Tuesday Coffee Talk - Team management/mismanagement

Coffee talk Tuesday returns this week to a topic close to some racers and their teams. Tuesday Coffee Talk allows all of use to engage in community related topics and share your 2 cents worth

What are a racers team responsibilities?

It's that time of year when many race teams are planning out their schedule, going on team training rides and start to engage in team/racer responsibilities. I've been on quite a few teams and one thing is clear from my experience, every team is very different, some just want you to wear the kit and that is good enough, others have strict expectations like do these 15 events, play role x (not just participate), raise X amount of $$ from sponsors, ride X equipement.... On the flip side riders often expect race fees paid for, equipement sponsors, quality care from the sponsored bike shop....

And the above items can and do cause many inter-team fights, guys take over, become dictators, inner groups secretly start up and the inner circle get 90% of the attention or winning members never get the attention they have earned. Sponsors question where their money has gone when all they ever see are result emails from team captains, etc.

What problems have you experienced with team management OR as a manager what have you had to deal with? Ground rules, no team names, rider names or sponsors.

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40 Comments

Hearding of Cats

I have found in my short time organizing a team and a race that running a big team (45 participants) is like herding cats (as a good friend of mine always says). It is really hard, time consuming and a pain in the ass. So, what I have moved towards is having a small group of "Elite" riders take on most/all of the responsibility of producing results that our sponsors want to see. In most cases every sponsor likes to see good race results, however it has become clear that amateur bike racing results do not translate into people spending money at our sponsors. What our sponsors want to see is people buying their product, so the focus has turned towards social media and events targeted at raising awareness of our sponsors, these events are largely off the bike. With that said the Elite riders, due to their commitment to putting in the time and energy, receive a very large portion of the sponsorship $ and perks. This part of the team is run like a business. To get paid you have to work.

For the other large majority of the team we have a different person who runs the team. This person is the team president and is as I see it more of a “culture” shaper/facilitator/motivator.
Most of the guys on the team just have to buy a kit, race a little, show up for some group rides and have a good time. This is in fact what most guys and gals seem to want to do. No major strings attached, lots of fun. And to this point I always say “The culture of a team is determined by the people who show up on a regular basis”. If you want it to be a certain way then you have to show up and create it. If you don’t like it, then you are likely not showing up enough.

ah, 'elite' rears it's head

i did not think the 'elite' term would show up so soon! and in the first post, too.
what i have just experienced with a newer local 'team' was a statement that members would be divided into club vs. elite, where the elites(never defined to us) received better deals than the club guys(assumed by me to be the ones who just want to have fun by buying a kit, do a couple races, etc. as stated above) yet a rep of the major sponsor comes forward to let us know how the sponsor 'cares little for results at office park crits)' and 'really gets the best exposure when we ride together, courteously of course, at major non-competitive events like e-rock, the triple by-pass, ride the rockies'.
so, following that, the team leader goes right back into 'who is going to what races/we really want a team presence at dead dog/salida/e-rock twilight crit/who can work for other team mates in other categories at some races?/kits are $$ plus dues are more $/if you FINISH x amount of races you get double your dues back/etc. all of this emphasis on race crap when the sponsor just said they don't care about the racing!
i came to the conclusion -where is the benefit of spending all of this $$ to have the same clothes as some of my friends and a lot of people i don't know to commit to races that i may not feel like doing on race day, leaving family behind after training countless hours, getting a marginal pricing deal at a shop that i don't even care much for. i have never seen most team members after the initial meeting since so many specialize in what they want to do on a bike (winter park only or CCTT's or MSC or no crits or hillclimbs)
i walked out and will go unattached this season, letting no one down except myself if i decide to stay in bed!
plus, my last team would never divulge where the money went! $150-$225 dues(always varied from year to year without good explanation) for a bib short and a s/s jersey after putting on 2 races too! shouldn't a team be completely transparent in terms of the budget? i think some of these team organizers like getting a bunch of excited 4's to sign up and buy kits while pocketing the excess.
'weee....you are now an elite team member! thanks for the check....'
beware, have fun on your own while racing, seek out guys that actually go and ride when they SAY they are going to ride and mostly, don't forget that we are ALL hacks just trying to put the hurt on our friends.....with some beers, too.

Amateur elite?

It has been my experience that the most down to earth teams have sponsors that are more team members and friends of the team who wish to contribute to help the sport more than real sponsors looking for genuine marketing. Let's face it, amateur bike racing is a fringe sport and the gentleman is right, office park crits don't generate real revenue for sponsors. Nor do training rides or most charity/fun rides IMHO. I would personally rather be on a team that has a solid group of guys who want to really be there and ride with each other without the mentality of a job/duty. I have no problem paying for my own kits and travel etc. if that's what it means to make it less of a job and more fun. I have a job, and a family. I bike race because it's my passion, but I really don't need a hobby that feels like a job. I respect that some teams want to make it a lot more structured and even understand why. That's all good. But for many of us old masters guys that may not be the right fit.

Having just walked away from

Having just walked away from a local team after finally hearing the overdue 'deal' offered us for the 2012 season, I cannot wait to create some havoc in my master's class this season. It would be nice to have some friends that wear the same clothing during some races but even if we don't we will still all ride together. In my few years of racing the idea of larger amateur teams in road bike racing has hardly ever worked out for anyone involved. Designating one guy as the priority within a race rarely works even for the pros. Sending one guy off with each attack and waiting to see which one sticks while your team mates rest back in the pack is the simplest and most equal way of approaching team tactics most of the time. Fun is number one!

All myself and a few other

All myself and a few other people were expecting for shelling out hundreds of dollars for kits and dues was a feeling of friendship and camaraderie from this new group. We knew a few people but mostly these were new guys to us. The guy above stated that he was on 4 teams in 15 years and has finally found a good group to ride and race with. That is a lot of clothing to amass and time spent with folks that he never really bonded with.
It did not feel right at this first meeting and we walked after weighing all sides of the entire 'deal'. I cannot commit to a team/club where, at the very first meeting, I get a feeling that I will not ever be good friends with the guys running the club. Pretty simple!

If your sponsors want

If your sponsors want exposure at RTR, E-Rock, etc... and am not saying that's a bad idea, they should sponsor a club, not a team. Any marketing guy will tell you there is no ROI from sponsoring small amateur racing teams. To sponsor a team and then expect them to do club-like events/activities is a recipe for disappointment.

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