There are a lot of team sports out there that have coaches, positions, rules, and specific training that are somewhat ingrained and obvious. Most people know what Sam Bradford does for a living and how he got there (by being a 1st round NFL pick.) Most people don't know how Jan Hruska got so fast, or for that matter who the hell he is, or that he got caught with blood thicker than hot butter. That is the joy of cycling in this country, it is obscure, you get to wear tight outfits that anger motorists, suffer worse than any other athlete and get beer thrown on you by chain smoking soccer moms.
In theory road racing is a team sport, and even if your discipline of choice is more individual, the tactics, training, and knowledge of racing benefits all cyclists. Mountain biking, time trialing, triathlon, duathlon, and track racing all have similar elements and requirements.
Since Big Shark Bicycle Company is in the bicycle business it seemed like a logical conclusion to sponsor a race team in order to promote the sport, enhance the local cycling team, bring in new faces, develop athletes, and have fun.
Reasons to be on a team, for those who don't know: Improvement, Networking, Shop Support, Event Support, Training opportunities, Equipment Support, Fast Cars and Wild Parties.
There are a lot of books, videos, internet coaches, and so on out there that can help you improve as a cyclist, and all are good supplements to training and racing, but being on a team with peers who compete at the highest level and with folks of equal or greater ability is a much more interactive way to get the same information. It goes without saying (but we'll say it anyway)-all cycling disciplines are not practiced in a vacuum or solo, unless all you eat is garlic. Having various types of support as an athlete is better than having no support, unless you are striving to achieve sainthood by spending your entire life alone in a tree (...and even then you could argue that the tree is supporting you.)
Big Shark Racing isn't the only team in St. Louis or in the region. There are lots of other teams to join: Sunset Racing, Dogfish, St. Louis Triathlon Club, Off the Front Racing, Clayton Cycling Club, St. Louis Cycling Club, Velo Force, Ozark Cycling Club, Team MACK, SCCC, ICCC, or Radioshack. Some people prefer to operate independently and race unattached. We don't want everybody to join our team. Some people are poor fits, poor people, or full-on jerks. And, actually we might be the jerks, we're not really sure. Every team has its own culture and it is important to find a group of like-minded people for training, riding, and racing.
Big Shark Racing has never tried to define itself as being uniquely elite or entry level regarding ability. Nor are we a purely road, mountain, or multi-sport oriented club. We have a very diverse group of people with a wide range of abilities and interests. Amateur racing can be as hardcore or mellow as you want. We guarantee that there are people on our team that you will really like and enjoy riding and training with, but we also guarantee that we have some weird, freakish members who we try to keep in the attic like Uncle Lester.
As a result of this diversity Big Shark Racing has a lot of members that participate at almost every level of competition in many disciplines. This enables team members to compete at a level they are comfortable with and have the opportunity to move up categories and gain ability and information.
From trying your first criterium to upgrading to an Expert mountain biker, there are individuals and resources on our team that can facilitate your racing.
In the past we have had a few multi-sport athletes on our team that have sort of fit into the general rules and such of the team. This year we are actively pursuing and sponsoring Triathletes and Duathletes. Certainly the running and drowning aspect of multisport is not really the team's focus, but there are enough very competitive multisport athletes on the team that it makes sense to offer the same benefits as the road and mountain bike racers. The cycling aspect of team training and competition will certainly benefit any multisport athlete.
Big Shark Racing is not a team that has a specific coach, although coaching is available. Members of the team have competed successfully locally, regionally, and internationally- and the same people on out team that have achieved are certainly willing to provide insight and information. Through team training and events , races, and interaction there are lots of opportunities to involve yourself as an athlete to the degree that you are comfortable. There are always people to train with, events, and activities- it is up to the individual team member to initiate and involve themselves.
The primary benefits from being on the team are performance improvement and enjoyment. There are some additional benefits as well. All team members are eligible for certain equipment discounts, race reimbursements, expense reimbursements, equipment sponsorship, etc.. These benefits will be outlined.
However- regarding team benefits-The reason for being on a team is definitely not for the store discount, race reimbursement, or free anything. This is a hobby and amateur sport for most people involved and focusing on entitlement and self-interest is completely not the point of the team. Greedy, sel-important jerko's who race amateur sports for the money need to join a different team, turn pro, or evaluate what they do from 9-5 each weekday.
Title Sponsor: Michelob Ultra, The Staenberg Group, PI Pizza, Hogan Trucking Company, Nelson and Nelson Law Firm, Wolf and Taylor Accounting Firm, West County Spine and Joint, Aegis Metal Framing, Raleigh Bicycles , SRAM, Nutriformance, RPM Motors Car Care, Renaissance Financial , Companion Bakery, and Big Shark Bicycle Company. All of the above sponsors donate, money, equipment, or services to the team, which when combined with the money we raise through promotions and membership provides the team with a decent budget.
Team membership varies a bit annually based on how we're doing with sponsorship, however it's generally $75-$100 which does include a racing jersey or tri top. In order to be eligible for race reimbursement or travel expenses you have to compete in uniform (our uniform that is!). There is a $400.00 cap on individual total race reimbursement per annum unless a special conversation behind closed doors occurs.
New members are eligible for a discount at the store that is determined by ability level, attendance, and participation. Race reimbursement is eligible to some racers in some circumstances. Since we are a local team we will only reimburse results for local races, which is the scope and impact that benefit our sponsors. (It makes no sense to pay for races outside the team's marketing area.) The reimbursement program is targeted for higher ability team members who race with frequency, and it is performance based. The team will help all members at local events to varying degree's and will certainly try to defray hotel cost etc...at races where a significant number of people are attending. Hotel reimbursement has to be approved pre-facto. It is important that team members understand before they request reimbursement if their request is approved and valid.
We will on occasion support team riders with race entry reimbursement and hotel at out of market events- which has to be determined pre-event. Examples would be national level events, USAC or USAT nationals, etc. Any reimbursement that exceeds a riders "cap" needs to be discussed prior to each event.
Our team consists of athletes of all abilities and age groups. There are no criteria you have to meet - everyone is welcome! Through the team approach to the individual sport of triathlon, we encourage networking with other members for training, racing and socializing.
Questions? Send us an email: Triathlon Team Information