I just witnessed a race on a grand scale, in its purest form. We spent the day as specia l guests of the Discovery Channel. I had never participated or watch a bicycle race in such comfort! We spent the day at the Discovery Pavilion right next to the start/finish line. We were pampered with catered food and beverages. We watched the riders as they passed by us and on the team’s close curcuit television screen. This was a 108 mile race through the streets of San Francisco. There were thousands of people lining the streets to watch riders from all over the world race.
One of the high points of the day was riding in the Team Discovery SAG car. We raced through the streets following the riders. We sometimes reached speeds of 80 mph as we tried to catch up to the Team Discovery riders after getting caught behind groups of riders. Thousands of spectators cheered us along with the riders. I soon realized that there were two races actually going on… the one between the cyclists and the one between the support vehicles. The support vehicles wanted to be in a position to help their riders, so they jockied for the best position. It was an incredible vantage to watch the race. For a lap we were part of the race. Our driver/captain, Lorenzo , drove and directed the tactics of the team at near NASCAR speeds. I soon realized that a bicycle race is more than every rider riding for themselves. It was about working together as a team to help get the most team mates up front. It was way more complicated than "each man for himself." It took brains, strategy, patience and skill.
I was struck by the fact that our mission as educators is much the same as this race. We struggle to do what is best for our students and much of what we do is behind the scenes, out of the fan fare. I, as a principal, strive to support the teachers at my school so they can be the best, and do the best for our students. I am doing a good job when my teachers succeed and are recognized for their excellence.
At the end of the race the riders from Team Discovery joined us at the pavilion. I was struck by how down to earth and kind they were to us and the fans. This is truely a sport of honor…especially, when you think that for a cycling fan like me, meeting these riders is like a baseball fan meeting the starting line up of their favorite major league team. All the riders signed autographs and walked through crowds of spectators, accessible. They had a quiet dignity and poise about them that lack all pretentions. They are world class role models. This is sports in its purest form. I would like to thank Team Discovery and Discovery Channel for giving me a great gift. In a world of deminishing sports role models, cycling is an exception.