Wheeling & Dealing
56“Van Gilder deflected her success, and credited her teammates. ‘This is a team sport and I wouldn’t be here without their support.’” Laura van Gilder, Pro Cyclist
Van Gilder has survived nearly two decades of ever-changing sponsorship typical of an under-resourced women’s peloton to ride for well-stocked successful squads. She has a wicked sprint but her warmth toward peers and rivals makes her perhaps a perfect example of race politician. Beyond her sought-after winning ways, for years she had an uncanny ability to appear on next year’s best roster.
Riders who are wooed and pursued play politics as much as riders pursuing and wishing for team spots. Tact and diplomacy go a long way; little digs and derogatory remarks are remembered. One never knows when a sure-thing team will sink in this sport. It pays to work the teams as much it pays to learn team work. Not to be confused with dishonesty or manipulation, working the teams means really learning who people are and perhaps going so far as to find out what they care about and what they need.
Simple conversations and short encounters may be enough to be remembered during this season when directors are looking at who’s who like a reference biographer. In a community this tight, networking has many advantages from employment opportunities to training and travel-sharing. The simple act of introductions and greetings goes a long way toward gathering and giving competitive intelligence.
It’s a myth to wait for a perceptive director to notice your potential and cull you out of the pack to make your career. It’s true this does sometimes occur, but why not increase the odds? If looking for a job in engineering for example, one wouldn’t just enter exhibitions and expect work to be seen. An engineer would apply for jobs, send resumes, utilize headhunters, answer ads, make calls, and interview. Racing well is only half of wheeling and dealing, the other half involves a little campaigning, namely camaraderie.
Prayer for Team Politics
“Step out of the traffic!
Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” 57Psalm 46:7
We acknowledge good politics is nothing more than good will that steps across an aisle seeking consensus. We pray for strong interpersonal interactions in cycling.
Ponder Do the decision-makers know me? Affirm I want to know everyone in my sphere. Watch who’s new and say hello.
56“Top cyclists excited for Tour de Leelanau,” by Chris Olson for Leelanau Enterprise posted September 14, 2007 on www.leelanaunews.com
57The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson