My job entails enforcing community standards at a local college, and past jobs have almost always focused on building a sense of community among college students. This is a lens through which I view the world, and the concept of community plays a part in my life daily. In fact, when searching for our first home, we decided to buy in the building where we currently live because of the community atmosphere that we witnessed during an open house (someone locked her keys in her car, while it was running, on the biggest snow day of the year, and others in the building helped her get back into her car).
While the word “community” isn’t necessarily used when referring to cycling teams, I see teams as the perfect example of smaller communities within the cycling community. (I’ve been told that a local rider often refers to this as a “fraternity”.) It makes me happy to see team members hanging out at the team tent, cheering on and supporting other team members. It makes me even happier to see family members included in that team community.
My new commuting partner often says “Hi” when passing another cyclist on the road. My husband will almost always ask a rider on the side of the road if he/she needs anything. These simple acts let other cyclists know that they are recognized as fellow community members and it reminds us that we’re not alone out there on the road.
When racing, it can be easy to forget that you’re a part of the greater community of cyclists. During a race, it’s you (and maybe your teammates) against all the other racers in the field. But beyond race results, beyond upgrade points, even beyond the battle of you against yourself, it’s really all about the community. For many racers, the time spent at the coffee shop after the ride is just as important as the intervals. Group rides are about more than just hammering away at the miles, they’re also about the camaraderie, shared experience, and the group spirit one feels in a finely executed pace line.
Teams will soon begin the process of regrouping for the 2009 season: ordering kits, setting training plans, and looking forward to training camps. This is the time during which new riders will start seeking out new teams, looking for their place in the racing community. How will you welcome them to your community?