Here at NGNM we often wonder why competition is encouraged over community, why we’re driven to compete against, rather than alongside each other, and what would happen if you brought together a group of 12 women from across Italy to ride for a common goal.
When Team Alfonsine NGNM Azimut stepped out to ride the legendary 24-hour race in Feltre earlier this summer, we knew we were in for something special. While the race concept is simple – ride as many laps as you can in 24 hours – the logistics are less so. Who rides when, what happens when you get tired, is it better to ride further and slower or shorter and faster, what’s the secret to power napping, and how much motivation can one woman share with another?
Here’s what the team discovered about themselves, and their advice for YOUR next team challenge.
“A 24-hour race is the full package. Endurance, speed, resilience, dealing with your body, riding through all conditions, riding in the dark, riding when you’re tired, and still riding when your legs refuse to recover in the final hours of the race. It’s a logistical complexity in terms of who’s riding when, what to eat, and when to take a micro-break. But above all, it’s teamwork and that’s what counts the most.
I learned how my body reacts in a wholly new situation, where what counted was being able to go all-in for short periods repeatedly over 24 hours. The whole experience demonstrated how strong the unity is between women who aren’t competing against each other, but alongside each other to achieve a common result. Cheering on other women and being cheered for when it’s your turn does not happen every day.” – Chiara
“I was drawn to the idea of racing 24 hours by the thought of sharing such a special race and not having to go through it alone. You share fatigue, food, and yawns, but most all, you share laughter and excitement.
woMy advice is that the whole team needs to become one unit before you’ve even had time to get to know each other. Remember it’s okay to smile and joke around, but you’ve still got to give everything when out on the bike. This way, it’ll feel easy, and finishing will feel incredible.” – Anna M.
“My advice is to go all-in, show up without expectations or self-doubt. Be alert, conscientious and responsible for every single minute of the 24 hours, with the knowledge that everyone will put in everything they’ve got on the bike, push your limits, and chase that shared goal. Coming away happy from a 24-hour race takes unity, determination, and flexibility. It’s an incomparable energy that’s created amongst the different members of the team when you’re chasing a common objective.” – Lila
“Don’t turn up to a 24-hour race thinking that you’re not cut out for riding in a group. Be ready to suffer without being the only one in the spotlight, encourage the rest when they’re struggling, and get ready to celebrate like crazy with people that were basically strangers before you started it all. I discovered that the team aspect is what really makes me happy. I won’t remember the race for just being an endurance event, but for the way it introduced me to so many great people.” – Alessandra
"The most important thing is believing – not just in yourself, but in the group. Knowing that your teammates have your back; they’re your biggest fans, and you are theirs. In my eyes, motivation triumphs over preparation, which will basically never be enough for an undertaking when you’ve got to stay awake for 24 hours and get back on your bike every x number of hours. There was a moment when I realized that my legs were getting more and more tired, but I couldn’t give up knowing that no one else would. This thought kept me going. I felt like I was part of a team fighting for a result, whatever it would be.” – Monica
“I’d totally recommend entering a 24-hour race. Over a challenge that’s this long, you test yourself in many ways. It’s about being alert and ready to ride when it’s your turn, thinking through what you’ve got to do and respecting the handful of important rules in order to keep the team on track. It’s so nice to feel part of a team that’s all pulling in the same direction, knowing that you’ll put yourself out there if someone gets tired and needs an extra break. While there’s a whole lot of smiling, you’ll also worry about your teammates and wonder how you can help them; listen and give advice, make friends, and get excited about future opportunities to do things together. It's never a given that you’ll all get on but riding as a team is beautiful and that’ll be your biggest takeaway from this event.” – Stefania
As Chiara said, “Cheering on other women and being cheered for when it’s your turn does not happen every day.”
She’s got a point – especially when it comes to cycling, which is mostly a solo affair despite it fundamentally being a team sport. Racing as a team brings ‘community’ into alignment with ‘challenge’ and that’s something that really strikes a chord with NGNM.
But we also recognize that you can achieve “something” in non-competitive events too – and even in your everyday rides.
This is the spirit of No Gods No Masters, which accompanies you wherever or however you ride. Just look at the United We Are tour and United We Are Gravel Camp as a perfect example of this mindset and lifestyle.