by Mark Cator Well another season is fast approaching and none too soon! I am really looking forward to getting back out on the road and out of the basement. It has been a tough offseason for me if you count the weight I have gained, so it may be a rough start, but I’m ready.
Freddy asked me to consider writing a note that speaks to what Team Race stands for, however for that I am not qualified. What I can attempt to write is what it means to me. There is no doubt that cycling is one of the best things that has ever happened to me and Team Race has been at the heart of my experience all the way. I have come to love the sport and Team Race has exemplified all of what I find great about it; healthier living, great people, fun in competition, community and giving back.
I came to cycling from running, because running was starting to beat me up. Something always hurt and although I was ready for a change, I had no idea what I was getting into. My first ride with TR was definitely one of the toughest physical challenges I had ever faced, yet it was also the most satisfying. But what really made it special for me was the people I was riding with, they were not going to give up their ride totally to baby me, but they were not going to leave me either…or were they? That was part of what made it perfect for a guy like me. I didn’t really know where I was once I got up into Waterdown, I had never ridden more than 60kms in one ride, I had no food and no matter how hard I pushed the guys could just muscle away from me in a way that seemed effortless. So you may ask, what makes that perfect? Well, even though I love to be challenged, I need to be liked, I am not quick to step outside my comfort zone and I’m used to being good at most of the physical things I do, this was a new experience. In this case, I was totally beaten from a physical challenge point of view. I didn’t know if I was liked because it seemed I was holding them up, although Freddy would venture back from time to time and the others waited at strategic spots. I was way outside my comfort zone; lost, exhausted, out gunned and ill-equipped. Finally, I wasn’t feeling at all “good” at what I was doing, even though I thought I had trained for this ride.
After the ride back at the Starbucks, my bike was tossed into the roadway because TR didn’t feel it deserved to be parked alongside theirs and I was initially ridiculed for; my clothes, glasses, helmet, ancient bicycle (they called me “down-shifter” because the shifter was on the lower cross-bar), strap-in peddles and on and on and on. But I had never felt more exhilarated and although I’m still not sure why, maybe the lack of blood to my head, or maybe just the fact that I survived it, but on top of that, once the ridicule stopped the supportive talk began. I was told I was maybe the first to have made the whole “morning” route the first time. I was given huge credit for pushing a 25 pound, 15 year old bike around 93 km’s. I was invited to ride again and assured it got easier. The banter turned to counsel and I was given some constructive input on bikes, training, and apparel. By the time I had choked down a coffee I knew I was welcome and had all the support I needed if I was willing to commit! And that’s Team Race. They will ride you to the death, but if you’re committed they will be there every step of the way.
My simple way to phrase it was “inclusive”, with a catch. For example when after my first summer of riding and feeling pretty good about myself, the guys said, “Sure, come to Mallorca and ride with us”, all 17 of us, but apparently if you get lost a Team Race rider finds their own way home. Okay, if you can figure out how to call them, they’ll come and get you. Like I said, “inclusive with a catch”.