Being Human is a Team Sport

Being human is a team sport. Sure you need to pull your own weight, but you pull your own weight better when you pull with others.  Nobody ever does anything well alone.

Take the sport of cycling.

An interesting sign along the road in the Alabama countryside.

An interesting sign along the road in the Alabama countryside.

It’s seen as an individual sport but it’s far from it. Last year, I rode in the Hot Hundred Century, part of the Alabama Backroads Century Series. The ride starts on the campus of the University of Alabama, leads out of the town of Tuscaloosa and into the surrounding country for a circuit of 103 miles. Some friends invited me to join them and I did. When we rode out of town, we formed into a “pace line,” a group of cyclists riding front wheel to back wheel. When you’re in a pace line, the person in front is getting all the wind resistance, but in the process punches a hole in the air so that the people immediately behind the front guy don’t have any wind resistance. They don’t have to work anywhere near as hard as the guy in front. So, the guy in front expends a great deal of energy to keep the pace up, then peals off to the side and lets the next guy in line pass him. The new front guy then works harder for a while. The former front rider subsequently drops back and cuts in at the rear of the line, into the dead air space created by the rest of the team. He or she can then keep up the pace with a lot less effort, even get some rest.

What the pace line looked like before the Big Crash on Stage 3 of the 2015 Tour de France.

What the pace line looked like before the Big Crash on Stage 3 of the 2015 Tour de France.

Riders and their bicycles fill the road after a fall during the 159,5 km (99 miles) third stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Anvers to Huy, Belgium, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard - RTX1J8WN

Riders and their bicycles fill the road after a fall during the 159,5 km (99 miles) third stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Anvers to Huy, Belgium, July 6, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard – RTX1J8WN

Of course, if you’re riding in a pace line, you have to pay attention to the other riders. If you lose focus, you could miss an adjustment in the speed of the rider in front of you and if you clip his tire, you’ll crash, and take the next few riders with you! Something like that happened on Stage 3 of the Tour de France this year taking out scores of racers in a few seconds, including the Yellow Jersey (the race leader at that point). Danger, indeed, lurks in a pace line.

Not just danger, though, results from riding close to your team mates. When my team mates and I rode back onto the campus of the University of Alabama after 103 miles through the countryside, we’d averaged almost 18 miles an hour. That’s not bad for a team with at least two 60-years old guys on it. When I ride by myself during the week, my best average is around 16 mph, give or take a few tenths. And I’m usually pretty much spent after 18-20 miles. With my team, though, I sustained almost 18 mph over 103 miles. Teams make a difference!

My cycling buddies who always make it easier and more pleasant to ride my bike.

My cycling buddies who always make it easier and more pleasant to ride my bike.

With our Support Team effort, we practice that basic principle of living. We can go better in a “pace line.” We can go easier and much farther. Sure, if we don’t pay attention, we can trip each other up. But we can learn to pay attention to the pace of our team mates and as we all pull together, we discover that we’ve covered more ground than we ever imagined.

So, don’t try to “ride” alone. It’s not only okay to ask for help, the rest of us could use a few more team mates in our pace line. We’ll all go easier and further when we pull together.

  1 comment for “Being Human is a Team Sport

  1. Blanche
    September 29, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    True, so true. God did make us social animals for a reason, didn’t he?

    Like

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