Sometimes when it seems most unlikely, success is automatic
Seeing a dream come to life is pretty rare. Seeing it cause someone else’s dream to bloom is even rarer. And even better.
Birmingham hosted the preseason race for this year’s USA Crits series and among the teams was first-year team Automatic Racing from Miami. I met them at the team welcome dinner when they introduced themselves because they are Regions Bank customers and we’re a sponsor.
What I didn’t know then was that the kits they had ordered for their first race as a team weren’t going to make it in time. And the sweatshirts they were wearing with their team name across the front were created in their host family’s kitchen the night before. If it all sounds kind of ragtag, you’d be forgiven for thinking that. But they’ve got a drive that you sense in the first meeting. Whether it’s rider/coach Tom Gibbons or team director Lauren Dodge, it’s unmistakeable.
Race day comes and in the men’s race, they get a guy in the break. Not Tom, who has successful campaigns to his credit in Belgium, but Chad Conley, a former track cyclist from Georgia. And in a field with heavy hitters, including last year’s series champion, Chad takes the win.
I like the underdog. But what I really like is a team — any team — that has a clear purpose and drives straight for it. And that’s the impression you get from either Lauren or Tom.
Here’s how Tom put it after that win: “if you do the work, if you remain positive, if you go out of your way to lift others up when they need it, and accept the help of others when you need it, success isn’t out of reach. In fact, it’s automatic.” And on Saturday, maybe it didn’t feel automatic given the tenuous lead up, but it was full, complete success. And it couldn’t have happened to nicer people.
It was also a success for my home town. For a long time, cyclists in Birmingham have wanted to bring a criterium here. I suggested it to fellow board members on the Alabama Sports Council as a way to branch out and bring in new types of events and thankfully they agreed.
With the help of well-respected racer Jacob Tubbs and former Cat 1 racer now Birmingham City Councilman Darrell O’Quinn and many others, we made it happen. I hope we can keep it going. It’s good for the city and we sent dozens of pros out across the country with a very positive view of Birmingham. I guess we just need to do the work, lift others who need it and take help when we need it. From what I saw this weekend, when you do that … success is automatic.