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Team Joe Barr

I am so very proud of and grateful for my team. All of them. Whether they have supported me on one race or have covered thousands of miles by my side. I have an unquestionable confidence that I am surrounded by people who continuously give above and beyond, day and night.

You might think life just passes me by or I pass by life on two wheels but the older I get I seem to reflect on things more. Today, I completed a tough training run with my Race across Italy crew. We rode a section of the Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra Race. As a brief aside, please do check out this race the organizers have done a truly fantastic job and have created a breathtaking course full of Donegal’s toughest challenges.

We did a scheduled stop for bike change and data collection outside a pub called the Rusty Nail on the approach to Mamore. You may wonder what the significance of the Rusty Nail might be? Well…as I sat in the back of the car providing ‘data’ I could not help but remember another painful incident in this exact spot.

The Rusty Nail marks the spot in last year’s Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra where I took a wrong turn. I turned left when I should have gone straight.

You might also wonder how could this have happened? Where was the team? And herein lies the lesson. For a brief moment the crew and I lost sight of one another. We were about 5 hours into the race, I had been putting the hammer down from the start line and had gained significant time, I was feeling ‘fast’, legs were working, mind was focused. The crew and I did a bike change in preparation for Mamore. I took off fast while the crew loaded the time trial bike. I turned left at the Rusty Nail out of familiarity and did not have the crew to instruct me to ‘go straight’. My team stayed on course and went straight. The second the team and I became disconnected was the most critical moment of my race. I ended up losing 59 mins and climbing Mamore 3 times in quick succession before my crew and I reconnected.

If endurance cycling has taught me anything, it is keep the bike moving forward. We battled on for the rest of the race and closed the gap to just a few minutes achieving 3rd place overall.

Someone recently reminded me of a quote, which apparently is an old African proverb – ‘if you want to go FAST go ALONE, if you want to go FAR go TOGETHER.’ On Saturday at the Rusty Nail I could not help but reflect…..these races are ‘FAR’ and when we go together we look out for one another, my crew keeps me on the right track, they nourish me, they motivate me, they protect me and I give them everything I have in terms of performance and everything that I am. We go far together.

Alone – I may be fast (even at 57 but who is counting..) but at speed it is easy to disconnect with what and who is important.

It is a bit like life at times isn’t it? You may hit a crisis or you may take a turn and suddenly you have lost sight of who or what is important. You may be moving at such speed that you don’t recognize that you are alone which means that the folks who are on your ‘crew’ - your family, friends, colleagues also don’t know where you are. This is the time to sit up, have a good look around and find a way to connect again. Hell, I hope you don’t have to climb Mamore 3 times to get back on track but if you do…KNOW that you can…

Life is a road that I hope is a far one…so much better to journey together with people who have your back, your sides, your front... day and night.

And for the record we won’t be turning left at the Rusty Nail again! …I look forward to seeing you all on the road…

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