Cycling is different from other sports in a myriad of different ways. One of the things about professional bike racers that I find the most intriguing is that, although riders ride for trade teams (that are technically based in different places around the world) they live in cycling havens that tend to attract a bunch of different racers from different trade teams that then all ride together every day, get coffee together, have dinner clubs, but when the racing rolls around they are racing against each other.
Tell me, in what other sport do the rival players literally do their training together?
For other team sports (because cycling is a team sport), they live in the same city and have practices together almost daily. Soccer (football…), hockey, basketball, etc, they all train as a team. For cycling, if you find yourself in Girona, Spain you’ll probably spot group rides that consist of 3+ members of all different teams riding out to train together. This is actually super bizarre, if you think about it. You’re letting your competitors know exactly how strong you are, what form you’re in.
The riders themselves don’t think of it that way. Everyone is friends off the bike. There are classic cycling BFF’s that ride for different teams, one that comes to mind was the iconic duo of Loren Rowney and Carlee Taylor that gave me serious jealousy feels following them both on social media. In theory, training can only fill you in on so much of someones fitness and most riders prefer to do intervals solo, however, the fact that rivals will spend hours and hours joking and laughing together and then go to races and be fierce competitors is one of the true beauties of cycling. And it’s not just the women. The men also have buddies on different teams who ride together on the reg. There are some guys who will be just as happy to see a friend on a rival team win as their own teammates. Some of this I think comes down to that there are a lot of races throughout the year and someone new will win tomorrow, so it’s not a massive loss.
Of course, everyone would rather their own team win, but I still get all kinds of feels when my favorite humans on other teams win races. At the end of the day, in this professional circus of bike racing, we’re all on the ride together. It’s hard to have friends outside of the sport because of all the traveling and time away from home, so cyclists find friends in each other regardless of the colour of the jersey.
We’re brought together by a mutual love of two wheels, pain in the legs, and sun on our faces. We also tend to have other things in common, since the sport attracts a specific type of mind. Conversations in the peloton barely touch on the sport itself or gossip, but rather talk about life, deep topics from the heart, and most of the time food. Personally, I came to this sport for the bike but I’ve stayed because I’ve found a community of people like no other, regardless of what teams they ride for. Some of my closest friends ride for opposing teams, and some ride for the same team as I do. There are riders who I know from living in Girona who I’m not teammates with but dream of some day having the same colours on our backs and going to the same training camps.
It’s an incredible sport, cycling, really unlike any other.