Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Racing, Trash Talking & Bonding All Go Hand in Hand

We have a lot of great distributors worldwide, but none longer than Outdoor Gear Canada. They are our 'neighbors to the north' and just true friends and partners. When we started the Unbreakable Bonds series, it was only natural that we ask them to participate. Rob White jumped at the opportunity, but he wanted to wait a few weeks until one special event that bonds him to cycling each summer. His story, in his own words is below....

My name is Rob White, I am the VP of Sales for Outdoor Gear Canada (OGC). We have been distributing Kryptonite products in Canada for the past 30 years.

Although I have many unbreakable bonds with cycling the one that stands out for me is the unbreakable bond I have with the 24 Hours of Summer Solstice.

First off, I do not consider myself a bike racer, but I have been in my share of races over the last 3 decades. Most of my riding is done solo. Usually first thing in the morning on the quiet country roads that surround my home.

During the summer months there are dozens of worthy races to take part in, but far and away my favorite is the 24 hours of Summer Solstice in Albion Hills (one hour north of Toronto). This is the largest 24 Hour Race in North America with more than 2000 racers participating. Since the inception of this race OGC has been a keen sponsor as well as competing as a corporate team. Although we are always looking for a top 10 finish, the real race is between the members of our own team. Who will be hot, who will be not and who will go home with bragging rights for the next 12 months?

This past weekend (June 23 & 24) marked the 10th anniversary of this legendary race. Not only have we competed in this race for the past 10 years but our team has more or less stayed the same. The team members are a mix of OGC sales reps, family members and friends. Although we are very supportive of each other's efforts there is always a fair amount of trash talking that goes on prior to the race (I must admit to being a bit of a ring leader in this department).

Although I like to compete with everyone on our team there is always a couple of team members who I like to focus my attention on. This usually begins in the fall with me serving them notice on my plans to destroy them at next years event. This sort of trash talk never goes unanswered and it isn't long before the game of cat and mouse begins.

There are several different approaches to this game. Some like to keep their cards close to their chests and simply let their riding do the talking. Others prefer to try to psyche out there competition, this includes commentary on training tactics, talking up big rides, weight loss and anything else you can think of that might get under your victim's skin (the psyche out is one of my specialties).

The side effect of all of this posturing is the simple fact that if you are going to "talk the talk" you are going to have to "walk the walk". This means logging lots of miles and doing everything you can to stay in shape. I find this very motivating and try to use it to my advantage.

When the 24 Hours of Summer Solstice finally arrives the trash talking stops and it is time to show the team what you've got. The 24 hour race is a relay race, so everyone has to wait their turn. If you happen to be the 7th or 8th rider you have to wait most of the day before your turn comes up. For me this is the most difficult part of the race. As the hours go by the lap times start to come in and you begin to see what you are up against. Before long my turn comes up and I am off to the transition zone to wait for our next team mate to come in from their lap. Then I hear our team number and then my name and I know it is now my turn to take the baton.

Forget about taking it easy on the corse, it's time to drop the hammer and give it everything you've got. It's time to check into the house of pain. As the minutes tick by your legs and your lungs burn like never before, but there is no time to ease up on the pedals. Instead you have to put your head down and push on. By the time you hit the 5 KM to go mark you are almost delirious but there is no time to slow down, instead you have to reach deep down inside and give it everything you've got. Towards the end of the lap your legs are screaming and you feel like you are about to blow, but you have to keep pushing until the end. Finally the finish line is in sight and you know the madness is about to end. As you cross the line your next team mate takes the baton and heads off on another lap.

Although you can barely stay on your feet, there is still no time to rest. You have to boogie over to the timing tent to check your time. That is when the truth is told, How have you done compared to your other team mates as well as your own past efforts? Then it's back to the camp site to share your lap time with the group and to start preparing for your next lap.
In the end you would think that the most important part of all of this is who had the fast lap times and who did not, but that is not the case. The best part of this race is simply getting together with good friend for a fun filled weekend of riding. The "unofficial inter-team competition has had one great side effect. We are all in better shape today than we were 10 years ago when this race started!

Thanks Kryptonite for letting me share my unbreakable bond story, but I better get off my key board and head out for a ride, next years 24 Hours of Summer Solstice is only 361 days away.

Rob White

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