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The Power Of Teamwork

On My Recumbent Bike

So I’ve been blogging about how I, an ADHD adult, managed to train for a 386 mile/6 day bike rally in less than three months. 

Bearing in mind that I was out of shape, didn’t have a bike, hadn’t ridden in years, and the other 190 riders had been training for 6 weeks.

I pulled it off using the same strategies I’ve used to manage my ADHD.

I’ve explained how I broke the ride down into manageable steps.

This was crucial when I was cramping up, burned out, or exhausted. I cut off thoughts like, “How will I manage today? I’ve only done 30 miles out of the 74 miles and I’m toast!” Instead I asked, “Can I manage the next half mile?” If the answer was, “I don’t think so,” I’d ask, “How about another hundred yards? Or even one hundred feet?”

I kept breaking it into smaller chunks until I could answer, “Yes, I can manage that far… and when I get there I’ll decide what’s next.”

Now I’ll share another strategy I used. Or was forced to use.

Teamwork and Bike Rallies

Being part of a team. There were 190 riders. We were divided into teams for training, and I looked for riders with much more experience to mentor me and provide support.

Another 50 people acted as crew, chefs, and support staff.

Bike store employees taught us how to change tires and fix chains. A former Olympic cyclist gave us lessons in ergonomics and how to maximize the power from each pedal.

The team was big.

During the ride there were massage therapists, nurses, and safety and support crew waiting every few miles with a mini-van full of water, chocolate bars and band-aids.

There were drivers, bike mechanics, a chiropractor and even laughing volunteers who would stand by the highway, hosing us down with ice cold water from super-soaker guns on the super hot days.

We had to camp each night, and our amazing cyclist friend, Andrew was so much faster than us that he had our tent set up for us long before we staggered into camp. So convenient to have a cozy place to collapse.

A thousand things were done for us from food preparation to route planning to markers stuck in the ground at every turn or fork in the road to keep us going in the right direction.

And of course my team-mates, including Ava, encouraged me, pushed me a bit, but let me go at my own pace. That was crucial. I felt like I had control. (Control is big for ADDers.)

To give you a sense of how important having a Team is, consider how much you have benefited in dealing with your ADHD from this website, from the videos, the Forums, from books you’ve read, coaches, support groups…

And how hard it has been when you have had to struggle alone, or rely on crappy sources of information.

The Power of a Team

Team is not a natural fit for me.

Normally, I try to do it all myself. I turn inward. I become hermit-like, just focusing on the problems and challenges, trying to figure it all out myself.

That never goes well.

As creative and energetic as I am, I know that working with someone else doesn’t just double the productivity and energy, its exponential.

With 250 fellow riders, support staff and sponsors, I was propelled forward, energized to do something that seemed impossible when I first blurted out, “I’ll do the rally too.”

To appreciate the power of the team, I only ask, could I get myself in shape to do that rally again all by myself?

No. I wish.

Even though I’ve done it once, could I keep myself on track? Get inspired when I’m pooped? Take care of all the details?

If I’m honest… not a chance. Even if I’m dishonest. There’s no way.

So why don’t I do this all the time?

Just immediately build teams, rely on others, ask for favours, seek help and let others contribute? Am I being noble? 

No.  I wish.  It’s not nobility but a habit from the past. The dark age before I got a proper diagnosis.

You see, back then, the tornado of thoughts from my unrecognized and untreated ADHD made it brutally hard to follow long conversations, give detailed instructions, or even finish a complete sentence.

It’s hard to trust others when you don’t trust yourself.

Rather than try to put into words and communicate what I want, oh hell, I’ll do it myself.

When I was in the middle of something complex or hairy–the perfect time to have help—I was so busy handling it, or mishandling it, I had no time to build a team, much less call 911. I was busy doing, doing, doing!

“Yes, it would be a lot easier to juggle these three flaming torches if I had nine people helping me, how can I call people and ask for help? I’m busy juggling three flaming torches!!!”

Even today, when I was in an edit suite working with my friend Marcus, I was only sharing about 1 in 20 thoughts, and I finally had to stop the, “Cut here and move this here…” and explain the bigger picture, “I think we could cover this point in just two sentences.”

Or, “Here’s the problem I’m trying to fix.”

Now, knowing about ADHD, understanding my inclination, I’m way more likely to ask for help.

I’ll explain what I want, make sure all the details are clear, answer any questions and then allow them to do what they need to do.

Not always, perhaps not even all that often, but when I remember, or when circumstances force me to start including others to avoid exploding, it works.

It’s just not something that comes naturally, it takes time to build the muscle. And it’s taking longer than it took to train for a 368 mile bike rally.



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Cycling Greg Lemond

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  1. William April 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I am so glad to hear a story that sounds like my life. Thanks Rick.

  2. Rick April 21, 2012 at 11:40 am

    You’re welcome!
    I apologize for the length of the blog! Reading right to the end is probably as hard as the bike rally! ;-)

  3. William April 22, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Got a lot out of it. You did good!

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