My beloved San Francisco 49ers are sucking again for about the 8th straight year. I guess now that they can't manipulate the salary cap by paying Jerry Rice about $5/year they are unable to get the same quality players as during those golden years of the 80's and early 90's. But, I am not writing to ask you all to get out your violins for a team that has won a record five(5) Super Bowls. What interests me is the recent replacement of head coach Mike Nolan for former Chicago Bears defensive standout Mike Singletary.
This past weekend was Mike's first game as the main man and when my beloved 49ers promptly started sucking big time, Singletary publicly exploded about the play of his team. Now, we can debate about whether Singletary should have aired his dirty linen in public, especially since it was his first game as head coach, but one thing he said resonated with me and provided the link for this stick-and-ball diatribe with bike racing.
Singletary commented that anyone who didn't want to accomplish more as a team than they could as an individual was not welcome on the 49ers. OK, it is pretty obvious that more people can accomplish more than one person, unless that one person is Superman; I think what Mike meant was that the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Where this belief applies to cycling is when a group of riders decide to ride together as a team and in the process accomplish much more, through strategy, tactics and a bit of luck, than the riders could do as individuals. That's the good part of being on the team. Another benefit is celebrating a victory when you are not the person capable of winning, but you are capable of helping a teammate win.
Now is the time that teams are forming for 2009. If you are already part of a team, it is time to ask yourself if your squad has been racing as a team or just looking to carpool to the races. When you go up the road in a breakaway are your teammates the one at the front initiating the chase? If you have never been part of a team, now is the time to realize that you can learn a heck of a lot from good, knowledgeable teammates and, if your car is questionable or gas heads backs up to $5/gallon, they can give you a ride to the races.
Either way, being on a team, especially if the squad rides like a team offers the potential for rewards much greater than individual achievements. And if all else fails, just remember, if you can't beat the competition, at least beat your teammates:-)