HOUFFA GRAVEL (Belgium) and LA MONSTERRATO (Italy)
When the ball dropped in Times Square and fireworks exploded around the world to mark the transition from 2022 to 2023, each and every rider at Reverb was an individual, looking for their path on their own. The only known element was that each and every one of us wanted to race, and pour our hearts into pushing our limits higher than the year before.
Now, nine months on, we know we will never walk alone. We started 2023 as individuals, but are finishing out the cycling year as an ever more united and tight knit group of riders, willing to sacrifice our own chances for the good of the group and to help each other push our limits higher than we could have ever imagined as the champagne glasses clinked to ring in the new year just nine months ago.
We set out with a stated goal of qualifying as many riders for the 2023 World Championships as possible. Now, after the mud of the Houffalize, Belgium has dried and the dust of the Monsterrato, in Italy has settled, our lead up to the UCI World Championships has finished. We’re proud to say that we were able to earn qualifications for 4 riders from 4 different nations.
However, though this was always our goal, it is far from the full story about our season. What this season is truly about is coming together as a team to support each other, because the road to success is long, and defined long beyond the number on the results sheet. Sure, there have been standout results, like Spaniard Anuch Gago’s victory at the prestigious Basajaun and 6th place a the UCI GWS Poland, Colombian Kristian Yustre’s 19th at the UCI GWS Belgium, David Van Orsdel’s 24th place at the UCI in Spain, Emma Porter’s podium at the epic Traka 360, and Cristiana Tamburini’s 4th at the Unbound XL.
However, for us, these are just the end results of months of hard work, each of us working meticulously to achieve heights that we could only dream of as 2022 came to a close. Now, as the team not only grows, but becomes closer, we can look back and know that these results would not have been possible without the support of one another. It is lazy to look at the results sheet and judge an event or season based upon the numbers next to the names. Everyone who knows cycling knows that this isn’t even close to the full story of the race. The subtle nuances are what makes this sport so beautiful.
The most beautiful moment of the season so far? It’s hard to say as there have been many. However, there is one moment of beauty in the midst of total and utter chaos that sticks out. After 30km of a fast and wild Monsterrato, riders are bouncing off each other while they jostle for position. Visibility is next to nothing, as the peloton, traveling at 45 km/hour is engulfed in dust and flying stones. Riders push and shove as over 60 riders try to get through a loose gravel road barely wide enough for a Fiat 500.
As the group starts to splinter under the baking sun and relentless pace, Davide Plebani turns to team manager and road captain David Van Orsdel and says, totally unprompted, “I don’t give a sh*t about my result, I’m already qualified, I’m here for Jaume, (the strong young Spaniard).” Van Orsdel replies in turn, “me too, we race for Jaume now.” Van Orsdel sits up, and slots back to Jaume who had lost a few positions in an early crash. “Davide and I are racing for you, whatever you need, we’re here for you”. Over the next 60km, Plebani and Van Orsdel stayed by the Spaniard’s side, Plebani, the track specialist, suffering over the steep climbs, but providing invaluable support when mechanicals struck Jaume. Meanwhile, Van Orsdel did his best Dani Martinez impression, shuttling extra water, screaming encouragement, and closing gaps on the climbs.
In the end, it seems that the work was not enough for a qualification, but that is not the point. What truly matters is that Jaume, despite a crash, banged up knee and twisted saddle, fought on as hard as he possibly could and there was no hesitation from his teammates around him.
We are here for each other – this is what success looks like: The willingness to fight on, together, in the face of adversity when the challenge looks too big to overcome.