By Leonard Van Drunen, CAT 4 Road Cyclist
Colorburst was yesterday, marking the one year anniversary of when and where I met Jim Allan. No surprise, he invited me to do some riding with Athletic Mentors. Since then I have become part of the team, and accomplished my 2014 cycling goal of registering with USA Cycling, completing ten Cat 5 races and thus becoming a Cat 4 Masters racer in August. I am very pleased that Team OAM NOW has supported that goal. Thank you teammates!
But why do I ride so much? And why do I ride with other people… with a team… with Team OAM NOW? Of course riding with Team OAM NOW is fun, a sort of mild hedonism, but I think it is more than that. I like fun, but more than that, I want to become a better cyclist. Riding with a team helps me be a better cyclist. Not only do my team members encourage me, but they also push me and show me how to be faster, stronger, more durable and safer. Even with this goal on the road, on this goal to being a better cyclist, there’s a much larger journey I’m on that is also helped by riding and being a member of Team OAM NOW.
My deeper desire is to be a more virtuous person. I can hear you asking, wondering, how riding with Team OAM NOW could possibly help me become a more virtuous person; I think it can.
First, I learn fortitude from my teammates on a long ride, longer than I would do solo. When I am facing a strong frontal cross wind, I don’t turn around as quickly as I would on my own,when I have teammates modelling fortitude. This determination, this internal fortitude, is definitely useful in other areas of my life. My teammates also model patience. An inconvenient tubular flat, when we really just want to ride, Dan Gauthier helps us hone our patience. When Steve Bucella’s pedal freezes up, we patiently ride into Ionia with him and wait for him to get a new pedal. On one ride, which should have been no-drop, we were pirates and dropped a team mate who was having a slow day; later, as a team, we reflected on how we failed to be virtuously patient. We did not use those words, but it is, clearly, what we all meant. My humility gets training when I race and get beat by older and younger guys alike. When, in my first Master’s race, I was off in the back, all by myself, for six laps in front of the King’s Day Crit crowd, I learned a little bit about what it feels like to be weaker, or slower, or simply left behind. I continue to learn how to be more humble by riding a bike!
Love. Let’s talk about the virtue of love. My favorite contemporary philosopher, Nicholas Wolterstorff, defines love as “seeking the flourishing of another as an end in itself.” Can riding with Team OAM NOW help me love others more? I think so. I am learning about this type of love from my teammates, and perhaps will show it more and more. I experience love when Jim Allan invites me to go riding with him, even though he just met me a few minutes ago. I am loved in this way when Marie Dershem stops during a race and gives me one of her CO2 tubes. I receive love when Larry Strayhorn sells me his old mountain bike at a good price. I am loved when Bob Schultz gives me one of his old Yakama bike mounts, to keep. When Mike Krywanski goes out of his way to teach me the ropes of racing; he is loving me. I feel this kind of love when Terry Ritter leads me out in the Miller Energy Crit sprint finish. I am loved when, every time I see Greg Neagos on a bike, he greets me with a smile, asks how I am doing, and takes the time to listen to my reply.
Yes. I know cycling with Team OAM NOW can help me be a better cyclist and a more virtuous person. I learn virtues from my teammates, and try to put some of it into practice off my bike as well. That is one of the many reasons I ride with a team, this team.
Thank you teammates!