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How did you get/decide on a team?

Old 05-17-10, 03:15 PM
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How did you get/decide on a team?

First accept my sincere apologies if (heaven forbid) I am reviving an old or over-discussed topic.

I've raced unattached all spring and recently escaped the 5's... I've long wondered how it is that so many cat 5's are already on what seem to be small, close knit teams. Certainly there are those racing clubs you only need a bicycle and a few dollars to join (such as Kissena and CRCA here in the NYC area) of whom I would expect to see more of in the lower categories. Why would one join a team first and then start racing (seems like it would be logical to, as I did, try it out before taking such a plunge)?

For obvious reasons I think it would be wise to join a team and start working in earnest with the people I'd be racing with, though I'm sort of a loner and find it hard to chat up complete strangers; especially with the "can I be in your club" ulterior motive...

So, how did you find a team? were you invited to join? did you invite yourself?

Last edited by erk; 05-17-10 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 05-17-10, 03:31 PM
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Everyone and every area is different. I invited myself to my first actual team and then just made my second actual team.

Running a team I can tell you it is much easier if you express interest. Some teams prefer to recruit only the riders they want, but that can really be a pain and some of our best riders were at one point "walk-ups".

Picking one is easy - in my opinion. In this area there are a lot, including mine, that don't require dues making the decision one made from compatibility instead of financial ability. If you find yourself liking what a lot of particulars guys in the same kit are doing while out racing then they might be the ones you should talk to.

If you notice the same jerseys yelling - in not a nice way - in wrecks, with tons of lower cat and no upper cat (excluding new teams or self proclaimed 'development' squads, or hear other riders always complaining about team'x' then I would probably steer clear. Unless you like being the heel.
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Old 05-17-10, 03:42 PM
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Like you I tend to be kind of a loner. I'd been going on the local race ride and all the way through the Cat 5s as unattached. Felt kind of weird to ask "can I be on your team." But eventually I asked at the LBS about their team. There was a small fee to join the team, but there were good shop discounts and race reimbursements, so it more than made up for it. If there's a shop in town that you like, particularly if you're buying lots of stuff there anyway, just ask if they sponsor a team.
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Old 05-17-10, 03:55 PM
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I joined the club that a lot of the guys on my regular group ride were in.
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Old 05-17-10, 03:57 PM
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One of the local cat 2s came to the wednesday night group ride that I do pretty much every week late last year. I didn't know him at the time, but he was friends with a few of my training partners. After the ride, he told me he was starting a new team for this year, and invited me to the preliminary meeting. I knew I wanted to start racing, and figured this would help give me some more training partners, and it would be more fun racing with a group of friends. After riding with the team for 6-7 months, I am very happy with the decision, and almost everyone on the team is awesome. Very down to earth and very fun to be around. Most everyone on the team is a 3, 4, or 5 which makes it fun for me, as I don't have to worry about getting shelled completely by Cat 1s. We pay entry fees and we pay for our kits, but I have no problem with it, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
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Old 05-17-10, 05:35 PM
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The guys I rode with started a team. They wanted me to race with them. I decided to race and asked the bike shop owner/main sponsor of the team if I could join. He thought that I was already on the team. It was pretty much a 360 degree awesomely great idea for everyone. This is how it should be in a perfect world. It is kind of like getting married.

The bottom line is race with guys and gals that you like. I added "gals" because sometimes there are mixed fields and then you can work with/for the opposite gender legally. I did this recently.

Don't go for the best "deal". There isn't enough money in amateur bike racing to make it worthwhile to prostitute yourself that way. It is easier to dig deep for a friend than some random teammate that happens to wear the same jersey.
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Old 05-18-10, 12:00 AM
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Things must be different in the northeast than here.
There are only three real teams in my area, and as far as I know none are exclusive. My “team” is more like a riding club that happens to participate in and host races. I initially joined because my wife’s coworker suggested it, and I needed people to ride with. There are plenty who never race at all, and just do go on rides with the club, and the people who want to race, do. I have to imagine that the cat 5 people who are already on teams are in clubs like mine. It’s mostly cat 3, 4, 5 and masters riders… no cat 1 or 2s. I doubt I’ll ever make it to cat 2 and find myself alone in the pack anyway. The dues have already paid for themselves in entry fee discounts, kits subsidized from sponsors and store discounts. I’m glad to have gone on the club rides and gotten some experience riding with a group before jumping into a race pack. I’m still in my first season, but I’m not unhappy with my decision.
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Old 05-18-10, 08:20 AM
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I joined the LBS team. No dues. Shop discounts vary upon number of races entered. More of a social team, lots of mtn bikers. I rode with many of them socially prior to joining.

The LBS also sponsors another team that has more training options and riders in the higher categories. This team has dues, but also pays back entry fees if you meet certain criteria.
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Old 05-18-10, 08:54 AM
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Some teams/clubs have a developmental angle.

My current team, for example, is designed to help young cat 5 racers advance through the ranks. Many of the folks on the team joined when they had little or no experience racing - though it is expected that members be experienced riders.

Usually when they hit Cat 2, they split off to one of the more elite clubs.
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Old 05-18-10, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Some teams/clubs have a developmental angle.

My current club, for example, is designed to help young cat 5 racers advance through the ranks. Many of the folks on the club joined when they had little or no experience racing - though it is expected that members be experienced riders.

Usually when they hit Cat 2, they split off to one of the more elite teams.

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Old 05-18-10, 09:19 AM
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when i decided to race this season, it just so happened that the big local rec club decided to form a race team this year as well, and promoted itself as a beginner team that was more about just being supportive and having fun than training hard or being cutthroat. sounded like a good place to start.

what i've found though is that i've felt less supported than i wish i was, and at most of the events so far this season, there hasnt been much of a showing. despite the fact that theres like 30 of us and we're almost all 4s, i think 2 other teammates is the most ive ever seen in a race, and that happened once. the "training rides" are cafe rides mostly, theres not much leadership or coordination or communication, and no team meetings or parties or whatever...

i've been taking my training pretty seriously this spring and i'm starting to see some results, but i can say pretty honestly i dont owe any of it to the team, and will probably jump to another team next year, one thats a little better organized and a little more active, not cutthroat, but active. nothing against the guys on my team, its just not the scene i was hoping for. lot more rec guys, mtbr's and multisport folks.

in retrospect, i think a better way, certainly a cheaper way, to get on a team around here at least would be to ride unattached for a year, and jsut race a lot and show up for all the regular training rides and local practice races and get to know the scene, and from that its easy to figure out the cutures of the different teams and what to expect, and then you can approach the one you feel msot comfortable with. (or they might approach you) . it shoudl be a given that the first concern is personalities, but after that: how much of a committment do they expect? how many races? how much event volunteering? how much money?

i'm new so grain of salt, but i feel like i learned a valuable lesson about picking a team this year.
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Old 05-18-10, 09:19 AM
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some teams have an open/social ride open to anyone in addition to a 'team only' ride. I did the social ride for awhile to see if I could keep up and to see if I like the people. yes/yes. joined team.
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Old 05-18-10, 09:25 AM
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I joined the team I did because my friend was on it. She talked me into giving racing a try in the first place, then started inviting me to their practices and team rides. I had originally planned to wait a while, but after riding with them for a month or two they asked me to join, so I did, and I couldn't be happier.

It's really nice having teammates in the field during races (even if the three of us who are Cat 4's aren't really on top of the whole team tactics thing yet), practices and group rides are great training for me, sharing rides/hotels/info/hanging out at out of town races lets me go places I would never go to alone, and being the youngest/least experienced person on the team I feel like I have a ready-made set of mentors who are helping me out and showing me the ropes. I ask lots of questions and they give lots of advice.

Overall it's been a 100% positive experience for me. Our race report emails are a total love-fest and I like it.

But most importantly, I look super-hot in my kit
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Old 05-18-10, 09:28 AM
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Raced unattached as a 5, and got a feel for which teams did what at races. Some had numbers but just rode the race like a group ride (no animation or results). Some had cool kits but never were at races, or only had one guy there. Some had horrible kits.

So I picked a team I liked and did the "meet the team" ride with them. Gives you a way to check it out without having to join right away.
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Old 05-18-10, 12:20 PM
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Thanks for the input, everyone! Duly noted...

@caloso & @Crack Monkey: that's a good idea, there are definitely a few nice LBS' that see a significant portion of my income every few weeks...

@GirlAnachronism: that's pretty much how I'd envisioned things panning out and the sort of positive relationship I'd like to have... Also, I'm glad you deigned to bring up the style aspect of things; it seems silly to me and perhaps a bit superficial, but much of my opinions about certain teams or clubs are influenced by how presentable they are at races and how tasteful their kits are
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