what is possible when we Go Together
It’s a simple phrase. With a big impact.
I felt the fullest expression of that phrase at a biking event a couple weeks ago. I showed up to a 280 mile trek through Florida having prepared very little physically or mentally. I realized going into the event that I would need to rely on everyone there. But I had no idea the depth and meaning of what would happen to me.
Everyone looked out for each other almost immediately. It started with our event leader Kevin Bupp. While I showed up underprepared, he could also tell I really wanted to be there. So instead of focusing on how underprepared I was, he was incredibly empowering. He asked what I needed all the time, shared with me resources and food I might need and didn’t know about, and every few hours would ride by to share how great I was doing. I didn’t want to quit because of his leadership…
This may sound simple but it taught me a lot. Anytime I doubted myself or my ability, he was there like a rock just believing in me. What I felt along the way was also a model for what we mean by Go Together: an unwavering belief in the potential and strengths of others regardless or their experience or what they look like.
I also made some great friends and learned a ton by riding in a small group, known in the cycling world as ‘pelotons.’ In a peloton, the lead rider sets the pace, pointing out obstacles and yelling signals that are critical to everyone’s safety. The lead rider saves everyone not only time, but also energy - physical and mental energy.
Because the lead rider is the one who “pulls” the group, any rider in the group must be able to trust the system: the lead rider’s vision, guidance, expertise, and leadership as well as the idea that you’re riding within 2-24 inches behind someone else’s tire.
Which by the way took me awhile to get used to. I had to let go — trust the peloton, and both the group and everyone respectively. We were in it together.
The lead rider also allows others to pull or serve the group as the leader. Each person takes their turn ‘pulling’ at the front; each person then falls back in line to serve as a strong follower as well. In that case, there is not just one true lead rider. Everyone is both a leader and a follower along the way.
A constant across all the pelotons is the sweeper; the sweeper is the person who rides close to the back of the group; his or her job is to guarantee the group makes it together and no one is left behind. (The world, as a whole, could use more sweepers especially one like Susan…who was ours on the trip.)
Everyone looked out for each other; no one fell behind; no one was left to figure it out for themselves. We were in it together.
I also noticed the best pelotons are made up of a variety of unique and diverse skills sets. I rode with a group that had triathlon bikes, a tandem bike and regular road bikes. People varied in ages. People varied in experience. People varied in physical ability. But our differences made us better.
When we finished the 280 miles at Key West, the southernmost point of the United States, I was moved to tears for several reasons... Not only for the journey itself, but also, and more importantly, for the community we created when we set out that first day—the community that moved together across 280 miles. The community that was in it together.
A special thanks also to my great friend Joanna Bupp who had encouraged me to come along for several years and so awesome to celebrate with her and Kevin at the end!
Going together is a founding principle of of Intentional Movement. We feel it’s powerful because there’s tremendous value in:
Looking out for each other on any road, in any condition, and on any physical or emotional journey.
Sharing opportunity and access across differences in skill sets, opportunities, experiences, ages, physical and emotional strengths.
Slowing down so that we include everyone and leave no one behind; the journey is always more special because who is there with you and for you. As a result, we choose not to use words like “those” and “them”; we strive to create a culture of “our.”
Aiming to make our partners successful because every transaction is more than just a ‘transaction’ - it’s an opportunity for communication, connection, and collaboration.
To the peloton, I say this: when we chose to go together, we knew we’d make it a lot farther than 280 miles. Thank you.
Founder, Intentional Movement