Every cyclist that races has some ego attached to what they do. Whether they are racing for a win or racing for their own best effort, the ego is ever-present and hard to ignore.
But, when you race for a team, the ego has to take a back seat (or a back wheel) to the team. When you are competing on a team in a road race or criterium, it has to be about the team’s podium – whether that is yours or your teammate’s.
This past weekend, my teammate, Elaine and I, raced the BTR criterium (in the pouring rain) on Saturday and Race for the Wishes road race on Sunday. There are only 2 of us, and we both are best in time trial mode… meaning, we have our best results when we can get away from the pack. In racing, we call this a “break,” when a rider or group of riders has broken away from the pack to win the race. With this in mind, our mutual goal was to get one of us in a break.
If one makes a break, it is the other teammate’s job to slow the peloton’s chase by not participating in any efforts to reel the break back into the peloton, and chasing down any other break, sitting second wheel, and again no participating in the pull efforts.
Toward the end of the race on Saturday, at BTR criterium, I chased a rider who went for a prime (a prize for crossing the line first on a bell lap) and got away. The person I chased couldn’t hold on, so I rode solo 4-5 miles, building distance between myself and the rest of the riders. Because I had a teammate in the peloton, I knew that one of the strongest riders behind me, Elaine, would not be pulling to reel me back in.
She let the others try to chase me down without lending a hand. And, I can tell you- this is hard to do. When you know your lack of contribution to the chase means likely giving up a podium spot – the ego has to be set aside. But, this is what being on a team is all about.Sunday, I had the opportunity to do the same thing for Elaine.
She chased a break that stuck and worked with the two other women to build a comfortable lead going into the last lap of a 17 mile course (3 total laps for the race). Meanwhile, I was sitting in the peloton, frustrating the other riders by refusing to assist in chasing the break. I set my ego aside and took joy in knowing that Elaine would take well-earned podium spot.
The end result? I was able to maintain my break for a win at BTR. Elaine hammered home a 2nd place finish at the State Championship road race. But, really, we both stood on the podium at both races because we accomplished these things together.