Pearl Izumi Champion Team Member

Last year I applied for, and was accepted into, the Pearl Izumi Champion Team for 2017.

It's reportedly an ambassadorial programme in which a team of cyclists of diverse ability are invited to represent the brand and in return are given a small about of limited edition kit.

It's not a sponsorship deal like a winning racer might attract.  The common link between the fifty or so chosen is that they're active on social media.  You can find us by looking for the #PIChampion hashtag.

The Colorado based business has previously run similar programmes in the USA.
I had mixed feeling about accepting their invitation.  On the one hand I was curious as to how this initiative world work.  Is it focused entirely towards marketing or, as I hope, is there a greater corporate social responsibility angle?  I hope so because I'm keen to encourage more people to cycle and exercise.

However, I felt uncomfortable 'championing' a product about which I knew little.  In my application I explained that the only Pearl Izumi items I had were some mitts (superb) and a good waterproof jacket.

A journalist for 35 years, I didn't want anyone telling me what to say or write.  I'm assured I won't have to sign anything restricting my ability to write about the products or the scheme.

So anything I write here will be my honest opinion.

We will be expected to generate a certain amount of monthly content, more details to come.

There's a big get-together of the 'Champion Team' this coming weekend.  It will be held in the cycling mecca of... Milton Keynes.

Yeah OK, but that's where PI's UK distributor Madison is based, the UK's largest action sports distributor.  So we're all heading to their headquarters.

This isn't the first time I've worked closely with brands.  I've worked with Patagonia, Berghaus, Smart Wool, GoLite and others in the outdoor industry.  More recently, I worked with Science In Sport when they ran a Winter Academy.

The title 'Champion Team' makes me wince slightly - I'm not a champion anything!   And it is absolutely not about blagging free kit.  It's about sharing a love of a sport and learning stuff.  For example, with the Science in Sport connection I learnt a phenomenal amount about nutrition,  much of it from Dr James Morton who I believe is now head of nutrition at Team Sky.

On the basis that you never know where these things lead, I'll be heading to Milton Keynes and the  Pearl Izumi Champion Team for Saturday.  I will, of course, continue to share what I learn.

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