Sunflowers, and missed photo opportunities

 

 

It was a picture of a sunflower that I was drawn toward, when it was turn to reintroduce my self to the group that I have meeting with for the past 6 months. It reflected a missed photo opportunity, and the “picture I wanted to take” on a recent family holiday to France. As a family we are keen cyclists and as well as seeing the final day of the Tour de France in Paris, we were planning to cycle in the Alps and around Annecy on the periphery of the Alps. I wanted a photo of us cycling in front of some sunflowers, a copy of many iconic photos of the Tour. Alas we did not, but it gave me an opportunity to start a dialogue in which I let a little more out of myself to the group, including a new member.

I have been working formally with the group for the last six months as part of a “Community of Practise”; coming together regularly to share ideas and challenge each other around specific subjects. Its been a great experience and one that I have found increasingly rewarding.

What struck me though was the new information that came from the exercise of six of us sharing thoughts about a single picture that each of chose from a pile. Even though we have worked together for six months, more for others, we shared information and insights, past experiences and former names we were known by that was surprising, funny, revealing and prompted “no, really”.

This simple process left me wondering how in the teams that I have been part of and teams that I work in, that we made time just to reintroduce ourselves to each other, and as a result of increased trust with one another, how much more we opened up with one another.

So lesson for me. When teams say, “but we know each other”, I am really going to challenge that, and I challenge you with your teams to just maybe re introduce yourselves to each other, and I wonder what you might just reveal and find out about each other.

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It never gets easier, you just go faster!

 

 

 

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Greg LeMond is credited with that quote, and reflects the feelings this morning I have having completed my first ever cycling time trial last night around a 25Km course around the hill where I live. 

I have to say I am really chuffed with my performance last night, and not bad for a 50 year old bloke carrying a bit too much of a picnic as it was described the other day. My boys just call me fat!

What a lovely experience. We were invited along by a swimming Dad and keen cyclist who has been really interested in my son Tom’s interest in cycling and thought a time trial would be a great introduction to another form of competitive racing. Tom is getting his head around what sport he wants to carry on with as he grapples with wanting to compete at sport, and our expectations of him as he enters first year of GCSE’s in September. We are dead supportive of sport, but we are forcing him now to make some choices! 

So last night. Firstly the welcome, the post ride analysis and the urge for us to carry on and join the cycling club at the weekends. I have done many sports, and introduced the boys to many, and often they appear closed and aloof and I am always surprised at how welcoming people are. So whatever the sport or activity, just go and join in.

My performance. Well it clearly helped having just come back from two weeks cycling in France. Although it was mostly climbing that we did and never got into the big rings, two weeks of healthily living, smaller food portions (although a lot of butter!!) have meant I actually came back from holiday and fitted into some polo shirts at the bottom of my draw. A tough course, 25km and 190m of elevation, I was chasing a time of less than 55 mins. The fact that I did it in 50.17mins was absolutely brilliant and I admit there was a quiet fist pump as I crossed the finish line. I am still buzzing as I write this.

What next. Well I want to do some proper alpine climbs next year so I need to get really fit. I had plans to do a triathlon next year, but its about the bike that my passion lies, so I need to follow my heart on that one.  I think Tom will follow his heart and choose cycling as his sport so as he’s only 14 I need to be around as well as push him a bit.

So excuse the blog, its just a long tweet really but I just need to put some words down!!

 

Lessons from France!

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I have just returned from a family holiday, and I have to say I am in love with France again. Our holiday had a major cycling theme starting in Paris for the final day of the Tour de France, cycling in the alps and a chance to tackle the infamous Alpe d’Huez, and a week of cycling and relaxing near to Annecy.

I have come away with many things that I observed about French society that I am missing already…

  • saying hello and goodbye to shop and till assistants, and not using the checkout as a time to check phone messages
  • using my “survival” french to build a relationship with the local butcher who in French played along with me and complimented my choice of sausages for the barbecue
  • not taking my life in my hands and dodging speeding cars around the car park of the supermarket
  • nodding and saying hello to people in the street

 

But most of all I was struck by French drivers, and hence the picture that we passed alongside many of the roads in the areas that we cycled. Cars slowed down behind us, did not burn out their clutches as they revved their engine either intending to intimidate or purely through incompetence of actually driving a car at slow speeds!! But most of all they passed us at the sort of distances in the sign above, and also not accelerating whilst they did it. In fact over the two weeks that we cycled covering over 400km on the bike, I can only recollect two cars that passed us extremely closely. Guess what, they had British plates!!!

So my lessons from France, and maybe its more about passing bikes at a safe distance, that just maybe we have lost something more in our society, and thats just the ability to get along with each other, be interested in each other whatever our language, and that we need to pass each other and give each other a bit of space.

I am sure that French Society has its ills, but I experienced something that Im going to work hard at practising here. 

What I ask from you, especially if you drive a car, is that you think about us on a bike and give us 1.5m. If the French, the Italians and the Dutch can, then surely you can?