Hosting a Bike Racing Team

This week we're playing host to a team of elite cyclists, here in Wisconsin for the Tour of America's Dairyland.  We've never had anything to do with bike racing before, but we do have some empty beds, so it seemed natural that we invite them into our home for a few days.  These are generally clean cut, non smoking, non partying guys and ladies who take their cycling and health seriously.  It has been an enormous pleasure getting to know more about them personally and their sport.

We attended our first race the other night at Grafton.  There are races all over the area during the week, and each course is a bit different.  The 90 minute race we saw was on a course just short of a mile long.  There were about 130 riders.  This means that the cyclists are very close to one another as they race, which can lead to accidents.  The weather hasn't been the greatest this week either, with rain and fog, but at least during the races, it's been pretty good.

The whole cycling lifestyle is interesting.  These are people who in some cases do it full time, and rely on sponsorship to keep them fed, housed, and out racing. Others have jobs, but do it on the weekends.  We've been able to ask lots of questions, "why do you shave your legs? what do you eat before a race? what happens if you get hurt?"  and the answers are forthcoming.  Our son has enjoyed having them here in the  house and can hardly wait for them to get up every morning so he can hang out with them.

They travel with bikes in a rental vehicle, so the bikes are taken apart every day to fit into a bike bag, that can also be used for air travel.  They keep food in the car, and vitamin supplements that can be used after a race.  Team members live in various places and meet at the race cities.  Our riders live in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  There are other team members who come to different races, so it's not always the same guys racing together.  All of them have been injured at some point.  Riding in wet conditions seems to be the worst.  The skin is shaven so that if there's an injury, they are better able to clean the wounds.  They also have bike malfunctions which cause problems and may cost the race. Unfortunately our riders faced both injuries and bike malfunctions during the week.

Being a host family is incredibly simple.  You provide housing- bed, shower, laundry, refrigerator and cooking facilities.  They do their own meal preparation and come and go as they need to.  They eat lots of carbs, fresh veggies, and fruits.  It's great to have your own kids see how they eat if you need a positive role model!  Our riders were kind enough to set up a little ride/race for our son just on the block where we live.  He LOVED it!  I'd recommend it to anyone who has a few spare beds.


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