What I Learned About Teamwork from a 447 Mile Bike Ride

Published: June 30, 2017

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Recently I participated in Ride the Rockies 2017—a 447 mile bike ride across seven days. To complete our mileage, we biked about 3-6 hours each day, with a total elevation gain of approximately 32,337′.  I was on the trip with several members of my cycling team, Boulder Orthopedics, and a few people that we just met.  We all worked together as a “team” during this event.

Here is a map of our route:

 

It was an intense week full of beautiful scenery, physical endurance, and most of all, teamwork. Throughout the week, I noticed three important aspects of teamwork that also apply to professional environments:

Collaborate and Communicate

Since we traveled in a group on bikes, we had to face the logistics of transporting our bags from one location to the next. We also had to coordinate meals for the eight people in our group.  Relationship building skills were definitely being exercised each day!

Everyone helped each other with these practicalities. We grabbed each other’s bags and brought them to the next location, if necessary. We pitched in to help each other, even when we all moved at different paces and had different items to carry. Helping each other was an unspoken policy—if we saw a need, we stepped in to help.

Why did this work so well? Ultimately, it was because we had one common goal. We all were there to reach the end of the race, and we wanted to help each other accomplish the goal.

Bring the Team Along

In a group of eight people, all at varying skill levels, there were bound to be differences in pace. We literally had to bring the team along by physically staying together. We wanted to hang together as a team to make sure everyone was okay and got to the end. Since we were biking on open roads with other bike riders and cars, we watched out for each other. We orchestrated stops, made reservations for meals, and brought everyone together.

We figuratively brought the team together by making sure there was a cohesive team spirit. Several team members were new to riding and some had never met each other prior to the ride. But we integrated all members of the group, adopting them and working together to reach our common goal.

Great teams operate the same way in the workplace—we recognize that new members of the team are part of the group and we work to assimilate them as quickly as possible. We bring the team along with us wherever we go, in order to achieve the goal.

Don’t Forget the Woo Woo

“Woo woo” is the term from Influencing in the Gallup Strengthsfinder. This is winning people over—there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet!  This was so important on our bike ride, especially when the going got tough. When it was windy and we were on mile 90, we needed a reason to smile in order to keep up the morale. One friend of mine in our group had a whistle that sounded like a train. Whenever we passed another group of riders, she would blow the whistle.  We could laugh, other people would laugh and comment on it. The whistle was our “woo woo” and became the signature for fun to engage with others.

We need the same aspect of fun and team bonding at work.  Influencing clients and peers via humor and fun is a great way to win people over and help everyone’s attitude.  When the going gets tough—and it will, when you’re working toward a goal that’s worth achieving—incorporate lightheartedness and fun for the strength to keep moving forward.

 

These are three lessons that came to mind about teamwork throughout Ride the Rockies. I’m interested to hear—what are your experiences with any of these aspects of teamwork?

About the Author

Anne Lannan

Anne Lannan

Anne is the VP of Client Success at Ecosystems. She has over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and consulting. Anne is focused on supporting each of Ecosystems' clients by maximizing the outcomes they achieve through value-selling leadership, strategy, and execution. She earned a bachelor's degree in Health Administration and Business from the University of New Hampshire and a master's degree in Marketing and Computer Information Systems from Colorado State University. Anne has a passion for cycling and golfing.