The toilet in Geraint Thomas’s hotel room was a prime example of how pro cyclists don’t always lead as glamorous a life as we think. Sure, they get the latest bikes, all kinds of kit and swag, and get to ride all day. But it also means long days in the rain, lots of exhausting travel, and some crappy accommodations.
It’s not the organizers’ fault either. As Luke Rowe explained in his autobiography, when hundreds of riders, staff, and race officials descend upon some small town in France, there’s not a lot of beds around.
“Cycling isn’t always as glamorous as people think. You get stuck in some really rough hotels too. If there are 200 riders in a race, plus 200 staff and lots of journalists and officials, most of the hotels get filled up, and you can end up in some really dodgy hotels,” he wrote in The Telegraph. “A lot of what we do is pretty standard.”
Marginal gains means taking control of surroundings
It’s not just the rooms themselves, but you also put yourself at the mercy of the chef who is cooking for you. That’s why many teams started bringing their own chef to cook for the riders. It’s for several reasons. Many cyclists may have their dietary preferences, and also, you can be assured that sloppy cooking won’t result in food poisoning. Riding a Grand Tour on a sore stomach could be disastrous for a G.C. favorite. During the Chris Froome era, Team Sky even went as far as getting their own washing machines so they were sure not to have any cross-contamination and avoid bacteria on shorts, which could result in saddle sores.
Charly Wegelius wrote that many fans would be shocked at life behind the scenes in his book, Domestique.
“As my career took off, I started looking at the fans lining the route, cheering us like heroes. The passion for cycling oozed off them, but they couldn’t know what it was really like,” he wrote in “They didn’t see the terrible hotels, the crazy egos, or all the shit that goes with great expectations. Well, this is how it is.”
Forget ice baths, how about cold showers for a week
And that’s at the WorldTour level. For ProTeam or Continental squads, it can be even worse. Former Canadian national champion Andrew Randell had a horrible time in 2002 at the Tour of Montenegro. The weather was foul for most of the week-long stage race, which is never fun.
“After a cold and rainy opening day, all we were looking for was a hot shower. Imagine our shock when there wasn’t any. And no…
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