A taste of a professional cyclist’s life on the road

By July 25, 2016Cycling

This past weekend I raced the Vuelta Sevilla (two stages over Saturday & Sunday) and rounded it off with a one-day race in Alicante on Monday. The team car’s odometer currently reads 1800 km – but I still have another 600 km to get home.

If I thought I would be racing and then putting my feet up afterwards I was mistaken. Yes, my team did an amazing job of attending to our needs, but the nature of racing and travelling is that things just need to be done after a race. Between loading bikes, drinking and eating, washing and travelling back to the hotel, before you know it it’s the evening and you are knackered!

I left Girona on Thursday and took the train down the coast with my bike to my manager’s town, close to Valencia. He put me up in a local hotel and even took me out to dinner that evening. The next day we drove the 1000 km to Sevilla – at least 9 hours of butt-numbing torture.

Once at Sevilla things took a turn for the better and we were on our bikes loosening out the legs through the romantic streets of the city. I have never been cheered at or called “campeón” so many times. Cycling must be in the blood in Spain, anybody and everybody waved, cheered and took a look at my team cruising along. The Vuelta Sevilla is an annual event for the city and they see it as a cause for celebration.

Back at the hotel we ate rice, pasta and tuna steaks. I ate too much, I always do, but knew I would be burning it off soon enough. I slept like a baby the first night. I was knackered after the long journey. In the morning we followed the strict rule of breakfast 3 hours before the race and were ready to go.

The race itself was tough. We did 47 km in the first hour and it was over 45 degrees. I was in multiple breaks including what I thought was the key move. It wasn’t and after I was caught some others slipped away. But I still fought in the bunch sprint and only one got past me. Hot, knackered and slightly disappointed I returned to the team car. No rest yet though – we had to clean up quickly and get the bikes loaded as we were going to miss our lunch slot back at the hotel! It was great to relax in the afternoon and get the feet up for a few hours. We even span around town again. I ate too much again at dinner (there’s a surprise) and packed myself off to bed. The sleep definitely deteriorated and it was hard to get comfy.

By 9 am we had to be fed, changed and the car loaded with all our luggage. We rode to the start of the second and final stage. The race set off and finished on the famous Triana bridge, quite possibly the best setting I have ever seen. The sprint to the line, which was on the cobbled lane to the bridge was aggressive and a lot of fun! I again missed the critical move but was in the first couple of the group sprint.

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After the race (even more tired, hotter and hungrier than the day before) I just wanted to collapse. Again the pressure was on to get ourselves packed into the team car for the 7 hour drive to Alicante. That actually destroyed my butt. We arrived at 21:30 and ate dinner at 22:30. A few of us threw ourselves into the pool at our casa rural after dinner to cool our throbbing legs!

The race started at 9:30 am the next morning. It’s OK though, it was only 140 km in 40 degree heat! If I suffered the day before I knew I would need to dig deeper today. But I was up for it after my espresso an hour before race start. I left a lot on the road and worked hard for my team. My team mate won in his local town which is great.

Just to round off the weekend we again loaded ourselves up for the 600 km drive home. All in all it has been an amazing weekend of racing and seeing new places. The travelling is soul destroying and you need to be both patient with your needs and self-sufficient. There is a lot more to a pro’s life on the road than meets the eye.

Will I do it again? Hell yeah!

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