Last week I sat down with the team to talk about what is important to us, to the entire team. Part of this came about with the fall from grace of Lance Armstrong and the apparent lack of integrity in the cycling world. Another reason is we are heading into the Tour of Rwanda, and another Team came to train with us from another African country. We have no idea where they are as a team. We just wanted to be clear about what is important to THIS team, these cyclists.
First, conversations like this do not happen generally in Rwanda, a free flowing group discussion about values. We started working with the team this year in our after training meetings to help them become comfortable expressing whatever is on their mind whether it deals with the bike or other more personal issues. Secondly, this is their work. They talked about examples and I helped them put it into words.
Respect is the word used most often within this team. They live this word. The other day when the Minister of Sport came out to our training camp (this never happens a HUGE deal for us), I spent most of the day organizing the house, the office, the reception for the Minister, his staff, the Rwandan Cycling Federation and the dozen or more journalists who were here to cover the event. As the Minister was taking a tour of the Team home, Nathan asked me why I didn't ride that morning. I told him I just had too much to do with the Minister coming. I wanted to make sure everything was perfect, or as close to perfect as possible. Nathan looked at me all serious and said, "These guys, you know, they respect you. These guys, they do." I smiled.....really, that's all I ever need. I work hard to earn their respect. It is a two way street and I will continue to earn their respect every day just like they earn mine.
A few days after we wrote these values, I opened up Facebook to see David George from 360 Life, a South African mountain biker, a person our team knows and looks up to, tested positive for doping. Adrien raced against David George in the Cape Epic and the Cape Pioneer. Nathan just looked at the article over my shoulder and said, "He has no integrity" and he walked away disgusted. David George and all the rest of the dopers are everything wrong with the sport....Adrien and Nathan and the team is everything right.
Today on Twitter as I looked at all the positive tweets about the screening of Rising From Ashes at the Napa Valley Film Festival last night I see there are people who still believe in the sport. The film won best documentary voted by the audience. People still want to believe in these values.
One of the tweets read:
@TRwandaCycling @rfathemovie we really loved your story. Your team has something to teach us all.
I continue to learn every day from these young men.