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Utah Business

Forget the golf course—Utah business leaders are pedaling up the corporate ladder.

Modern-day networking happens on a mountain bike

This story appears in the March issue of Utah Business. Subscribe here

Modern-day networking happens in the mountains. Grab a bike and get going.

For some, the mention of networking triggers images of stuffy conference halls and overpriced cocktails or the monotonous “ting” of golf balls interspersed with financial jargon. While networking in these settings has worked for a long time and still does for many, a new pastime has emerged, shredding a path through Utah’s Silicon Slopes. Once a leisurely escape, mountain biking is rapidly gaining traction as a formidable networking tool, offering professionals from all walks of life a chance to engage in conversation while communing with nature.

The sport’s ascent to popularity was fueled by a collective escape to the outdoors in 2020, leading to a spike in sales at REI and nearly 9 million Americans taking their bikes off-road in 2022. With more than 6,036 trails and major events like Red Bull Rampage—dubbed the “Super Bowl of Mountain Biking,” Utah has solidified its reputation as a major mountain biking hub.

Furthermore, according to Dallen Atack, board president of the Utah High School Cycling League, which is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, Utah boasts the country’s largest high school mountain bike league.

“We had 7,300 student-athletes and just under 4,000 coaches last year alone, surpassing traditional high school sports like basketball, volleyball and golf,” Atack says. “Since we started more than a decade ago, many of our riders have finished college and are a large part of the workforce, not to mention all the coaches who already are.”

With so many people who love to ride, it is no surprise that people are connecting over the sport they love at the office and hitting the trails.

“In nearly every business interaction I have, there’s a connection to be found on a biking level,” says Landon Boogaard, VP of sales at JourneyTEAM. “It’s become a natural part of conversations—even more prevalent than golf.”

Forget the golf course—Utah business leaders are pedaling up the corporate ladder.
Isaac Miller bikes at Solitude Mountain Resort. | Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News

As the founder of the MTB Enthusiasts of Utah Facebook page, Boogaard decided to start hosting some group mountain biking networking rides where everyone was welcome regardless of ability. 

“At our initial mountain biking event, we had 17 attendees from different business roles—from CEOs and CFOs to developers and entry-level personnel—a testament to the sport’s wide appeal across the professional spectrum,” Boogaard says.

In fact, Boogaard credits these mountain biking network events with helping him attract top talent. 

“I met one of my best employees at one of these events. We talked and exchanged information. … I saw potential,” he says. “Shortly after, he joined my team, and for three years straight, he’s been the top-performing sales rep, shattering company records. But his impact goes beyond sales; he’s the heart of our company culture, well-loved by everyone.”

Boogaard also notes that mountain biking offers a unique form of connection that you don’t get with traditional networking activities. “It’s about the effort and the shared experience that bonds people in a way, unlike any other networking opportunity.​”

Professionals like Matt McKinney, president of Hard Hat Home Inspections and Salt Lake Thermography, have found unique ways to blend their passion for mountain biking with business development by forging unique connections on the trails. “The shared experience—especially the collective triumph of a challenging ride—creates a bond that goes beyond typical business interactions,” McKinney explains.

“It’s about the effort and the shared experience that bonds people in a way, unlike any other networking opportunity. ”

“These rides are more than just a physical activity; they’re a catalyst for conversation and connection,” McKinney says. “On the trails, we’re equals, tackling the same obstacles, feeling the same rush of endorphins. In these moments, barriers come down and real connections are forged.”

Boogaard also emphasizes the unparalleled sense of community and accomplishment that mountain biking fosters, a sentiment echoed in the euphoric highs and camaraderie experienced on Utah’s trails. 

“It’s not just a sport; it’s a shared journey that forges deeper connections than the conventional networking mixers,” Boogaard reflects. “When you conquer trails together, you break more than just personal records. You break down barriers, building trust and collaboration that translates into the workplace.”

Mountain biking in Utah is more than a mere networking tool; it’s a metaphor for the professional journey. The challenges on the trails mirror the unpredictability of business, demanding the same balance, focus and adaptability. Killing it on the mountain or at the office requires teamwork, grit, resilience and the shared thrill of achievement. These aren’t abstract concepts in Utah’s business landscape—they’re part of the daily ride. 

Joshua Heath is a graduate of the University of Utah's Department of Communications, where he studied public relations and photojournalism. His photography has been featured in renowned publications such as the Deseret News magazine and The Los Angeles Times. Joshua is a skilled writer whose ghostwriting has supported organizations and businesses across the United States. Locally, he has contributed to Utah Business Magazine and Silicon Slopes Magazine.