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by Verita Stewart
June 29, 2015
Photography by Jered Gruber
WOMEN'S CYCLING BROUGHT TO YOU BY ORBEA
Today’s the last day of Tour of America’s Dairylands (TOAD). I can’t believe it’s over already. We’ve had an awesome time racing together, scoring one podium and several top-tens.
Personally, I’ve been proud of my performances at TOAD. I’ve had a handful of finishes in the top-twenty. I spent some time off front at Schlitz Park, and I rounded out the top-ten on the only road stage –Road America.
Most of these accomplishments have been achieved in the first half of the omnium as the second half has been uneventful on a personal level. My legs have felt like lead and, after witnessing a few nasty crashes, my confidence has wavered.
Despite that, my teammates and I have managed to work to keep BrittLee Bowman inside the top-ten of the omnium, and with only one race left, we want to keep here there. As you read this, I’m getting my “grrrrr” on at the East Tosa Gran Prix in Wauwatosha.
I really can’t believe that my three-week American racing trip is quickly come to a close. I’m sad to be saying goodbye to my teammates, my new friends, tacos, and my host house family, who truly feel like family now. They have been so kind to my adopted team –watching our races, tending to our post-crash injuries and generally welcoming us into their homes and their lives.
Host housing isn’t something that we really do in any sort of formal way in Australia, but from what I’ve gathered, it’s a fairly common practise at races around the States. Essentially, a host family invites a team into their home, and the team lives with the family during the race. Hosts can range from people who happen to have spare space but aren’t really that interested in getting involved with teams on a personal level to people that consider sharing space only the tip of the iceberg of the host housing arrangement.
We’ve been staying with Wouldly and Jill and their cats Chester and Bradford for the past 12 days. They live in a beautiful double story home, right near the centre of Milwaukee. They’ve opened their doors to cyclists every year for the past five years during TOAD.
There are so many advantages to host housing over hotels. First – you get all the comforts of home. You can cook in a kitchen, chill out on the couch, and (if you’re lucky) sleep in a super comfortable bed. Host families can tell you the best places to grocery shop, stop for coffee and eat a post-race dinner. Some host families will cook a shared meal or two, and most are eager to hear all about your racing life (and your real life, too). I’ve heard of teams that return to the same family year-after-year-after-year-after-year or riders that keep in touch with hosts long after they’ve wrapped up their careers.
Of course – when hosts have generously opened their homes, it’s hugely important to treat their homes with the utmost respect. Most of what I outline below should be fairly obvious –but the obvious can become not-quite-as obvious when you’re on your limit following 11 straight days of racing.
Who else has had host housing experiences? I’m especially keen to hear from hosts who might want to add to my lists.
Quick aside: We lost Sara Yancovitz to a nasty crash during the ninth day of racing at TOAD. She’s a strong women, and I’m sending her all sorts of positive vibes in her direction. We wish her all the best in her recovery.
The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Securitor. New to the sport, she’s quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.
She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing and hopes to make the leap to the big-leagues sometime soon. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on Twitter and Instagram and Strava.