As I mentioned in a previous post, I was fortunate to be picked up to be the team director for the USMES Elite Cycling Team for 2014. After a few weeks of conversing with the 6 selected elite road riders plus our sole mountain biker via social media, email and phone, last week was my first opportunity to meet the team in person and ride and talk with them face to face. Fortunately I wasn’t ”Catfished” and the positive online vibe I got was indeed supported in person. It’s a great crew with a lot of potential and I look forward to the season ahead working with all of them.
In addition to “team building” and bonding with the riders as the elite director, I was also in charge of leading the “A” group on each of the day’s rides which ranged from 12-20 riders each day depending on the course. While I was born in Tucson and was familiar with the area, I actually had seen very little of it by bicycle and was a bit nervous as I didn’t 100% know all the routes. In addition, anytime you get 10-20 elite level cyclists and triathletes in a group, there is bound to be a little bit of flexing of muscles. Given this, I had some concern about trying to keep the group together and safe, but allow folks to have fun by dropping the hammer a little at the same time. In the end, armed with some .gpx files, a stern word here and there (the occasional “GET OUT OF THE ROAD!” was required at water stops), and help from others with local knowledge, we were able to navigate through without a hitch (ok except for that one wrong turn…) and strike a nice balance between keeping the group together and allowing a few fireworks to fly in the right places. Thanks to all who helped keep things in check and for all the rider’s understanding and cooperation.
It was also great to finally meet many of the club members and hear about their backgrounds and stories. Of particular interest was the adaptive athletes, talk about an impressive bunch. Watching them climb every day was absolutely amazing. Climbing Mt Lemmon on a bike took on average about 1:40 to 2:15 of sustained effort, imagine, 9 hrs on a hand cycle scaling Mt Lemmon, absolutely incredible. One of the most memorable quotes all week was the very man who accomplished that, Scott Wells, who said “You should aspire to inspire before you expire.” Great words to live by and a great week. If you spent any time in the military, guard, reserve or active and have any interest in endurance sports, I highly recommend signing up for the club and joining us at camp next year, more info is at www.usmes.org Until next time.