Professional cyclists become quite accustomed to the epic, long travel days to races. It comes with the territory. Sometimes you get lucky. In my case, lucky looks like a flight from Girona around 11am to Brussels. I take a cab to the Girona airport and have a short transfer to my race hotel in Belgium. Easy peasy.
Then I have the epic days, where I’m up at 4:30am to catch a 5am bus for a 6:30am flight. Upon arrival, it’s two trains and a car transfer before I reach my final destination – approximately ten hours later. So, how do we get through these travel days relatively unstressed and not bored out of our minds? Here are my five top tips that will help any long travel experience become slightly more bearable.
Pack healthy snacks
I am known as that person who always has her drink bottle and a bag of nuts just in case I get hungry whilst out and about. So have some healthy snacks. My top choices are a mixed bag of nuts, seeds and dried fruit, some homemade banana bread (compliments of my amazing roommate Carlee) and fresh fruit. Travel with snacks allows you to avoid buying expensive, fatty (but occasionally very tasty) airport food when hunger strikes.
Bring a water bottle
I am always conscious of staying hydrated wherever I am. It’s easy to get caught out these days because you can’t take water or other liquids through security. My solution? I pack empty water bottles. I also bring along some Osmo as I need something extra in my bottle (to avoid flushing out too many salts and minerals by drinking too much plain water)
Make use of podcasts/e-readers
I am all about the podcasts and my kindle these days. I love music, but sometimes it is nice to break it up a bit, and for me, learn something. I often joke I have “cycling brain” because all I think about is bike, bike, bike…food, sleep…and bike, bike, bike. My favourites podcast at the moment are Stuff You Should Know, Serial and This American Life. Hamish and Andy are awesome too, if you’re in to the Aussie sense of humor. As for books, I’m currently in the middle of reading Escape from Camp 14 about North Korea and Sweat. Think. Go Faster. about sports nutrition. I’m always looking for recommendations, so if you’re listening to or reading anything good, shout out to me in the comments.
Wear compression socks
Take note triathletes. Yes, compression socks are fantastic for travel but not to race or train in. All jokes aside, I always pull out the compression socks (my team uses Compressport) when I get on the plane, and I keep them on untill I get to the race hotel. I swear by them!
Invest in noise cancelling headphones and eye mask
Although expensive, noise cancelling headphones are possibly the best purchase I have made in maintaining my sanity. They will cancel out the crying baby, the overly loud person who wants everyone to hear their conversation, the woman with the hyena cackle. Noise cancelling headphones, coupled with an eye mask can trick your body and mind into thinking you are not cramped on a RyanAir flight with your legs up to your eyeballs. Personally, I picked out a pair of hot pink David Guetta edition Dr. Dre Beats but the top-end brands are fairly interchangeable.
What else do you do to make it through a long travel day relatively unscathed?
Loren Rowney is a professional rider for Velocio-SRAM. With the team since its inception (as Specialized-lululemon), the South-African born Australian lives in Girona, Spain during the European cycling season. The tattoo on her wrist in the picture above says “I Believe” in Greek and is Loren’s personal motto.