Solidarity

Time to dial things back….

While many of us are at the halfway point to a new weekend, I would like to do a little reflecting on this past weekend before it becomes irrelevant. As many of you who pay attention to the southern California race season, this past weekend kicked off the first road race on the calendar. As usual, the team caravaned up to Santa Barbara county to let the locals know that Los Angeles is here and isn’t pulling any punches. For those of you seeking a race report, I will try and make this quick and concise.

  • Pace was tame for the most part
  • Not a lot of teamwork was collectively conducted, thus resulted in the typical “every man for himself” style our category is known for
  • All breakaway attempts were chased down at an early stage
  • The final section before the finish was a large group of riders trying to squeeze past each other without jumping the center line
  • If you managed to lock in a good position at that time (I did not) you were going to do well, regardless of fitness

Much like the jitters that come from riding in a group at high speeds after enjoying group rides with more sparse numbers, I had to remind myself that this was going to be the norm for the upcoming season. It took some time for me to get my bearings in this what-was-once familiar environment. I made the decision to play it safe and refrain from mixing it up when things bunched up. The combination of the above mentioned emotions along with the fact that I currently am on a demo bike kept my in check from repeating a memorable crash that took place last year. As an added bonus, I had a few teammates of mine in the same racing category for both Saturday and Sunday’s race. If I could choose a theme for this past weekend, it would be solidarity.

I have mentioned in conversation many times that the presence of someone else who’s also flying your same flag makes a tremendous difference in race atmosphere and dynamics. To add to that chemistry, not only did we race together, we rendezvoused back to our friend’s house and continued the group interactions well after the bikes had been put away. Normally you see someone shortly before, and maybe during a race. Once all is said and done, people usually have their post-race routines and proceed to wrap things up in hopes to reacquaint in the near future. Not this weekend. I finally understand what a healthy team relationship can do for the overall nature of a team. Close bonds only make things better when the going gets tough and you find yourself holding back the tears from hitting those mental barriers one after another. This is a perfect example of actions taking place that I  have mentioned in regards to holding that unwritten standard of cycling etiquette when its time to test one’s might.

This new batch of racers seems like a closer knit community in one of the more friendlier aspects than others. Teamwork is becoming a bigger priority for emerging teams on the entry and more elite levels. More and more riders are stoked to have others there they get to ride with and work together alongside. As much as I dislike any overwhelming amount of affection (no matter from whom) I can’t help but feel more welcome to interact with more people now more than ever. One of my now friends mentioned in a joking fashion that we couldn’t make it to the registration tent without me being stopped by multiple people to stop and chat. While I did my best to take a humble approach to this statement (as it was entirely true) part of me longs for a day when I can let more of my guard down and let a little more love into my being. Unfortunately that is easier said than done for me. I’m not just going to go hugging my mom and significant other all willy nilly overnight.

My main point I am getting at is, teamwork is good. Team chemistry and solidarity only makes things better in large steps. We might not have swept the podium on either day of racing, but we are slowly coming to syncing our frames of mind to the same wavelength. And that’s just as good in my book. I guess this is the type of dynamic people who go to training camps long for. I’ve read a few books on cycling and have a basic understanding of the tight bonds that form from spending so much time in close proximity, and in times of stress and fatigue. We might not have an official training camp week/month, but that’s not to say we can’t form the same bond in a less formal setting. The collective interest in something we all feel so passionate about can bring about change in one’s mind and overall outlook on life. It can be a little nerve racking at first, but like and group project anyone has been assigned to, the forming of bonds is inevitable whether they be good or bad. I can say with confidence that these bonds are bringing many good vibes.

-dfj

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