For the past few years, January to September tends to pass in a whirlwind of new places. Between training camps and far-flung races, my passport gets almost as much exercise as I do.
So far, this year is no exception; since January 1st, I’ve traveled to Boulder, Mallorca, Abu Dhabi, Auckland, Australia’s Gold Coast, Cape Town, London and France. I even managed some much needed time at home in New Hampshire. To borrow the words of the Man in Black, “Of travel I’ve had my share, man/ I’ve been everywhere”.
Through my adventures, I’ve learned two all-important lessons: be prepared and be flexible. When I travel, I tow along a bike bag, a large duffel bag and a backpack – the contents of which have to cover my needs in three sports and a wide range of weather conditions. I also have to anticipate my future needs since it can be difficult to quickly source gear.
For example, I’m currently in the French Pyrenees, where finding replacement bike parts or running shoes could be very challenging. Since experience has taught me the importance of preparation (lessons learned the hard, stressful way!), I now travel with what seems like an excessive number of running shoes and a few key bike parts. Although it means that my duffel bag can raise some eyebrows at airline check in and that non-sporting clothes gets left at home, I’m rarely left scrambling for what I need to train and race effectively. I won’t be winning any fashion contests, but I’m at peace with my lackluster travel wardrobe.
In addition to my sport specific gear, my wallet and my passport*, I wouldn’t leave New Hampshire without my technology: my iPhone, my watch and my Wahoo TICKR. Fortunately, all take up less space than that Toblerone I’m always tempted to buy at Duty-Free. With my phone and the TICKR, it’s easy for me to upload my workouts and training routes and track my fitness with the Wahoo apps. The TICKR even counts the calories I’ve burned so I know if I can add that Toblerone to my bag, too. I can share my information with my support team, no matter where I am in the world. I can also upload my training onto third party apps for folks at home to see what my training is like wherever I am. It’s not quite as good as being there in person, but it certainly helps bring us closer!
There’s an obvious limitation to how prepared one can be while traveling; if I towed along everything that I might conceivably require, I would have to bring an entourage to lug around my suitcases. I envision a scenario a la “Coming to America”#, where the pampered Prince Akeem arrives in New York City with countless suitcases and porters. Since I can’t possibly be prepared for everything, I’ve learned the art of flexibility.
Flexibility in travel requires ability to adapt without fuss and with creativity. You are descending down a mountain, the temperature has dropped precipitously and it’s now raining? No problem. Find a plastic bag on the side of the road to stick down your jersey and, if it gets really bad, consider a ride from a stranger^. Show up somewhere in the middle of the night and there’s no food? No problem. Protein powder mixed with maple syrup and raw oats for dinner it is! Bon appétit.
Likewise, I’ve been put into scenarios where I have to creatively source what I need to be able to train. Thanks to the Internet, it has become easier to find resources wherever you are. With a quick search this winter, I was able to find a nearby Wahoo KICKR studio at late notice and get in some great indoor training rides with a group. We’ve also been in a few training camp environments without a proper gym nearby. Instead, you adapt and learn what kinds of strength exercises you can do using your own body weight and whatever heavy objects you can find (rocks, milk jugs, small children), in lieu of weights. For ideas on exercises you can do anywhere, check out Wahoo’s 7 Minute Workout app. While it’s nice to have a perfect training environment, it’s even better to be able to respond to whatever situation you find yourself in and to adapt.
As any road warrior knows, travel is never as easy as being at home. With a well-packed bag and the right attitude, however, you can definitely get in some great training wherever you are. I still have a few more races, a few more destinations and even more duty-free Toblerones singing their siren songs to go. Thankfully I have all the tools that I need to adapt to wherever I am!
*I have to admit that I always pack some items that others might deem extraneous, but I view as necessary. For example, my much-loved coffee pack with grinder and aeropress travels the world with me. Even though Immigration might disagree, it’s of equal importance to my passport. We all have little things that make a huge difference when we travel!
#As a child of the 80s, this is classic movie in my mind. Fellini has nothing on this gem.
^Don’t tell my mom!