning class for about six months before also spending the last half-year outdoors preparing for the event. However exhausting their training was, both never lost sight of their goal: to be part of Team Best of Lillebælt.

Team Best of Lillebælt: more than just a sporting event

Team ista Lillebaelt
Team ista and Pilegaard-Henriksen.

Team Best of Lillebælt is a cycling-business network that has been organising the eponymous cycling event in Denmark for two years now to support regional children’s and youth charities. A team of volunteers, cycling enthusiasts or simply dedicated people who are sponsored by various companies cycle the 1,300 km stretch from Frederica to Paris in just one week. That is 150 to 170 km a day. This year 15 employees from different companies including Mathiesen and Bloch came together to battle through the event’s eight stages from June 14 to 21.


Good endurance training is all you need in preparation, isn’t it?

“With all those kilometres to cover in a day, targeted training is a must. However, physical fitness alone is not the key to success,” says 52-year-old Mathiesen. “Preparing mentally for this challenge is every bit as important.” Did he ever have a low point during the tour and want to give up? The answer to this question comes without hesitation: “no.” As soon as the starting gun sounded, he had his goal firmly in his sights: to collect money for children and young people in need. Although one or the other of the team had some problems, they all supported each other and so they managed to donate € 7,500 to a children’s charity in Frederica. “Naturally some team members went through rough stretches but then it was important to encourage each other and keep going. Such experiences teach you a lot and are easy to transfer to working life.” Mathiesen explains. The crowning finish of the event “Team best of Lillebælt“: the stretch along the Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde followed by celebrations in Paris. For Mathiesen, the fact that he also lost 10 kg in weight is hardly worth mentioning.

An extraordinary customer relationship

1.400 km by bike from Frederica to Paris. That is up to 170 km a day.

Both on a private and on a professional level: in the end the sporting event was a win-win situation for everybody. Such an event cements relationships, strengthens the network and allows friendships to grow. Cycling enthusiast Henrik Bloch has been working together with Benny for three years. His plumbing company has been a customer of ista for four years. “We already had a good relationship with ista,” says Henrik Bloch, “but the cycling event has strengthened it even more. Now we want to go one better and in future tackle a quarter triathlon together. After all, practice makes perfect, doesn’t it?” he grins.

The team did it and arrived at the Champs-Élysées.