What makes being a part of a team so great and why shouldn’t a person just race as an independent? I hadn’t really given it much thought before – but a couple months ago I was given clarity.
It came in form of the encouragement and excitement that my teammates gave me just for showing up to a race and trying really hard. That’s it! I wasn’t first or even on the podium. I wasn’t ‘in it to win it’, just to check out a new race venue and experience something new. I didn’t have any expectations as I was going outside of my comfort zone; but the positive response from my team was overwhelming!
That’s when it hit me…
I am a part of something wonderful! It’s not about winning every time or even being at every race (wouldn’t that be nice). However, a person is much more likely to try really hard and do their best if they have encouragement from a support group. In the case of competitive cycling: that certainly means the support of a great team. After all the positive feedback from my race report I felt elated that I had driven several hours to try really hard and learn a lot about a new race venue!
Long, Long Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…
I first started racing … just kidding it wasn’t that long ago, or that dramatic. At the time I thought it was rather dramatic (and potentially insane), but I had encouragement to compete from my ride buddies who were on a team. So: with a little convincing I joined the same race team, bought my license, and tried my first race. I had NO IDEA what I was doing, but they helped me and gave me guidance. Point is: I would never have competed without encouragement from my new fellow teammates.
I think this is why being a part of something bigger than just you makes such a difference. Yes, there are team tactics and strategy if you have enough competitors. For me, the most important element is the support you get for being a part of the team. A former teammate of mine and now coach, Kevin Franklin, said to me one day after a non-stellar performance (and I paraphrase from potentially bad memory): “You are already a winner inside because you have the courage to show up, pin a number on, and the determination to finish”.
Being a mentor for a women’s development race team has given me a new appreciation for the impact that the combined support and encouragement has on individuals. When someone is down: we lift them up. When someone is scared or worried: we support them. When someone tries hard: we celebrate them! Team dynamics make throwing yourself out there into a place where you might be a little uncomfortable, a little scared and uncertain – a great place to be. There is nothing quite like the bonding experience individuals gain when they tackle new goals together.
I love that I am a part of something bigger than me.
I think it’s awesome that I can work for others on my team and loose myself in that. I find joy in supporting other women who are getting out there and trying really, really hard! I think your heart becomes bigger when you are a part of something that means more than just you working for yourself. You don’t have to be first, or best, or the fastest and your team is there for you because YOU TRIED REALLY HARD.