“What did you do this weekend?” My work colleagues asked me on Monday morning. When I told them their reactions were all the same:
“That’s Amazing!”. “No Way!”. “Unbelievable!”.
I have to show them the pictures to prove it! I still can’t quite get my head around it myself if I’m honest! The Team Alpecin 2019 Kick-Off weekend was simply out of this world! After weeks of anticipation, excitement and constantly re-watching footage from the 2018 team’s opening weekend, I can honestly say that it was more than I could ever have hoped for.
Between the abundance of kit and apparel, the knowledge, expertise and experience that was shared with us and the amazing hospitality; I still haven’t quite yet processed my own emotions! So when Daniel asked me to share my thoughts I had to take a step back, take a deep breath and for the first time, reflect on everything that happened during that first weekend in March.
The agenda for the weekend was packed full! Presentations, bikes, bike fits and fitness tests. Trying on all the clothing, helmets, and shoes. Nutrition and supplements. Hair and makeup (yes, even for the guys!), Photographs and videos and an amazing history lesson about Alpecin. All of the suppliers and partners were in attendance to make sure we understood how everything worked and so that we got the most out of what we were given.
Most importantly, of course, we got to know the people that we will be working closely with throughout the year: the Alpecin Staff. They put this whole puzzle together and they’re pushing us to achieve our goals. Without them, this team doesn’t exist. Whilst many people may assume that the equipment is the best part of all this (and they’re not completely wrong), it occurred to me that Team Alpecin is so much more than just equipment and training. From the very first time we saw the opening presentation from Daniel, Steffen and Lude, everything that we did was geared towards motivation, instilling a passion for The Alpecin brand and taking a group of 12 people from all over the world and creating a genuine team.
Talking to the new teammates and having a few beer - great kick off!
Without any doubt, it was an objective that was achieved. We were all put at ease by that hilarious presentation on the first evening. As part of the proceedings on Friday evening, we all had to open ourselves up to our new teammates, the staff, the sponsors and the partners by speaking on stage. Later, we shared a cooking experience and said cheers over a few beers, we were photographed together, ate together and bonded over our mutual love for cycling. Nerves quickly melted away.
Flowing conversations and lots of laughter at dinner, fetching towels and water for our fellow riders during their fitness tests. Cheering each other on and standing shoulder to shoulder, arms around each other for the team photographs.
Cycling is often mistaken as an individual sport given that only one rider stands atop the podium after a race.
However, that winner rarely, if ever, achieves victory without support from their team or friends. On Friday the 8th of March we arrived in Bielefeld a group of strangers from all over the world. On Sunday the 10th of March, we all returned home as a team.
I didn’t shake anyone’s hand to say goodbye. I didn’t need to; everyone held their arms wide open to hug and embrace. We all wished each other well and good luck with our training, until Caldaro in Italy in 4 weeks time.
In a single weekend in Bielefeld, we became a close unit. We’re now ready to help each other climb to the top spot of our own personal podiums to achieve our own personal victories. It’s clear to me that this same culture and team spirit exists within Alpecin too. Alpecin is more than just a cosmetics and shampoo company. The staff and everyone behind the scenes are close a family. And they’ve welcomed us into their family with open arms.
Next Stop: Team Alpecin training camp in Caldaro
If I thought I was motivated before this weekend, I now realise that It’s just gone to another level. I’m ready to give more than I ever thought possible. I know that my team feels the exact same way. 2019 is going to be an incredible adventure and I’m so pleased to be on this journey and to be able to share it all with 12 new friends, Alpecin and all our partners, sponsors and supporters.
Next up? The team training camp in Caldero in April! Alpine passes, hours in the saddle every day and more suffering are what awaits us. But I can’t wait. We’ll all get stronger, together. As a team.
Image rights: Alpecin Cycling / Henning Angerer, Stefan Rachow
“Thatberkshirecyclist” alias Michael Rammel has been selected to be part of 2019 Team Alpecin.