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  1. #1
    I play for keeps
    Reputation: locustfist's Avatar
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    Need for a team/club

    When I started this journey, going from a mountain biker in SoCal back to a road rider in Austin, TX (Road was my passion in HS), many people (both on the internet and around town) advised me to join a club or team.

    "You will want the support and wisdom that comes from more experienced riders" or "..people to train and race with."

    I intend to race and have entered and been happy with my early season results this year (racing mostly in 35+ cat 4/5 events).

    My life is one that I'm a public figure and very tapped socially and I don't have time for the social component that seems to come with being on a team full of mostly single people, empty nesters and retirees. I mean, maybe a beer every once in a while

    I'm married and have kids in elementary school. I try not to do many long rides on the weekend and save that for races. I like to spend my weekends with the family which I take VERY seriously. Long rides are during the week.

    Is it cool to be a part of a team to mainly just race with them and train only occasionally with them? Am I doomed to be the loner at races on the weekend? Advice? Do you race a lot and aren't on a team?

  2. #2
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    Shop around. Not every team is the same.

    My team has a couple regular midweek trainings during the winter. Those are mostly over since the weather has stopped sucking, but I wasn't trying to find a team that did a lot of its rides midweek.

    My team wouldn't turn someone down for not going to a lot of training rides. Which is good for me, life has torpedoed my weekends for the next year or so. At the same time, not going to any training rides is going to mean that as far as your teammates are concerned, at races you're just some guy in the same jersey. I don't think you'd need to go to a ton of training rides to develop more of a relationship though, and if there are regular midweek training crits you're going to, those might even be an acceptable substitute.

    Lots of families on my team too.

    So I'd say, don't ask a general question about all teams - they're all different. Shop around. I bet you can find a team that's a good, or at least the better, fit for you.

  3. #3
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    In road racing, a team is just that. It works together to put someone on the podium. So the other aspects are not important. You can drink and ride without them but come race day you play the role that is given that day. The biggest non-racing benefit is riding to races together.

  4. #4
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    I have to agree with riding with the team prior to racing, as you need to be able to help each other with strengths and weaknesses. If you never ride with the team before races, they will not know where you stand, as far as fitness, and power. The social aspect of the team can be missed, but there are also good info that goes out while enjoying a cold beverage. The main thing about teams, is being involved as much as possible. We all have family, friends, church, and other things that can take priority, you just have to allocate the necessary time for each thing. That does sometimes, mean family first and team later. I dont know about you, but my racing doesnt pay the bills, so it is more of a hobby vice main priority, so there are many things to put into perspective.

  5. #5
    All or Nothing Baby!!!
    Reputation: austincrx's Avatar
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    I'm on a team that basically just races together due to differing schedules. Some times a few of us will train together, mostly we just all do the local week day rides though. A team or club can go from SERIOUS RACING to 'hey want to go mountain biking tomorrow at 5?' I prefer the more serious approach to racing and training, so that's what I've tried to get into. If I wasn't serious about it, I would just find a group of people who share the same level of interest.

    A good friend of mine is on a club team that is mostly just cat4 and 5's and he loves it. No commitment, just for fun and commradarie (did I spell that right?).
    Zoom This!

  6. #6
    The Slow One.
    Reputation: Alaska Mike's Avatar
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    In my area, there are few teams. On those teams, there are few spots for riders. Most teams have mountain, road, and tri riders, that occasionally come together for cross or fatbike season, which further limits the number of road-only slots. Most races in the upper categories are won by guys on teams, but that's more a indication of the skill and dedication of a particular rider than team tactics. In most races, teammates will ride mercenary and chase each other down. Just the nature of the small fields.

    In the lower categories, very few people other than development riders (juniors) are on teams. Most teams won't sign up a person in the lowest levels because their dedication to the sport hasn't really been demonstrated. They usually wait until a rider makes it to the top of the middle classes before they express interest. When you have a limited budget, you try to spend it the best you can.

    Group road rides aren't all that common outside of the bike club recreational division or teams, which limits the intensity options for most people. Team rides can be a closed affair. A lot of this has to do with the lack of suitable roads for larger groups. More than a few riders on a road can create traffic and liability issues.

    And yet after all of that, I've joined a team this year. I don't think it will d much to improve my results. Although I am open to the possibility, I doubt I can be of much use to other riders on the team- since there's only two or three of us (at most) in a given race in my class. I'd like to apply some team tactics in a few of the races, just to make them more interesting, but we'll have to see how we ride this season first. The kit is nice enough I guess, and the semi-notoriety of being a "team rider" is kind of a bonus, but I'm more interested in the adding another element to the racing and training experience.

    So, as you can see, the blanket statement that "you have to join a team" is not exactly universal. Some very good and accomplished riders I know are not affiliated with a team. Joining a "jersey team" won't get you much more than a kit that looks like other people's. Joining a highly regimented team might leave you feeling over-obligated.

    If you're having fun and getting results that match your ability level, I see no reason to join a team. If you have a desire to work for others (or have others work for you) or feel like you're being shut out in races by more organized teams, joining a team might make sense. It's all about you, your goals, and your environment.

    Keep in mind this is supposed to be about having fun. I think even the Pros on this board would agree with me on that point.

  7. #7
    I play for keeps
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzj View Post
    I have to agree with riding with the team prior to racing, as you need to be able to help each other with strengths and weaknesses. If you never ride with the team before races, they will not know where you stand, as far as fitness, and power.....
    I would be able to ride with the team 3 or 4 times a month during the week...is that adequate you think?

  8. #8
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    If you were on my team and I saw you 3-4 times a month, I think I'd see you as a teammate.

    The trick here is to look for a team that has enough of its rides at the times you can make it that you actually do go those few times a month.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by locustfist View Post
    Snip...

    Is it cool to be a part of a team to mainly just race with them and train only occasionally with them? Am I doomed to be the loner at races on the weekend? Advice? Do you race a lot and aren't on a team?
    IMHO yes. As long as you communicate this and everyone understands what's going on. I ride for a pretty loose team. All the guys have been doing this for a long time. Everyone has family and careers that come first. I would be worried about the guy who put cycling before career and family fwiw! Find the right guys who don't take themselves too seriously and you'll have a great year. Best of luck!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    If you were on my team and I saw you 3-4 times a month, I think I'd see you as a teammate.

    The trick here is to look for a team that has enough of its rides at the times you can make it that you actually do go those few times a month.
    I agree! You will find that there are a lot of people just like you on the team. They just jockey around their schedules so they can make a few rides a month. I dont do our team ride every saturday, mainly due to the distance I have to drive to get there. I can start from my house and do this other "club/LBS" ride and get enough miles in and be home at a good time. If I want more training, I usually pull up front the entire 80 miles and it gives me the feeling I worked pretty hard even averaging 19mph and under.

  11. #11
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    The reality is this:

    Riding with a team 3-4 times a month is fairly normal. I only ride with teammates on Saturdays during our main group ride. Other than that I might see them in passing while I'm training by myself during the week (when I'm not on my trainer).

    As for racing...sometimes it helps having teammates, other times, not so much. Some teams are a lot better than others when it comes to using tactics and most are useful if there is a strong rider that can get in breaks and the others sit at the front and try to slow the pace so their teammate can get away (i.e. blocking).

    Some teams practice sprint lead-outs...but the reality is very few times do you ever see a good lead out train unless it's in the CAT 1/2 field. The best I've seen is one teammate stretching the pack with 1k to go and one other teammate giving a lead-out when it comes to the lower categories.

    When it comes to some categories...you may be the only one on your team in it...which happens to me a fair amount in the 40+ Masters 1/2/3 category.

    The best part with most teams is before and after the race...having others to share the experience with, talking about how things went down, warming up under a tent, post race meals, etc.

    No amateur racers really need a team....they just make it more fun
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  12. #12
    I play for keeps
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wookiebiker View Post
    ....

    No amateur racers really need a team....they just make it more fun
    That's what I'm looking for...more fun

  13. #13
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    Well said.

    edit: @wookie

  14. #14
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    Really no need for a team if you have local group rides at your disposal. Although team sponsor discounts can be attractive. I'd say I get a better workout on my group rides than my team rides.

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