One thing I haven’t talked about, at all yet, is how the atmosphere is within the team. Jamey and Caroline have been on the team since the beginning. Lance was brought on at the end of last year and Laurel was onboard for all of last year. Therefore, I am the newest member to the cross program and honestly it doesn’t feel like that at all.
For a team manager, hiring a new rider must be a scary endeavor. I mean what if the person you bring on has it all put together on paper (i.e., resume) and puts up a very convincing, genuine, nice guy façade? Then, as they become more comfortable within the team, their real A-holeness starts to shine, as a team manager, you realize you made a mistake.
I am fairly certain that is not the case for me this year. From my point of view I am having a blast. I feel like I have fallen into the team’s dynamic and spirited atmosphere seamlessly. Everyone on the team is, more or less, just like I am. Most of the time we are joking around and having fun, but everyone understands when the time to be serious is. This attitude is resonated throughout our whole crew, mechanics, Manager, and riders. Team dinners are full of laughter and quips at one another. Race day comes and things get more serious as the crucial hour approaches. Not to say there isn’t any fun on race day but as a team we know when to dial back the jokes and dial up the focus.
Photo credit: Wil Matthews
This kind of atmosphere really suits me, in terms of being successful. I am not sure how I would handle racing every weekend with the team if Donn ran things like a European, no bull, old school, Director sportif. Well, actually I do know how I would handle it. I wouldn’t. I would crack for sure! That’s not to say Donn just sits back and lets us do whatever we want all weekend. He gently but firmly nudges us with a little pressure to reach the next level or race at the front.
Looking back at the past two weekends it is pretty apparent that the team is operating well. Caroline went 1 & 2 in Gloucester and 4 & 3 in Providence. Jamey went 4 & 5 in Gloucester and 5 & 3 in Providence, and I went 6 & 5 at Providence. Not to mention the strong rides from Amy D rider Rebecca Fahringer as well as the two youngsters Lance and Laurel. The two young riders are learning a lot and Donn realizes this. Lance is struggling, being a first year U23, with no UCI points, which sometimes puts him 10 rows back. There is only so much you can do from back there and Donn seems really happy with Lance’s continued determination.
Photo credit: Meg McMahon
In conclusion, I couldn’t be happier. When you spend as many weekends with team mates as our team does it is pretty important for everyone to be friends. Just getting along doesn’t always cut it, especially in the long run. Little things start to bother you and you can only hold so much in before you’re erupting like a volcano. The team is close with one another and that allows us to talk about things, vent, and move on. Thus, everyones happy and ready to race, which is what we all come together for anyway. So going into race weekends, like the Trek CX Cup this weekend and Boulder next weekend, I am excited. I get to see my friends again and I get to race bikes! What could be better? I guess it could be better if more dirt biking was involved in the team dynamic… I’ll work on that with Donn.