The big reason why I'm excited about next year is that I've been invited to join a new team. Switching teams is something I've not done before. Good thing, since I've only been on a team for three years and if I was going onto my third team in that time, well, that wouldn't speak at all well to my consistency then, would it?
This isn't a change that I undertake lightly, and certainly not with any malice or ill will or anything even approaching that. Had this opportunity not come along, I would happily have stayed and been happy for who knows how long, especially since the one thing about NCVC that I really didn't dig (meeting team mates while staging for starts) really goes away once you hit Cat 3. And I was psyched to once again race with some people whose upgrades had prevented me from racing with for a while. NCVC takes a lot of digs from a lot of people - for sending a horde of riders to Cat 5 and 4 races, and for whatever else. It's kind of like the club should be proud of these barbs. The club is tremendously welcoming to new riders and racers, and does an incredible volume of educating and supporting that new blood. I was that new blood not that long ago, and I know that I always felt well supported. Jeff Watts deserves most of the credit for this. On pretty much every Saturday throughout the winter, the guy is out there freezing his nards off and running the Saturday clinics for all and sundry. His dedication to that is unbelievable. I always tried to put my oar in the water on the team's behalf (I actually did wear a shitload of hats and do a ton of random stuff), but there are a lot of people whose contributions to the team I wouldn't have superseded in 30 years of trying. Jeff's one of them.
The club also hosts a huge number of races - 4 this year. That's more than certain clubs have ever hosted. Easily 1000 people rode in an NCVC race in 2009. The variety of the races is awesome too. You have the office park circuit race, the spring classic, the Lombardy/hilly Worlds-esque road race, and a great cyclo-cross race. There's no way that I would have even considered trying to put Lost River together without the human resources that I had behind me. There are plenty of people who are well known as contributors to the scene and whose praises are widely sung, but two people who don't get a lot of wide spread recognition - Mike Laker and Jason Trust - have done a ton for bike racing in MABRA this year. They're incredible guys, and without people like them doing what they do, there'd be no races. Or there'd be races, but they'd suck. One of the big things that I'm psyched about with the new team is that we have some good plans for putting on races and helping out with some other races that we were heavily involved with on our old teams. I don't know how teams who don't run races think they're doing anything but freeloading. NCVC sure as hell isn't, and the new joint has no plans to be either.
Telling people sucked. There were a lot of people who I had to tell one on one, directly. Then there were a lot of people who I broke the news to in small groups, either because they were people I raced with a lot or they were involved with Lost River or just because they were significant people on the team. Once a few people hear, then the grapevine gets going and I didn't want anyone to hear it through rumor or any other way that would give them anything other than the right story, delivered the right way. I'm actually kind of lucky that Sunday's weather sucked and the team ride was canceled. There were some people who knew and some people I hadn't been able to tell yet. There's no grapevine like an off season team ride. I guess it runs the usual gamut of most people were excited for me and supportive, some people were I guess a bit disappointed, some people claimed to have known what was up from the instant the formation of the new team was announced (which continues my streak of never being the first to get ANY news), and some people are pretty 'whatever' about it. There were a few bellwether people whose support for my decision was wicked helpful, people who I have a lot of respect for and whose respect I hope I've earned and would very much like to keep. Then there was a group that doesn't really race too much at all and this doesn't change a damn thing between us, which is also cool.
So what pulled me away? The first thing is that I'm a builder and a tinkerer. The opportunity came up to be involved with building a team from scratch, based on good premises and an attractive philosophy. I dig that shit. The second is that I was ready for a smaller team, and one where we're all going to be "the new guy." I'm sure that hierarchies will develop along the way in a bunch of different things (and I would be smoking more meth than Andre Agassi if I thought anything other than that I'd be at the bottom of the pecking order on the road - these guys have game), but for now there's a lot of enthusiasm and good ideas. I have a pretty good sense of 100% of the guys, some of whom I've been friends with for a while, some of whom I've had less contact with but know I like, and some who I'd never heard of before. I think we're all right now just psyched to help build and be a part of something good and fun and productive. The third thing was that the architect of the whole shebang is someone worth getting involved with. He shares my philosophy that the first mission of any undertaking is that it should be great, whatever it is - none of this "ahh, we'll just throw it together and make shit up as we go along." There will be times when we've got to do that, fo sho, but we set out with a well designed plan to accomplish our goals in a good and hopefully stylish way. We've had some neat stuff come out of the crap we'd been doing together, and that counts for a lot. I guess the last thing is that I was wicked psyched to be picked. That always counts for something, although whoever it was that said he'd never belong to a club that would have him as a member comes to mind a lot these days.
So therein lies a lot of the motivation for trying real hard to not suck come next spring. This is the kind of carrot that will help keep me motivated while I'm trying to just plain work hard to get better this winter.
The interview with Avery went viral. It was great. The kid's a stud, and I'm really happy that people got to hear a bit of what's on his mind since he's pretty mum in the day to day bit. There are some other good ones coming up, too.
All right, that was long enough.