Thursday, May 7, 2009

Esprit de Corps

I bought my first bicycle as an adult a couple summers ago from the High Gear bicycle shop in La Vista. At that time, I joined the Midwest Cycling Community (MCC) and received an extra 15% of the bike's purchase price toward accessories. The membership also came with a complete cycling kit as well as a coupon book for accessories, clothing and maintenance packages. It truly was a great deal. Win-Win.

That was two years ago. Since then, I've entered a few triathlons, but haven't had the opportunity to train with MCC's club rides, much less any group on a regular basis.

This spring, however, I've been a regular at the Trek Store's Wednesday Night club ride. I wear the Midwest Cycling Community gear because the Trek store is the club's sponsor and organizer of the ride. It's also a good looking kit.

I give credit to the MCC for their attempt to be an inclusive club. It's even stated as their motto. And as such, the club ride is open to just about anyone who'd like to join in. So on any given Wednesday night, there are people who wear other team's colors, as well as other store jerseys, professional team jersey replicas and the like.

For example, last night's ride had 22 cyclists. Of that, maybe half were wearing the MCC kit. Of the rest, there was a smattering of jerseys: a few from Omaha Velo club's donning orange and blue tiger stripes, a Bike Masters forest green jersey or two, a blue and lime green Team Liquigas jersey, other random bike shops, a Nigel Tufnel skeleton Jersey (Lucas) and what appeared to be a gray merino wool polo shirt worn by Eric Brunt.

You see? All are welcome in such an inclusive cycling community.

But being too inclusive can have its draw backs. It can muddy the waters about who's really on your team and who's just part of the overall community. But since the team is also part of the overall community, it can become some sort of recursive, inbred mess.

Let's back up a step. First, I didn't even know that I was on the team until Shim recently informed me of my status. Was it when I bought the kit? Or did I become a team member when I wore the jersey the first time? I dunno, but I half expected that at some point to be trotted out in the alley behind the store to be picked for a local team grade-school style. But apparently all it took was buying a cycling kit to distinguish myself apart from the community as a member of the team.

That brings me to my next point: who are my teammates?!?

The kits are a good start. But what happens when a dude shows up wearing the red and black MCC jersey AND clashing orange 'n blue tiger stripe bibs from Omaha Velo team's kit? <== that really happened. Am I to embrace him as my teammate? And if so, am I to embrace his upper half while Omaha Velo takes the lower extremities? And what about the Skeletor and Mr EB Woolie Polo? Do they have MCC kits hanging in their closets too? Or, is there an unknown secret handshake/grip and Greek phrase to be muttered before races that I've yet to learn about? These are things that are still left to learn about my team, my teammates.

Don't get me wrong, I like all of the wholesome goodness that inclusiveness brings, but please help me identify where the line is drawn, 'cause I've been thinking about racing soon and I wanna know who's with me.

Go Team.


  1. At what point did Shim mention you were part of the team? Was it when he was needing you to lead out/draft for him. Shim's really good at using others to his advantage. He's a smart racer.

  2. that Omaha Velo kit shouldn't be worn in public, let alone with bits of kit from other teams.

  3. Bryan: Agreed, that kit makes me wanna vomit.

    Brady: Fun hitting the pavement home w/ ya last night. Looking forward to next Wednesday.

  4. Hehe... That orange kit stands out. Which is the point I would guess.

    If MCC is anything like another team that wears green jerseys instead, then membership is only determined by that initial purchase. So you can leave the kit in the closet (not suggested) and your still on the team.

    I'll try to join you for one of those rides eventually. But I will not embrase you because we are not teammates. :-( so sad.

  5. Until your racing cat 3 or so, your teammates will be anyone else in the race that you either are good friends with or have about the same fitness level as no matter what team they're on. It's very common in cat 4/5 to see someone from Team A chase down a lone breakaway rider from, um Team A - of course bringing the whole pack with him.

  6. I love the Tiger kits, you know the wonderful thing about Tigers?

  7. Munson: Shim mentioned it right before the sprint to _____ . I should also mention that was also right after asking where you were last week.

    Regarding the orange and blue tigger stripes: personally, I like those kits. In fact, when I was just a runner, it was one of the first teams that I recognized in Omaha. Of course, that's when I thought cycling was merely a cross training exercise for running. The kits certainly stand out, even if they bear some resemblance to the Cincinnati Powder Puffs.

    Fred: So what you're saying is that I can expect more of that wholesome, inclusive goodness as a CAT 4/5. That's good, because everyone knows that there's no "I" in team. Come to think of it, there's also no "Brady" in team. Which makes me recall that there's also no "ir" in "regardless". I really hate that one, but that's being nitpicky. So, (ir)regardless of how one personally feels about orange and blue striped kits, or what letters in teh alphabet are/are not contained in the word "team", I can at least count on a massive pack of riders with little to no racing experience, all charging to the finish in a tight proxmity of each other for the next two seasons if I should choose to race.

    Towards this end, I'm committed to acquiring whatever skills are necessary to be at the front of that hysteria. The Wednesday club rides are a good proving ground for this. In fact, every time I believe I'm about to win the _____ prime, I hear a familiar voice say, "textbook lead-out" a moment before a blue Eddy Merckx bike blasts by with the rest of the pack in tow.