Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 19 - Love your team

Cycling is a team sport. Maybe not in the traditional sense of basketball, football, baseball, etc., but your teammates can definitely have an outcome on your result, and you can definitely have an impact on the team’s results. Like the more traditional sports, you’ll probably spend a lot of time training with your teammates, so you want to make sure you actually like them. 

I’m blessed to be with a group of guys that I really like. Many of them are like family. I look forward to riding with them, traveling with them, and seeing them off the bike too. That’s how a team should be. If you don’t feel that way, I suggest you either make an attempt to integrate yourself more into the team, or you start searching for a new one. Cycling (at my level, at least) is all about having fun. I’m not collecting a paycheck for racing my bike, so I better be having a good time. Even on the weekends where our team has horrible finishes, or we made lots of mistakes, or we had awful weather, I’m still making awesome memories because of the group of guys I’m with. 

Our team is also pretty well rounded. We have some talented sprinters, some crafty/sly racers, some breakaway guys that can put down big watts, and general well rounded guys that can do a little of each. On paper we’ve got what it takes to win; we just need to learn to race better together. I still consider us a pretty young team. We haven’t all raced together very long. Each year we get better and better, but we still have a lot of room for improvement. It’s a good thing, really. It means that in 2015 we should have even better results that 2014, and 2014 was a good year. We proved last year that we can go toe-to-toe with any of the teams around here on our good days, but we also took some beatings on our bad days. There’s always going to be a balance point between good days and bad, but I think 2015 will have more of the former. 

It looks like a bunch of pro teams are doing their training camps now. I’ll admit, I'm slightly jealous of their team rides. First, because they are all in incredible places; but also because of the size. The rides just look so tidy and organized. It looks like a great environment for a team to really mesh and learn to communicate. We’ve been doing these big 50+ person rides, and I barely get to talk to my teammates. I don’t even realize that some guys are there until we’re 30+ miles into the ride. It’s fun getting to meet new people, and it’s great to see Oklahoma City cycling really come together. We’ve had riders from almost every Oklahoma team at our Saturday and/or Sunday rides. On one hand, it’s great. This is probably the most cohesive I’ve seen Oklahoma City cycling since I started riding. On the other hand, I know that it takes away from how tight our team is. Plus, your workout is diminished because after you peel off the front, it takes 30 minutes to get back up there again.  It’s a balancing act for sure. I want to see both flourish, but I’m a little bit at a loss on how to get there. Team rides at night during the week? Additional miles as a team before or after the ride Saturday and Sunday rides? The reality is, it’s really a 2016 problem now. Race season starts in 3 weeks, so the winter group rides are nearly coming to an end. The race schedule is pretty packed from February through June. 

Anyway, that wasn’t really the direction I planned on going here. I wanted to focus on really searching for a group of people that have common goals that you enjoy riding with. The majority of us do this for fun, so make sure you surround yourself with people that really make you feel good. Whether you prefer a 12 person, focused race team that trains together or a 50+ group of guys and girls that share your love of cycling; make sure you never lose site of how enjoyable cycling is. 

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