Tip #21: Make the most of your team
So you’ve joined a team. Great! Now all you have to do is show up at races and together you’ll be an invincible band of brothers, right?
Not so fast, sparky. The most rewarding benefit of belonging to an amateur team, camaraderie, doesn’t happen overnight. You’re going to be “the new guy” for awhile, especially on larger teams with open memberships, and some teammates may wait until you’ve proven yourself as a responsible rider and capable athlete before they totally trust you on the road and consider you their friend and ally.
Here are some things you can do to facilitate a good team experience:
Join early: Our season doesn’t start until March and doesn’t peak until July, but don’t wait until then to join a team. Pre-season is the best time to get to know your team. More important, teams put in their uniform orders at the beginning of the year. You may be stuck racing in your Pearl Izumi if you join too late.
Go on the training rides: Most teams host their own group rides. Go. If people aren’t chatting you up, it’s not because they don’t like you. They just don’t know who you are yet. Introduce yourself. Compliment people on their bikes. Many a beautiful friendship has started with, “Is that Campy you’ve got goin’ on down there?”
Be social: If your team has social nights, go to them. If it doesn’t, propose one. The magic words are: “First pitcher’s on me.”
Go online: Online forums or mailing lists are a great way to get to know who’s who on your team, especially in the dark months when we’re not on the road as much as we’d like. Participate as much as you can without getting fired, even if it’s just a “Hey, I’m the new guy on the blue Orbea. Can’t wait to ride with you.”
Race: Duh. Race. Race lots. You’ll be surprised how well you’ll know someone once you’ve raced with them. Carpool if possible. Nothing bonds riders quite like a four-hour trip to a road race. And a teammate who entrusts his changing towel to you is a teammate who will trust you with anything.
Any other thoughts on getting integrated into your new team?