Dream Team: How Not to Lose Hope…yet
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Friday, October 9, 2009

Dream Team: How Not to Lose Hope…yet

by Beth Leasure at 5:37 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Training, Preparation, and Health, Tech News

Hope is about faith that comes alive when paired with realistic evidence. If caught without a contract at this late date, chances are reality is looking rather hopeless. Do not despair. Rumors are transversing the globe about who is going where and what spots are still open. Like falling leaves, names drop and are wafted about by the changing breezes of Autumn. Signs of the times indicate there’s still some time to reap a harvest from summer’s labors.

Whatever news is on the financial pages, cycling news is spiced with happy stories of next year’s endowments. These fat teams are still not fully rostered. Even some stars remain uncertain about what’s next.

These team spots are precious, and these teams do not exist because a rider wishes to race. These teams have many objectives - often commercial as well as performance ones - and must consider very carefully each precious opening in the roster. These teams do not exist to develop you. They exist to be enhanced by your development. Assess the current state of your development realistically.

Likewise, those who can pick and choose – just a handful worldwide – must carefully consider not just the bottom line but the starting line and who will be on it wearing your same jersey. This is a consideration causing considerable stir among no less than the very best stage racers in the world. Don’t be naïve about its importance as a consideration – at any level.

I live in a small community. Everyone knows everyone – and everyone else’s business. We have a saying in these parts, “We don’t just live in a fishbowl, we live in a water glass.” That’s how transparent our lives are to our neighbors. We may not know everyone, but we definitely know someone who knows them. More than likely, we know a lot about each other and have all sorts of interconnections. We accomplish a lot on a promise and a handshake. This is the bet that social networks hedge for success.

Cycling is a pretty small community as well. Our lives and actions are on display in every race. It’s not too hard to get the inside skinny on a rider from another team or across the country or in another part of the world. Do your due diligence about team prospects, team purpose, and teammates. Some believe any team is a good team if it keeps you in the game, and it’s true some are left with few choices when the pickings become fewer. But most riders can save themselves a world of trouble in the form of team conflict and unmet expectations just by comparing personal goals and values with team mission and culture. It helps to look at who is making the calls and what is driving them. It also helps to look at the external pressures upon the team and its key influencers. Study the dynamics of this year’s Tour de France for a case study on how that can work or not.

Time and again riders send resumes that just don’t fit the program. Be realistic. If a team is hiring every star espoir from each stellar cycling nation, you’d better be wearing a national team jersey with international results before you plan to approach them. Otherwise, search elsewhere. Secure a spot, get it early, and focus instead on what’s necessary to succeed in the more realistic environment. Utilize that level to make incremental gains so you can wear the jersey that secures the dream team in the future.

The upside of this discovery process is self-evaluation based on facts, reassessment based on faith, and renewal based on new possibilities. Securing something provides a foundation to focus on other challenged areas. Even if this move reveals a team’s policy or team personnel are imperfect, knowledge of these imperfections forces planning which in turn fosters persistence and fight – two necessary qualities for competitive greatness. Competitive greatness is at a premium on a dream team. So again, realistic procurement keeps you moving toward the dream.

Another benefit of securing a spot – a realistic one – comes from the cycling community itself. Because of our minimal degrees of separation, we have a sense of belonging. There may be no hiding past failures, but this forces more grace and a quicker forgiveness so that everyone will get along. It also gives a short life to a mean and self-serving quality known as pretense. You can live and race and train authentically. This brings great freedom in writing your own story.

A powerful document that tells your story and that summarizes your accomplishments and attributes in a few pages is a must. A race resume should have several features:

1. Results by ranking including placement and category of race:

Examples: 1st Category 1
  12th UCI 2.2


2. Results should include name, date, location, and type of the race:

1st Category 1 Tour of the Catskills 2009 Sept NY USA Prologue
12th UCI 2.2 Tour of Rwanda 2008 Nov Rwanda Africa Stage 3


3. Profile Statistics should include DOB, category, years racing, and a fresh photo on the bike:

Example: 1982-9-Sept          Junior cat 2          3 years

4. Attractive extras may include team history, coach, and power data:

Example: 2009 Garmin Slipstream                Dr. Allen Lim              6.1 watts/kg @ LT

5. Personal favorites include datapoints from repeated testing over time and results outlined by recognizable names in the same race:

So what does it take to get on your dream team? Truthful record-keeping. Cold, hard planning. Years of determined suffering. Focused opportunities. Intentional networking.

There are some cool ways these connections are made. In one case, a rider from a remote but robust marketplace was championed as part of a growth strategy for globalization. He rode well and got his name among the known but also begged and pleaded for international assistance. In another, a director spoke with admiration about a young rider who contacted him admitting he was not yet ready for his team but expressed his determination to prepare and invited the director to follow his results. He did and was hired years later. This kind of realism coupled with faith leads to great things.

Even with cycling’s finite resources, the possibilities are limitless. Like the human will and the power of love, the more expanded, the more is held. There’s always room for one more rider, and your community wants to know all about you.

Beth Leasure raced as a profession in North America and Europe for over a decade. She offers coaching, strategy and inspiration for elite cyclists and teams. Learn more about cycling lifestyle at bethleasure.com or read Beth's blog, "Good Spin."


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