Even though LiveByCycling is still in its infancy, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds. Currently, we have over 30 team members. We have six TTT teams racing in five different zones. We’re taking podium positions in all CATs in some of the best race series on Zwift including Fierce Felines and Mad Mondays. And it doesn’t stop there! In the month of May, we had 5 teammates who moved up in their respective ZwiftPower CATs!
A bit of backstory
LiveByCycling is based on a concept Becky and I had over a decade ago when we started a podcast by the same name. Through my life experience as a breast cancer survivor and survivor of clergy sexual abuse, and Becky’s as a primary caregiver, we discovered early on how cycling was an integral part of healing. Although the podcast was put on hiatus, the concept wasn’t forgotten.
Several months ago, we decided it was time. We launched TEAM LiveByCycling on ZwiftPower. As long time business owners, our plan was to build an infrastructure before actively recruiting teammates. This would include a website that would explain LiveByCycling’s philosophy, showcase our team members and TTT teams, educate new teammates, and provide a wide variety of resources for all. Additionally, we knew we needed an efficient method for team communication both off the bike and during races. A Discord server was the perfect solution, providing text chat and voice channels.
As we all know, life often supersedes best-laid plans. The team rapidly grew before much of the infrastructure was in place. For the past several months, it’s been quite a juggling act for me – trying to actively stay engaged with our new team, while spending an inordinate amount of time building our new website and setting up the Discord server. While there are a still a couple of features I will be adding over the next month, I’m happy to say – the website is complete!
I’m one who’s always grateful for the ‘silver linings’ of life experiences. TEAM LiveByCycling is no exception! Not being able to build the infrastructure prior to launching the team has afforded me valuable insight, and has guided my direction in our organizational structure as we move forward.
What we’ve learned
Often we make decisions in life based on what we are familiar with, instead of taking the time to explore better options. And while my experience on other Zwift teams is admittedly limited, the way TTT teams were handled on my previous team was a free-for-all. And while that strategy may serve some teams well, it’s not a good fit for LiveByCycling.
Our concept of “healing the road rash of life” is based on celebrating individual strengths and recognizing the power that comes from supporting one another collectively. This includes the ‘umbrella’ LiveByCycling team, and our individual TTT teams.
Over the past months, Becky and I have participated first hand. We’ve also had the unique opportunity to step-back and see the big picture. We’ve watched our various TTT teams. We’ve seen what’s working – and what’s not working. And we’ve hosted several behind-the-scenes experiments.
The magic we’ve seen take place within our TTT teams is amazing! The key take away we witnessed was consistency:
- the value of racing on the same team each week
- a team Captain serving as your go-to person
- riding on a team that is at a level that best suits you
- the power of team building through small group interaction
- the magic of women coming together, encouraging and supporting one another
Individual self-esteem improved. Individual skills as a rider improved. The overall skills of the TTT team improved. But most importantly, the camaraderie that ensued boosted our ‘fun-factor’ to an all-time new level.
Designing a quality and efficient website relies on organizational skills. The better you are at seeing the logical order in things, the better the end product will be. While I was designing the LiveByCycling website, certain things became clear. I’d build a component based on how we’ve been doing things instead of evaluating whether or not it made sense. More often than not, it became a stumbling block. This realization forced me to step back, reevaluate and ask important organizational questions:
- why does it take so much time to organize TTT teams each week?
- how can this process be simplified and more efficient?
My first response was to automate. I developed several iterations of registration systems to automate some of the behind the scenes team placement and to remind teammates to register.
But the process was still an ordeal. So I asked…what’s wrong with this picture?
We’ll use a classroom analogy. You’re a parent of a child who goes to the-school-that-makes-no-sense. At this school, students are in a different classroom each week – because it’s always been that way. Each weekend, the principal calls you to ask you which classroom you want your child to be in the upcoming week. Some parents forget to reply, so their kid ends up staying home. Others reply promptly.
Each week your child interacts with different kids, but never gets the opportunity to build lasting relationships or the value gained from working together with classmates as a cohesive groups. He/she are never with the same group of kids long enough for this to take place.
It’s a broken system.
…was right there in front of me the whole time. Teams should be…teams!
noun: a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport
verb: come together as a team to achieve a common goal
Putting it all to good use
Now, it’s time to use what we learned both from the human aspect as well as an organizational perspective.
Given the variety of rider fitness levels, and time differences inherit in an international team, this is the structure we’ve decided on.
- Frappe (CAT A/B Teams)
- LiveByCyclingFast: Northern Hemisphere
- LiveByCyclingFierce: Southern Hemisphere
- Latte (CAT B/C Teams)
- LiveByCyclingStrong: Northern Hemisphere
- LiveByCyclingLoud: Southern Hemisphere
- Mocha (CAT C/D Teams)
- LiveByCyclingBold: Northern Hemisphere
- LiveByCyclingWild: Southern Hemisphere
With a northern and southern hemisphere team in each race category, where does this leave our Latte Team LiveByCyclingFree? Short term it will continue as such racing in Zone 1 as long as there are three riders who want to race. All riders must be on TEAM LiveByCycling – we will no longer be accepting outside riders. There is also the possibility that LiveByCyclingLoud and LiveByCycling Free may merge. We’ll know better over the next few months as we ramp up recruitment.
The next phase
Starting this week, each of you will be asked to choose a team that best suits you based on the CAT levels and time zones described above. You will only race in one TTT each week, on one team – your team. If you have a schedule that varies and you can’t commit to one team, you can participate as a ‘sub’ – racing on a team in which you meet the minimum CAT level requirements.
So what happens as you improve, or find the team you’re racing on is no longer a good fit for you? Not a problem. We have a system in place on the website where you can easily request a team transfer. As long as you meet the CAT requirements for the team, and they have an opening – you’re good to go.
Starting…NOW! We are actively recruiting. Cindy Schnee is serving as TEAM LiveByCycling’s official recruiter. But ALL of you are encouraged to recruit.
When looking at ZwiftPower after you’ve raced, take a minute to see if someone you raced with would be a good fit for our team. If so, pop into the Zwift companion app and send them a message. “Hey! I just raced with you! You did fantastic! I think you’d be a great fit for TEAM LiveByCycling. Let me know if you’re interested and I’d be happy to send details.”
Cindy – on the other hand, will be handling specific recruiting. Becky, Angela and I will be asking her to fill specific gaps in the existing teams. For example, right now we’re one or two riders away from making our Northern Hemisphere Frappe team LiveByCyclingFast a reality. So Cindy’s priority will be to focus on A/B riders. After this is complete, we’ll let her know the next gap to fill. The goal is for each of our teams to have a full contingent of 8 riders.
I’m fortunate to be riding on LiveByCyclingBold, which is the first of our teams to meet this goal. This past week, we rode our first race with 8 riders. It was fantastic!
One of the experiments we’ve been conducting is coaching – a strong rider hosts a meetup recon ride with a TTT team each week, as the coach. Kelly Rose has taken on this role with team LiveByCyclingBold each Tuesday. It has not only made us better riders – it has created a unique bond. We all affectionately refer to her now as Coach Kelly.
We would love for each of our TTT teams to have this experience. So we’re asking for volunteers. If you’re currently what we consider ‘between teams’ rider (i.e. your TTT race is a bit easy for you, but you’re not riding at the level to move up a CAT) we’d love it if you could lead a recon ride with your teammates and provide coaching experience at the same time. How do you know if this is for you? First, you’d like to pay-it-forward by coaching. Second, when your team is putting in a hard effort and can barely talk – but you can – you’re a good candidate.
A second option is to volunteer to coach a team that is lower in CAT than the team you’re racing on. For example, a rider on a Frappe team could volunteer to coach a Latte team. A rider on a Latte team could coach one of our Mocha teams. During the recon, you’ll coach, and on race day, you’re welcome to be their ‘team car’ on Discord motivating and guiding them during the race.
I’m sure there will be many. This is a ton of information. Feel free to direct message me on Discord!
Becky and I look forward to our next stage…and many more to come!
– LiveByCyling co-founder