The first time I met David Holland I didn’t know what to make of him, mostly because he was racing again. I say “racing again” because there aren’t too many people who do a full faceplant at 30 mph in a Cat 4 crit and ever show up again for a bicycle competition.
But Holland did.
Then, after I was pretty sure I didn’t know what to make of him, I started to really not know what to make of him. Rather than sit around and wait for a nickname to be properly bestowed (“Face 30” was a contender), he went out to the nickname store and bought a real cool one, “Dr. Watts.”
“Watts?” I thought. “That guy? Maybe they mean ‘Dr. Whaaaat’?”
After I’d made up my mind about him solely on the basis of rumor, innuendo, stereotyping, and a few close passes on the bike, methods that have always worked in the past, I pretty much stopped paying attention, especially since we didn’t race together. Team Lizard Collectors has close to 300 members and it’s hard to be close, intimate besties with more than a hundred people.
After a couple of short seasons, though, Dave began getting on podiums, upgrading, and winning. Whatever. I’ve seen so many older gentlemen get fired up on bike racing, buy into the delusion literally and figuratively, then flame out after a couple of seasons that it’s not as impressive as it once was.
As time went on, though, it became clear that Dave was different in a couple of key ways. The friendliness and decency with which he invariably behaved, and especially his refusal to get angry or lose his cool despite my repeated attempts to drive him insane, turned out not to be a facade. He really was that way. And more surprisingly, he learned more about the aspect of bike racing that appealed to him–crit racing–in a couple of seasons than I ever learned after more than three decades.
The phrase “student of the sport” is more threadbare than a pair of Brad House’s bib shorts, and in Dave’s case it didn’t really apply. He dedicated himself to studying and learning from the people who were successful, and quickly transitioned into a teacher of the sport. Not a know-it-all, but a kind and open dude who was willing to share what he’d gleaned and try to help you get better. I suppose it makes sense, as he’s spent his life as a track coach, and has worked with athletes who’ve reached the Olympics.
Dave’s got his flaws, of course, like the time as a Cat 4 that he neglected to split his $25 prime with his fifteen teammates and used it instead to buy a bolt of Tegaderm. That will probably never be erased from his record. But he has also done something that every race club and race team in the U.S. should take note of and emulate, and that’s his Race Captain Newsletter. As the factotum of Team Lizard Collector’s Masters Leaky Prostate Delusional Profamateur Team, Dave sends out a weekly newsletter. It’s “regular,” as they say in digestive circles.
Dave hits the upcoming races, and if there aren’t any races, the faux races, and if there aren’t any of those, he lists upcoming training rides that will help you get ready for the races you’re probably not going to do anyway. He encourages, notes good performances from the past week, and makes sure that everyone who’s thinking about racing has a reason to keep thinking about it.
This guy is one of the reasons that Team Lizard Collectors has the biggest race participation of any club in California, and probably the U.S., maybe even the Milky Way. If your club has a race orientation, or if you are actually ridiculous enough to call yourself a racing team, Dave Holland has a winning template to get your lazy, neurotic, excusifying teammates out to the starting line: Regular, straightforward club communications from someone who has everyone’s respect.
No need to complain about how bike racing is dying in SoCal. Start beating the drum, make it regular, and folks will show. See you at the races, gasping on the wheel of Dr. Watts.
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