Teamwork: A Different Form of Storytelling
Mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together
I first planned to ride the Awesome Beacon Bike Ride from Woburn to Boston. I know well the bustling roads the route would take – where a rider would have to negotiate cars, rotaries, and the obstacles found riding busy city streets. As much as I wanted to clip in and ride, I determined that supporting the riders by leading them as a safety driver was my best contribution. Guiding the team safely into the city, I felt as much of a sense of accomplishment, achieved only through teamwork – the riders heeding my directions and me flexing to their audibles, to use a football term, on the road.
A colleague in the Latham office got wind of my decision; he suggested I ride the Latham to Saugerties, NY leg the following Tuesday…and by suggesting, I mean near hourly instant messages…“Did you decide yet?”…“Come on, you can do it. It will be hard, but it will be worth it”…“If you don’t do it, I’ll tell everybody you wimped out.” That was all the challenge I needed.
We were a troupe of eight cyclists, a family of sorts. Not only did we share a common goal, but we had started to build a history.
I only started road cycling in April as a means to an end. I am a long-time swimmer and runner with “complete a triathlon” on the bucket list. My tri-training rides were at most a third the distance of the 75 miles planned between Latham and Saugerties. Knowing the terrain of upstate New York, I was additionally concerned about the climbing – 3100 feet is a long way up. However, there was no backing out now.
The start of the ride was a brisk Tuesday morning at the Latham office. As we gathered, organizing our gear and saying hellos, you could feel the team starting to gel – ribbing about late arrivals, teasing about fellow riders showboating, who hadn’t showered that morning as we squeezed together for a picture; I was already feeling at home with the group.
You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. – Plato
So at 8:15 AM, we were off and that’s when it started. To make the left out of the parking lot required teamwork – someone pulled out to block traffic to help everyone through. A major intersection followed shortly after – “Hold up! Don’t think we all made it”; “Did we get everyone?”; “Everyone’s through!” could be heard as we passed through. We all blocked for each other, everyone lead, everyone followed, and everyone supported one another to keep going.
The day’s banter lightened as we progressed; we were no longer eight loosely related colleagues and friends. We were a troupe of eight cyclists, a family of sorts. Not only did we share a common goal, but we had started to build a history. We had a story that could only be relived by those in our troupe; we may relay the story, but to be part of it was to be part of our family.
And so the day progressed, with more history built, stories shared and memories made. And we climbed and climbed and climbed. And when we thought we were done climbing, we climbed more. What our troupe never lost sight of, even as we ascended to the top of New York’s Mt. Misery, was how to be a family – to give everyone their space to succeed, to push when they needed encouragement, and just like real brothers and sisters, to ensure everyone got the spirited raillery of their band of brothers (and sisters!)
What our troupe never lost sight of, even as we ascended to the top of Mt. Misery, was how to be a family – to give everyone their space to succeed, to push when they needed encouragement.
I learned more about what riding really means in that one day with my Latham cycling troupe than I have in all of my training rides. My bike is no longer a piece of technical equipment; the road is no longer about the miles to be faster or stronger. My bike is a conduit and the road the adventure waiting for me. And so to Joe, Pat, Joe, Beth, Grant, Jackie, Meredith, Brian, and Kim – thank you for being a part of my first big adventure and for turning riding from a form of training into a passion.
As a final note, I want to share some of the history we built that day for posterity…I was asked to Tweet along the ride so our gaggle joked in hashtags. In honor of my cycling family, here are a few of my favorite memories: