Inside the Caravan: From training camp to Merco
Editor’s note: This is the third of a new regular column on VeloNews.com, written by Omer Kem, the new head director of the Bissell Pro Cycling team. The column will give an inside-the-caravan view of the domestic race scene this year.
Let me start by saying thank you. Thank you to my riders, staff, amazing sponsors and my wife for letting me make sure that the 2011 Bissell team training camp was an amazing success. If it wasn’t for each and everyone one of you, the week of training, planning and fun wouldn’t have been as great as it was.
When thinking about how to manage the camp I had to think back to all the camps I attended as a rider. I had the blessed misfortune to have a couple of great directors and one really bad one. Those experiences are what let me think about the best possible agenda to empower and get the best out of my riders and staff. Yes, there were several hard moments, but we came out of camp stronger and a TEAM. Good times are great, but how you deal with the bad times define you.
After a week of riding and getting to know each other, the team packed up and headed south to the first team race of the year. Our confidence was high, but we knew that there was nothing that we could afford to take for granted. I was also training a new assistant DS over the weekend and it added much needed joy and a bit of madness to an already stress-filled four days of racing. He did a fantastic job dealing with my back seat driving, I think I only grabbed for the steering wheel once.
The results of the weekend speak for themselves: three stage wins, 1-2-3 GC and the points jersey. What I most happy about is that three different riders won a stage. We rode like a TEAM, all for one and one for all. I understand this well because I wasn’t a great bike racer. There were a few moments of personal success but I always sold out for my teammates. That statement brings me back to my guys racing their hearts out for each other. Sometimes it seems like there is only one winner, but I will never forget the guy that cashed his chips with 10km to go. They are all champions to me.
So here’s to a great 2011 season for the Bissell Pro Cycling Team. Thank you to all our sponsors and we will be firing on all cylinders for the NRC kickoff in Redlands.
Thanks for reading….
Bissell Pro Cycling
Omer Kem lives in Oregon with his wife. In addition to driving the team car for Bissell Pro Cycling, he is the membership director for the Oregon Bicycle Racing Assoc and a cycling coach. You can follow him at www.bissellprocycling.com, @bissellcycling and @okracing. Please feel free to contact him at email@example.com.