Cy­cle with Care

Martin Reimann, re­gional man­ag­ing direc­tor at Edring­ton, is the driv­ing force be­hind an an­nual cy­cling trip that raises money for lo­cal char­i­ties across Asia. He talks to Richard Lord about his love of the sport, the need to sup­port grass­roots ini­tia­tives

Hong Kong Tatler - - Tatler Focus -

when Martin Reimann de­cided in 2014 that he needed to get fit, it had a few un­in­tended con­se­quences. One man’s health drive, in fact, has re­sulted in a mas­sive char­ity en­deav­our in­volv­ing multi-day cy­cle rides that has to date spanned three years, in­volved hun­dreds of peo­ple and raised mil­lions of dol­lars.

Reimann is the Asia Pa­cific and In­dia re­gional man­ag­ing direc­tor for Edring­ton, the Scot­tish com­pany be­hind a range of spir­its brands in­clud­ing iconic Scotch whiskies such as The Ma­callan, The Fa­mous Grouse, Cutty Sark and High­land Park. Since the 19th cen­tury the com­pany has been owned by the Robert­son fam­ily. In the 1960s the three Robert­son sis­ters, all of them with­out heirs, de­cided to place con­trol of the com­pany in the hands of the new Robert­son Trust. The fam­ily had long been com­mit­ted to a range of phil­an­thropic ac­tiv­i­ties, many of them anony­mous, and the sis­ters wanted to en­sure that it con­tin­ued to do so.

As well as com­pany-wide pro­grammes, Edring­ton also en­cour­ages its staff to come up with char­i­ta­ble ini­tia­tives of their own. The lat­est of them had its ge­n­e­sis when Reimann, a for­mer Bri­tish Royal Ma­rine com­mando and po­lice of­fi­cer who has worked for the com­pany since 2002, set out to change his life­style.

“It was part of a per­sonal jour­ney for me,” he says. “I’d been an avid cy­clist as a child. I was liv­ing in Sin­ga­pore, and when I got back on a bike it was a love af­fair—i just fell in love with it. There’s a sense of free­dom, you can go at your own pace, and there’s a cer­tain elegance to it.”

Then, in 2015, “I de­cided to cy­cle from Kuala Lumpur to Sin­ga­pore. I shared my am­bi­tion in the of­fice, and peo­ple said ‘I’ll do it too,’ so we de­cided to do it for char­ity.”

In the end 18 peo­ple took part in the 400km, three-day ride, rais­ing SG$60,000 (HK$338,000) for Sin­ga­pore char­ity Child at Street 11, which sup­ports chil­dren from un­der­priv­i­leged back­grounds. One par­tic­i­pant, an em­ployee’s hus­band who works as an air­line pi­lot, flew into Sin­ga­pore on work and im­me­di­ately took an­other flight to Kuala Lumpur so he could par­tic­i­pate— with zero train­ing and se­vere jet lag!

“We were stag­gered and taken aback by how much we en­joyed it—not just the cy­cling, but com­ing to­gether as a group,” says Reimann. “It’s non-hi­er­ar­chi­cal: no mat­ter what level you are in the or­gan­i­sa­tion, we’re all the same on a bike. You don’t re­alise how sore you’re go­ing to be, or how phys­i­cally tir­ing it is. All th­ese hard­core liquorindus­try peo­ple are in bed by 8.30pm! And you eat the world. Every evening af­ter we fin­ish rid­ing, all any­one is in­ter­ested in is what we’re go­ing to have for din­ner.”

The team en­joyed it so much, in fact, that they de­cided to do it again the fol­low­ing year. This time 65 rid­ers took part in a 500km trip down Tai­wan’s west coast from Taipei to Kaoh­si­ung, rais­ing NT$5 mil­lion (HK$1.3 mil­lion) for the Kaoh­si­ung Autism Foun­da­tion. Af­ter­wards Reimann and eight other rid­ers even re­turned to Taipei via the far more

chal­leng­ing, but also more scenic, east coast.

This year’s ride prom­ises to be the most chal­leng­ing yet. From Novem­ber 14 to 17, about 50 rid­ers will at­tempt a four-day, 600km trip from Siem Reap to Si­hanoukville via Ph­nom Penh. They will in­clude global CEO Ian Curle (“not a bad cy­clist,” ac­cord­ing to Reimann), plus Edring­ton staff from all over Asia, in ad­di­tion to coun­tries as di­verse as the US, Ger­many, Rus­sia and the Do­mini­can Repub­lic. They hope to raise at least US$100,000 for char­ity M’lop Ta­pang, which works with vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and their fam­i­lies in Si­hanoukville. Be­cause the com­pany doesn’t have staff in Cam­bo­dia, Reimann went and tested the route him­self. His verdict? “It was bru­tal.” How­ever, he did it in April, when tem­per­a­tures hov­ered around 38 de­grees—he’s been re­as­sured that con­di­tions will be much bet­ter in the fall.

To plan the rides, the com­pany works back­wards from the char­ity, find­ing a wor­thy cause to sup­port and then plot­ting a rel­e­vant route. “We’re quite good at mak­ing money; giv­ing it away is much harder,” says Reimann. “It’s quite an emo­tional thing for us. It has to be some­thing we re­ally feel, and some­thing that brings us to­gether. It has to come from the grass roots; that’s where you get the big­gest buzz.

“It gen­er­ates its own mo­men­tum. At the end of every ride, be­cause of that con­nected feel­ing, even de­spite all the pain, the big­gest ques­tion ev­ery­one asks is: ‘Where are we go­ing to go next year?’”

a ral­ly­ing call Martin Reimann, re­gional man­ag­ing direc­tor for Asia Pa­cific & In­dia (left), picked up cy­cling as a hobby, which led to the idea of or­gan­is­ing cy­cling trips to raise money for char­i­ties. The ini­tia­tive is open to Edring­ton em­ploy­ees from around the world

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