A powerful lesson I learned about high performance teams from
competing on 3 World Championship Team Time Trial Teams is….
It’s ALL about the TEAM!
Before you say, “Duh! Of course, it’s about the team!” give me a chance to explain. If you don’t glean great wisdom about high functioning teams, you'll learn some bike racing strategies so you can sound smart talking with your cycling buddies. It’s Tour de France season after all!
Description of The World Championship Team Time Trial:
A team of 4 riders work together to cover 50 Kilometers as fast as they possibly can. The winning team completes the 50K in the fastest time! (If this description falls flat, I’ve added a video that offers further explanation and visuals. And you get to see the 1990 team I was a part of race for the Silver!)
Let’s move beyond mere logic and talk about what it takes to WIN!
It makes sense, a lot of sense, that the coaches representing the United States Cycling Federation would want to select strong riders for the World Championship Team Time Trial Team. I’m here to tell you that strong riders aren’t enough to make a winning team.
The following example is why strong isn’t good enough when the intention is to WIN.
If or when a strong rider just does their thing, rides their pace, shines where they are strong, and doesn’t consider the pace and plan best for the entire team, this creates a formula for failure. This type of racing greatly affects the ability of the team to establish an efficient rhythm and speed for the duration of the race.
For instance, fast accelerations break up the aerodynamic formation and each rider then has to exert more energy to reestablish the team’s formation. This sort of racing only tax the riders and leaves them less able to ride at a fast speed the entire race. In this example the “strong” rider, just made it about what they could do without consideration of the team. This sort of move is self-focused, and slows the team over time.
A strong team rider, can absolutely do more work for the team! If they have the strength, they should use it! The difference is, the strong team rider would have their efforts serve the greater whole, THE TEAM, not just their personal strengths.
If a team rider is having a great day and feeling strong they would bring the speed up in a steady manner, remaining mindful of how their actions are affecting the entire team. They can also stay at the front, in the wind for a longer period of time. This creates a draft for their teammates behind them. This draft offers less air resistance the riders behind them must pedal though. In other words, the teammate in the daft aren’t exerting nearly the amount of effort the rider in the front is.
It’s common in a team time trial that each member has their time of having their strong moments in the race. For one member it might be at the beginning of the race. For another it could be the middle. The other two might bring it to the finish line strong. The truth is, you generally don’t get to know how it going to shake out until you’re racing. What’s important is each team member knows what to do for the team when they are feeling strong!
The team focused strong rider is a team member that helps to create victories. A self-focus strong rider…well they’re on teams that also participated.
1. What team are you a part of? Business, family, sport, whatever! If there are more than one of you working to make something happen, it’s likely a team effort.
2. What is the intention of the team? What are you working towards? It could be a work project, a social movement or a family endeavor.
3. Is your contribution to the team, strengthening the team? How do you know?
4. Could it be possible that your efforts are costing your team efficiency?
One way to think about this tricky question is to ask yourself, “when I make an effort in support of the team, do I consider how it will affect each member and the overall dynamic of a team?”
If you find something to clean up or touch up, great! Bettering your game is what leads to victories!