In addition to competing in my race this weekend, I was spectating and cheering during every other race as well. I was wearing my team jacket, so I was easily identified. In one of the other races I had three teammates competing. As the racers went past us on the first lap, a competitor from another team, who was at the back of the pack said to me, “One of your teammates is a douche bag.”
I knew the three guys competing in that race very well and each one is the kind of guy to stop on the side of the road and help a stranger change a flat tire. I also knew they were each experienced racers who knew the rules and etiquette of cyclocross. I didn’t feel any “us versus them” emotions, but instead thought, “You must have really screwed up to be blaming one of those guys.”
While I do subscribe to the whole autonomy and affiliation needs theory, I think my team does have a defining trait; character. I feel honored to claim these guys as my team and hope they feel the same about me. There are no little league parents screaming at their kids to win at all costs. We don’t win a lot of races, but we do compete and we do have fun. At all times we strive to respect the sport and others.
When someone wearing our colors rode too close to a pedestrian last summer our president received a phone call. He promptly communicated to the whole team a reminder to honor the Maglia Bruno and remember that when you do you represent the entire team.
A post-race email exchange confirmed my belief. There had been a crash at the first corner and our rider was where he was supposed to be, and the other rider was out of control and paid the price with epidermal currency.
I understand crashes, and I understand excitement and adrenalin, so the emotional reaction is easily explained. Besides, if you don’t think we are a bunch of nice guys and gals, we will find where you park at night and slice your tires.