Living out of a suitcase
I’ve heard the term “living out of a suitcase” thrown around lots in professional cycling, and until now, I never really understood entirely what this meant. Yes I know what living out of a suitcase means, but until you experience something for yourself, you don’t truly know what it’s like! My 2016 season so far has been the biggest and best experience I’ve had as a cyclist, and it’s definitely the most time I’ve spent traveling …Although I’m yet to gain any worthwhile frequent flyer status! (Much to my frustration)!! There will be a separate post about this shortly, but for now, I’m here to talk briefly about my traveling lifestyle.
In my last post, it was mentioned that it appears I run very independently from the team, and only meet up for scheduled races. “…how does it work with travel…is this not organised through the team?”… so here’s a bit of further information regarding my traveling logistics.
Firstly, there’s a few riders who have opted to spend most of their time at home in Australia for various reasons. Some don’t have a significant number of races in Europe and are racing more in the Asian continent, so living in Europe is not really as big of a concern. Others have family and kids, and preferred to spend a bit more time at home (although some of these guys have still spent significant time overseas, such as three to four week blocks which covers a couple of tours).
For the others, we’ve moved over to Europe for most of the year, with the majority of riders picking Girona, Spain as their base. Most of the guys have rented out a room in an apartment for half the year. Girona is good for a few reasons. The riding is good, with a bit of everything that suits all riders including long flat roads, rolling terrain, and big mountains. Once you get out of town things get really quiet with traffic, and the cost of living is quite cheap here. I have spent a fair bit of time in Girona already, but I never opted to rent an apartment. Instead, I spent a few weeks using AirBnB. A big downside means whenever I travel, I have to bring everything with me all the time. Traveling with 6 months worth of gear everywhere gets old VERY quickly!
So in hindsight, I think renting an apartment and living more permanently in Girona would have been good, however I don’t regret what I’ve been doing so far this year. Between a couple of races, instead of going back ‘home’ to Girona, I stayed in Verona for a week using AirBnB in preparation for the Giro del Trentino which provided some memorable experiences and I got to experience living in Italy for a while.
And now I’m living in Boulder, Colorado.
I never got a visa sorted for Europe and therefore I’m limited to spending a total of 90 days there this year, so spending time in the States is a good way to avoid overstaying. Also, my upcoming races with Austria and Portugal include bits of altitude, so training here is good preparation for these events. Lachie Norris is also staying in the States at the moment, living just down the road in Golden, Colorado.
There’s a significant cycling community here in Boulder, similar to Girona, so meeting other cyclists to go training with is reasonably easy. I also don’t mind doing lots of training on my own, so I’m not too worried about this. Sometimes I find I just train better on my own, and other times having company for longer riders, or short recovery rides is great.
As for the other staff involved with the team, including the Director Sportifs, Mechanics, and Soigneurs some of them also spend significant time in Europe. The team has a ‘team house’ in Belgium where they stay, and the riders can also stay here. It’s not uncommon for the riders to stay here for a night or two before or after a race in transit back to their home in Girona. One or two riders are spending significantly more time living out of the team house in Belgium, however for me this isn’t the ideal place to spend time training as a climber!!
In short, the choice of where we live this year is totally up to us! It makes sense that if we’re racing predominantly in Europe, living in Europe is the best option. The team organizes the flights to and from races, so I let them know where I want to go after the race, and they’ll make sure the plane takes me there.
I guess the short answer to the above question therefore is yes, my traveling this year is a little bit more independent from the rest of the team who’ve decided to stay in Girona full-time, or those who’re predominantly staying in Australia. But it’s really no different from if I was living at home in Melbourne. We only have a couple of other guys from Drapac who live in Melbourne, but they’re from Bendigo anyway, so in that essence, living at home in Eltham is pretty independent too!