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How to ride like a team

Old 06-27-10, 09:02 AM
  #1  
Grumpy McTrumpy
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How to ride like a team

my team is pretty good at riding against eachother.

riding for eachother is another issue entirely.

I propose we have a thread dedicated to "tips and methods on how to get your team to ride like a team"

Experienced racers (you know who you are).... I'm all ears.
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Old 06-27-10, 09:07 AM
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Split any and all winnings, even if it's $5. It doesn't matter if you go solo from the starting gun, you still split the pot. Anyone who chases a teammate or does something else super dumb doesn't get their split.

Spend time together off the bike if possible.

Give everyone a job before the race. This includes picking a "road captain" who has the right to change the strategy up mid-way through. Nobody else can alter the strategy. Goal is to avoid "too many cooks in the kitchen."
The jobs depend on how many guys you have, and their strenghts. Generally:
1) sprinter - doesn't do a damn thing the whole race
2) early break guys
3) late break guys
4) "last man," takes care of the sprinter and is final leadout. In lower-cat racing, one leadout guy is generally about as organized as you're going to get. This guy's finish line is 200m out.
5) road captain - often the sprinter since he's going to be in the field the whole time anyway

Last edited by ZeCanon; 06-27-10 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 06-27-10, 01:56 PM
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your team's got to be willing to be a team - that is, the individuals have to be willing. if everybody is trying to save their energy for a mediocre finish, well, it's going to be hard to get people to commit to teamwork.

if you can make it so that everybody benefits - "we ride for X this week, Y next week, Z next week" in addition to sharing $$$ - that might get people willing to lay it down for their teammates.

but if nobody is going to be willing to sacrifice their result for somebody else's, well, you don't have a team. you have guys wearing the same clothes.
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Old 06-27-10, 02:03 PM
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ZC's advice is sound.

especially the "spend time together off the bike if possible."

it also helps to have someone who's a clear leader. not always an easy/obvious thing.
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Old 06-27-10, 02:55 PM
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Clear leader is important, as is one that motivates and inspires the others. It's hard to be motivated by someone that doesn't inspire you. It's much easier to ride for someone that is enthusiastic, outgoing, respects you, etc.

Confidence in leader is also important. Meaning the team believes in the leader's chances, or at least that the leader will be there, be willing. It's okay to work for a leader that is normally a helper, simply because the whole team understands that it's nice to be the leader. But to work super hard for a rider, that's hard if you don't have confidence in the leader being able to follow up.

Off-bike friendship/hanging out counts for a lot. Wives/girlfriends that get along with one another help too.
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Old 06-27-10, 02:58 PM
  #6  
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Good thread and good content.
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Old 06-27-10, 04:35 PM
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A clear leader, but one who is willing to put his aspirations aside to help a teammate succeed. If you have a clear leader who spends the whole season insisting everyone rides for him/her then you will not have a team riding for each other.
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Old 06-27-10, 05:38 PM
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This is the $1M question. You really need to have guys riding for the team and not for themselves. Splitting winnings is a great idea, but really the winnings are so small as to not matter much for lots of us.

I know that it is theoretically possible to get upgrades based on supporting roles if the right arguments are made to a sympathetic official, but it would be awesome if there was a way to get upgrade points officially from USCF by doing the dirty work to get a teammate the podium spot. I'm thinking of something like the "assist" in hockey or basketball. It really is a huge part of this sport, but it gets virtually no recognition outside of the guys actually doing the racing.

Don't ask me how to "score" that, though. That would be really tough.
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Old 06-27-10, 06:15 PM
  #9  
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If you're in a position where you are ready to upgrade, you are likely the protected rider anyway. And nobody ever said you can only have one protected rider.

If you are not strong enough that your team wants to rally behind you, you will likely be very unhappy in the next category anyway.
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Old 06-27-10, 06:39 PM
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This is the million dollar question.

Previous posters already mention a team leader but that person doesn't need to be the strongest rider. I can use my own situation as an example. I certainly run the team and make the management decisions but, if there is too much climbing, I am not the guy.

One of my management decisions is to identify 'A' races for each rider and then give clear roles to the riders during training leading up to an event and on the race day itself. We are lucky, this year, in that the guys on my team like each other and will work for each other and share in the benefits of team membership. They are friends off the bike as well.

I have not always been so lucky. I can recall 2 seasons where we had protected riders who only thought of themselves once the gun went off. All of the talking and planning we did beforehand (including all the time and effort that went into team training) was gone. In this situation there is nothing you can do short of removing that rider from the team. If this isn't an option then you need to stop figuring them into your training/plans (let them come along if they wish) but move forward with those who are willing to work as a team.

I guess I'm pretty much reiterating what has already been said. I would add that having a manager or someone outside the riders helps with the 'too many cooks' problem and can help focus a team.

A final suggestion for 'buddy time' is to get together to watch racing videos like old TdF etc. This gives guys a chance to hang out but also, based on the chatter during the video, can help guys understand the mindsets of their team mates and what might be going through their head in the middle of a race. I would avoid giving this time any official structure instead I would just let the guys hang out and let the bull**** flow naturally. What's important will come out if it's ever going to.
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Old 06-27-10, 06:43 PM
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I would disagree with the "one leader" thing being a bad thing.

I've usually been a protected rider on my team, due to the fact that I can sprint, I can read a race, and I need a LOT of help to get to the finish (i.e. I need to sit on wheels). This started in 1989, when the Carpe Diem Racing team officially got registered. The seeds were there as early as 1985 or so, when we started working as a team. But in 1989 it got more significant, and one year (1992?) other racers wouldn't ask how I was riding/training, they'd ask which of my teammates were going to be at the race. That's huge.

Although I volunteer to help others, usually the default scenario was to set me up for the race (if it was a reasonable crit, without a wall in it). This wasn't by my choice; it was more "that's what the boys want to do". It didn't mean I did well - in fact, I've never won a summer race. But for whatever reason the guys would rally around me for the whole year.

Honestly it's easier being the domestique. It's easier for me to work to help others - last spring I surprised myself by being active for a whole race in order to protect a friend's teammate's overall position in a race series. I did all sorts of huge moves, all because I just wanted to help that guy.

I think it's all about having fun. Although I'd prefer to win when the team helps, a lot of times the win is not there. Instead it's about making a difference. The teammates that I raced with (and a few that I race with now) really like working together to affect the race's outcome. We may not win but we influence the race. We're active, we try things, and it's a blast. Everyone that participates is part of the triumph, the post race chatter, etc etc.

I'm no superstar racer. I can't ride in breaks, I can't climb, I can't time trial. So teamwork is less about results and more about the process.

If it was about results, I'd have quit a long time ago.
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Old 06-27-10, 07:11 PM
  #12  
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Before this conversation goes any further (and I think it should, great topic), I'd just like to note again, as BD alluded to, the significant difference between team leader and protected rider.

One person may be both, but it's not necessary. The former should remain somewhat constant throughout the season, whereas the latter may change race to race, or even within a race.

Carry on.
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Old 06-27-10, 07:52 PM
  #13  
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One thing my team does extremely well is race together. We rarely get the opportunity to ride together outside of races but once the race is on it's amazing how well we gel and somehow, more often than not, manage to get a result.

The first thing that really sets this team apart is that the brain trust really knows how to pick guys to part of the team. I really think this is important. We aren't a jersey you can buy and say I race for Joe's. You don't have to be fast but can't be a prima donna.

Honestly the lack of ego on this team is astonishing. I've seen Ex bury himself and finish DFL to get one of our guys a W, this in a race he could have won himself. There are five or six guys on our team that can win on any given weekend but there never seems to be any hard feelings if they weren't the 'chosen' one. If WR gets off the front each of us will protect his lead and visa versa. It's not even a question we just do it. We also show up to race...unless you are told to sit an save something this team attacks and keeps attacking until we get one of us in break..then we'll work like hell to protect it.

At the State RR last year for the 45 miles of a 60 mile race me and one of my teammates (a guy who had just joined the squad) killed ourselves on the front of race..drilling it up every climb...the other guys on the squad covered every attack and launched several of their own until Ex could get finally get off and win the jersey. Had one of the attacks by one of our guys stuck Ex would have worked just as hard as any of us to make sure it stuck.

For me, in the masters 40+ I'm not likely to win a race, but on my team I get to play a part in helping one of several teammates get good results. Yeah the money gets passed around but honestly it's not about that. We count on each other and we deliver on that promise and that makes it fun and fulfilling.

I was invited onto a team last year that get a lot of really sweet deals....I mean stupidly sweet deals. But the team is based around one guy and he never puts it on the line for another teammate. It all for one and well thats it. I would rather not get one thing free on this team.

Last edited by El Diablo Rojo; 06-27-10 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 06-28-10, 01:31 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Ariostea View Post
A clear leader, but one who is willing to put his aspirations aside to help a teammate succeed. If you have a clear leader who spends the whole season insisting everyone rides for him/her then you will not have a team riding for each other.
which means they're not a clear leader.

Last edited by botto; 06-28-10 at 01:35 AM.
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Old 06-28-10, 07:26 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by mollusk View Post
Splitting winnings is a great idea, but really the winnings are so small as to not matter much for lots of us.
True, particularly in lower categories, and for older guys, the money is not significant, but I think splitting it is symbolic, i.e. it's the recognition that it's really a team effort.

I kinda equate bike race winnings to penny ante poker winnings and $5 nassau's on the Golf course. The money has more symbolic value, than monetary value. Taking $20 from your Golf buddies, or winning $20 in a bike race is worth more than $20 buys.
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Old 06-28-10, 07:31 AM
  #16  
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Any group can ride like a team but it takes more to RACE like one.... Here are some more things that havent been fully covered yet.


1. All ego's must be checked at the door before the event.

2. Throughout the year rotate out the responsibilities of race leader, early break guy, late break guy, etc. In higher CATs this might not be an option but nothing sucks more than being the team "b*tch" every weekend. Spread out the events so everybody has an "A" race to train/peak for... Plenty of chances for the sprinters to work for the climbers and vice versa if you ask me.

3. Been covered but split the race winnings... If I take the time to split 20 bucks 6 ways (after placing 2nd with a 4 man break on lap 1 of a crit) I expect the same in return. Its about respect.. Not that this has ever happened to me
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Old 06-28-10, 07:38 AM
  #17  
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Well. The best place to start is in the selection process. If you put guys on the team who are a holes there's a pretty good chance they're going to stay that way. Clubs are not teams. So if we're talking teams start with riding with guys you actually like and who you can communicate with. Then, as noted above, delineating duties is helpful. This, of course, makes no sense if the team or individual riders don't have the chops to perform said duties. For example, 'Bob you mark 345.' Except 345 can ride Bob off his wheel. It makes no sense to talk lead outs unless you have guys that can actually drop the watts, or the sprinter to take advantage of it. Easier dynamics can be discussed in the post race 'what we did right/wrong' session. This is a good time to point out that chasing the break when the team had a guy in it wasn't a great idea.
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Old 06-28-10, 07:44 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by El Diablo Rojo View Post
One thing my team does extremely well is race together. We rarely get the opportunity to ride together outside of races but once the race is on it's amazing how well we gel and somehow, more often than not, manage to get a result.

The first thing that really sets this team apart is that the brain trust really knows how to pick guys to part of the team. I really think this is important. We aren't a jersey you can buy and say I race for Joe's. You don't have to be fast but can't be a prima donna.

Honestly the lack of ego on this team is astonishing. I've seen Ex bury himself and finish DFL to get one of our guys a W, this in a race he could have won himself. There are five or six guys on our team that can win on any given weekend but there never seems to be any hard feelings if they weren't the 'chosen' one. If WR gets off the front each of us will protect his lead and visa versa. It's not even a question we just do it. We also show up to race...unless you are told to sit an save something this team attacks and keeps attacking until we get one of us in break..then we'll work like hell to protect it.

At the State RR last year for the 45 miles of a 60 mile race me and one of my teammates (a guy who had just joined the squad) killed ourselves on the front of race..drilling it up every climb...the other guys on the squad covered every attack and launched several of their own until Ex could get finally get off and win the jersey. Had one of the attacks by one of our guys stuck Ex would have worked just as hard as any of us to make sure it stuck.

For me, in the masters 40+ I'm not likely to win a race, but on my team I get to play a part in helping one of several teammates get good results. Yeah the money gets passed around but honestly it's not about that. We count on each other and we deliver on that promise and that makes it fun and fulfilling.

I was invited onto a team last year that get a lot of really sweet deals....I mean stupidly sweet deals. But the team is based around one guy and he never puts it on the line for another teammate. It all for one and well thats it. I would rather not get one thing free on this team.
Yeah, reading how our 40+ squad bent everyone over in Tulsa brought a tear to my eye. Completely pwned.
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Old 06-28-10, 07:51 AM
  #19  
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what seems to work well for me.
1) drive to the race together. - Great time to discuss strategy, bond as friends, talk about equipment, etc...
2) Be extremely flexible in your planning. Outline what you WANT to happen, then outline general strategies for when/if your main fails. Usually ~5% of my plans work out, so there are many more times that I default to the backup plan.
3) You have to ride near each other, no excuses. If you're not near each other enough to talk/yell you can't do anything. (Kinda important for 3/4/5s I think since a lot of people don't understand this).
4) If a teammate only has the fitness to barely hang on, there's probably not much he/she can do besides take a death pull, so don't plan unrealistic expectations for people. They still split the winnings.
5) It helps if you're all friends.
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Old 06-28-10, 10:09 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
True, particularly in lower categories, and for older guys, the money is not significant, but I think splitting it is symbolic, i.e. it's the recognition that it's really a team effort.

Last year, at one point, I was our protected rider. Everyone on the team pitched in and helped me get a 'W' and a series jersey. I didn't split the money for the win, which I think was about $80. At the next race (last of the year), I ordered a bunch of pizzas and drinks from a team sponsor (more that $80's worth) so that after our race we could all sit around, get fat and watch the Pro,1,2 race. It was a good time and seemed to mean more to people than "Here's your $12 and here's your $12...".
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Old 06-28-10, 10:14 AM
  #21  
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reminds me of playing in bands in college.

we decided early on that we wouldnt do cash payouts for gigs but rather pool all the gig money we made into band investments and gas money and food money and marketing/recordingh stuff.

got tricky when people quit the band and wanted thier cash share of a PA or something, but if you lay down rules in advance...
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Old 06-28-10, 11:22 AM
  #22  
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Great thread... but... maybe the bigger question for most clubs is not "how"... but "why" ?

For a 4 / 3 / Masters club, what's in it for the riders?

Here's my take:
- shared success
- shared prize money
- learning / development from the stronger/experienced riders

But as others have noted, it's one thing to say this over beers, and quite another to ask a guy to bury himself in the early miles, abandoning all hope of a placing or even a finish, for the (potential) reward of, what, watching a guy you only kind of know, finish 7th and share $5 with you... it can be a challenge.
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Old 06-28-10, 11:29 AM
  #23  
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^I am the guy who does that work, and I really don't mind finishing DFL or even getting dropped, provided that I get some appreciation for what I did, and hopefully that I had a positive affect on the outcome.

The problem is when I'm doing it but it makes no difference. Yesterday I put myself in front of two of my guys in the last lap, pulled them to the front and pretty much died there. They must have thought that I was going to drag them all the way to the line, but I think it should be obvious that once I stop accelerating it's time for the next guy to come around and take over. This never happened, and I finished my usual DFL but with no good team result and pretty much zilch in terms of appreciation.

The reaction was more like "I wish you had pulled out of the way because I got boxed in behind you". (that would have caused a crash btw)

Yay me. I felt like, what's the friggin' point? Damned if I do, damned if I don't.

I had already made at least three attacks, one of them resulting in a pretty good shot at a winning break, although we didn't work well together and got caught.
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Old 06-28-10, 11:40 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Creakyknees View Post
Great thread... but... maybe the bigger question for most clubs is not "how"... but "why" ?

For a 4 / 3 / Masters club, what's in it for the riders?

Here's my take:
- shared success
- shared prize money
- learning / development from the stronger/experienced riders

But as others have noted, it's one thing to say this over beers, and quite another to ask a guy to bury himself in the early miles, abandoning all hope of a placing or even a finish, for the (potential) reward of, what, watching a guy you only kind of know, finish 7th and share $5 with you... it can be a challenge.
It's this attitude that helps a team like ours. Aside from WR, Ex and Jonathan, my only connection with my teammates is that we race together. Yet all of us do exactly what you say most teams don't...that's burying yourself so your teammate can have success. Two things come into play here. One is the greater good..i.e. would your rather see a member of your team on the top step than see yourself finish 10th (or worse). The other is understanding and accepting what you are capable of. Most bike racers suffer from illusions of grandeur. We like to envision that we will be in the winning break and win or out sprint everyone in the finale. The reality it that in a race with 100 riders maybe 5 have a legit shot at either of those scenes playing out. If my guy is in the finale and he finishes 7th on that day then so be it..he was in the finale, gave it his best and on that day it was 7th. No one wins all the time, but being there is proof that we, as a team, did our job...he'll get'm next time..or the time after that.

In a 4 or 5 race most guys won't do anything that might compromise them finishing. I said finishing not winning. Finishing weather it be 10th or 30th seems to carry with it some import...so guys ride selfishly even if they have a teammate who, with some help could have won the race. This year at Copperas Cove 3/4 race, my teammate Jonathan was away alone for 90% of the race while, I, a 143lb single rider, kept 80 other guys from chasing him down. How could this happen? Guy were racing to finish...teams who were 5-6 riders deep didn't do squat to chase him down so all i had to do was handle two or three guys who did try to bring him back.

The biggest compliment I've received racing bike has come after a race when another rider comes up and says wow you guys really controlled that race. I've received this compliment in 4's 3's and masters races. Like I said my team comes to race..and to win..as long as a Joe's guy wins then it's win for everyone and we really are genuinely happy about it. It helps that our 5-6 potential race winners are exceedingly gracious about handing out the compliments to those of us who work. It helps that those 5-6 guys are just as willing to lose in order to help one of the other to win. It helps that all of us aren't so full of ourselves that another teammates success makes for hard feelings.

Last edited by El Diablo Rojo; 06-28-10 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 06-28-10, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
True, particularly in lower categories, and for older guys, the money is not significant, but I think splitting it is symbolic, i.e. it's the recognition that it's really a team effort.
"All right, guys, I just won fortyfive bucks. Who's coming for bagels?"

also, re: team leaders... i've found that the best leaders are far more than the ones who are anointed to make decisions. rather, they're great at cajoling, motivating, and encouraging cooperation and participation and making people feel good about their sacrifice.
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