By Athlete Ambassador, Soren Meeuwisse
Racing in Europe is a completely different story than North American racing. Aside from the actual race itself, there is a lot of important lifestyle details you must keep in mind leading into a big race you have flown over the ocean for. Whether you are staying in a tiny European Inn or you are in the comfort of your own home, you generally shouldn’t introduce anything new into your pre-race routine or diet. This is made especially difficult in Europe when you are usually staying in a tiny inn room (barely big enough for the single bed itself and you have your bike, bike bag, and big luggage), and you must eat out at foreign language restaurants (when translating goes wrong, you’re in for a surprise meal). When athletes have very specific things they like to or need to eat leading into a race, it’s hard to accommodate with little resources or options.
Here is a list of small things to pack that will make a big difference:
1. Your own pillow – I would recommend a full size pillow that can roll up to be portable. This is handy for air/car travel days, but also for hotel sleeping because the pillows provided are usually not what you are used to. This may cause unwanted neck pains or trouble sleeping.
2. Your own towel – A smaller one will do. Some places don’t provide enough towels, or you can bring this to race site to clean up after rides/race.
3. Rice cooker – Make sure it’s actually a European rice cooker that fits the wall plug in and can handle the European voltage. You can cook anything with a simple rice cooker! Inventive alternatives include: egg boiler, meat cooker, slow cooker, oatmeal cooker, etc.
4. Tupperware – Used as travel bowl, plate, or to pack up leftovers or that day’s lunch.
5. Travel utensils – Very handy along with your Tupperware and rice cooker as you can make and eat a full meal in your tiny, ill-equipped closet room.
6. Travel mug – For your much needed coffee or tea. If any mugs/glasses are provided where you stay, Euro mugs are always tiny, and if you’re anything like me… only the large ones will do!
7. Natural Peanut Butter – Peanut butter is a rare find in the small European grocery stores (ya there really isn’t superstores like we have in Canada), but if you are lucky enough to find a small jar, it is never the healthy natural PB. Many athletes love peanut butter and it’s a great, usual snack to have while travelling.
8. Small foam roller – Just because you’re travelling doesn’t mean those muscles don’t need the same care as at home… Quite the opposite actually! The travel, pre-race training, and racing means that your muscles may be tighter than usual and need to be in top shape for your performance! Rolling and stretching the same as you do at home is key for recovery and injury prevention.
I could go on with this list for much longer! I am only on my third trip to Europe for World-level racing, and I’m always learning more tips through experience and older racers about making life on the road easier. I hope this helps you on your travels!