Life on the Road

Cycling is a unique sport in many ways from the access fans have to the athletes to the ever-changing courses, terrain and distances. In my mind it is also unique in that during competition season we race A LOT. This isn’t a sport where you race 6 or 7 World Cups a year and finish off the season with World Championships. A cyclist can easily log between 50 and 80 race days per season, with the season running from February through September. This translates to quite a few days away from home, when travel days and training camps are thrown into the mix.

At some one-day races, such as GP Gatineau or the Philly Cycling Classic, we stay in hotels. While it can be quite nice to relax in a nice big hotel bed, it does get tiring eating out for every meal. This leads to some inventive cooking, if you can call it that, in the hotel room. Breakfast and lunch are fairly easy to put together in a hotel room with a fridge, microwave and coffee pot. Making dinner with those appliances requires a little bit more creativity. With microwave rice, a pre-cooked chicken and a few vegetables it is doable.

For longer races we are fortunate enough to be put up in host housing. Host housing is quite a phenomenal thing when you think about it. Families, who are complete strangers to us, welcome us into their homes and pretty much let us take over. We take over spare bedrooms, office pullouts, spare floor space as well as the kitchen. The houses are pretty extraordinary at some of the races – we might even get a pool house all to ourselves. Typically, families don’t have enough extra space to house a whole team so we will be split up between three or four houses. With this we get to avoid the hotel cooking and make use of a full kitchen – usually a gourmet kitchen. I don’t think I have stayed at any host housing this year that didn’t have a massive gas stove. It can be pretty funny trying to get used to a new kitchen. Usually every cupboard gets opened multiple times trying to find a specific appliance, utensil or dish. At one host house I stayed at, they had a fancy microwave built into the island that pulled out like a drawer. Or at least, I thought it pulled out (and had been doing so) – until I was gently told it might be easier if I used the automatic open button!

Hotel cooking can be quite the adventure and I still can’t believe how generous hosts are in letting us have the run of their houses. At the same time, nothing quite beats getting to sleep in your own bed. I am pretty excited that Global Relay has brought high level racing to the Vancouver area. I’m sure all the local riders would agree that it is a treat to get to wake up in my own bed, cook in my own kitchen (even if it is a poor cousin to host housing kitchens), race hard, and head back to my own bed. Home court advantage is not something Canadian riders get very often and I’m looking forward to making the most of it at the Global Relay Grand Prix. And for the riders from out-of-town, rest assured that they greatly appreciate any families who open their homes to them or hotels they get put up in. A cycling team is a bit of a travelling circus and we appreciate anyone who takes us in.


Denise Ramsden is a Canadian road cyclist from Yellowknife, NT. She has represented Canada at the Junior and Elite World Championships and the Pan American Games. In 2012 she was a member of the Canadian Olympic team.