1 second. That was the margin between the top step and second place, and overall victory for the masters team at the Merco Cycling Classic. But this is a case where winning didn’t mean finishing first.
I was a late entry to bike racing and my perspective is narrow compared to teammates like Larry, Kevin, Billy and Dean who’ve traded paint at levels I never will. Fortunately they don’t hold my newbieness against me. Their years and years (and years, and years and years) of competitive knowledge is something we all benefit from. However, if rapidly greying hair is any indicator of experience, I take comfort knowing that I'm quickly closing the gap.
Let’s face it: we're masters racers, not pros, and cycling is a lifestyle choice instead of a paycheck. Yet, aside from how they compete, these guys have much to impart about sportsmanship and conducting ourselves professionally on the road. I don’t claim to always be a saint but if my competitiveness boils over, I try to step back and take a page from their book. This too, is something we all benefit from, which Dave Towle summed up nicely with a Facebook comment:
Merco was largely our first opportunity to race and hang out with guys we’ve been on the road with but not alongside as teammates (at least recently) including Don Langley, Bubba Melcher, Jason Walker and Steve Francisco (we look forward to Greg Anderson getting off IR soon). We’re fortunate to have these guys bring even more incredible experience but also a light, fun spirit; I can’t recall laughing so many times at any other race.
While we fell short of our goal to wrap up overall victory at Merco, we got to sync as a team, raced smart and most importantly, had fun. That’s a win in my book.