Today’s edition of Paris-Nice was hard. It’s 9:30 at night as I peck away at this entry and my legs are erring on the side of sore. Thankfully for Andy, who you’ll meet here below, my fingers hurt slightly less and my brain is still chugging along smooth like butter. Aforementioned Andy asked on Strava how the heck you recover from a day like today. Especially this day in age, this is a super question. So let me dive right in before I pass out.
As soon as a stage finishes, we’re quickly trying to escape the barrage of people pouncing on us for a bidon (that is, in France, they want a bidon, in Italy it’s boracha, in Belgium… well I guess they ask for bottles since they dabble in English there). With all due respect, we’re seeing cross-eyed after the day’s effort so smiling for cameras and being picked apart like indefensible meat from vultures to satisfy someone’s appetite free cycling swag doesn’t rate highly on our to-do list. Sorry to be crass. We’re tired.
Onto the bus and usually you’ll either chug a recovery shake or jump right into the shower, depending on if there’s a line. Some folks make their drink mix with soy milk or regular “white gold” from a tried and true cow udder, but I opt for water since I do a whey based protein recovery drink. It’s delicious, and especially sates my wary muscles.
A shower is a magical thing coming so quickly on the heals of a hard effort. To rinse the road grime off your wary body, out of your ears and eyes and nose is euphoric. Shower: done.
Soon the bus is rolling and we’re sorting our day’s laundry into bags. Soigneurs are a wonderful asset and will have these bags whisked away and into the laundry in no-time-flat upon arrival at the hotel. Their ability to remove a lot of the mindless chores that would otherwise take away from our time is invaluable. Thank you swannies! That goes on their laundry list (yes, pun intended) of things to do to pamper us as much as possible throughout the day/week(s).
There’s usually (…hopefully) a bowl of some type of carbohydrate rich food waiting for us as the bus rolls towards the evening’s hotel. This being an Italian centric team, you can safely guess pasta will be available. Olive oil and salt make for great accompaniment. Thankfully they’ve been mixing it up this week, so potatoes and rice are also occasional options. We even had some rice intermixed with corn, peas, plus diced ham and cheese one day. T’was delightful if for nothing else than the variety.
The fridge has yogurt, all the water you could ever want, Coke, Fanta, and, well that’s it. Oh, one day I saw some iced tea. Actually there’s usually a quarter wheel of Parmesan cheese but taking a bite of that doesn’t sounds terribly appetizing. Fruit is usually bouncing around somewhere too.
Here’s a shot taken from the back of the bus, looking forward out the front window which captures a lot. You can see a teammate gnoshing a plate of food, we’re watching the end of Tirreno-Adriatico on TV, and we’re stuck in the maze of traffic as the exodus of cars winds out of the city center. Dirty laundry, towels, and anything else that looks misplaced is on account of us being treated like babies and the soigneurs will soon clean up after our mess. Have I said thank you yet? Grazie mille rigazzi!
Upon arrival, we’re immediately given our room assignments, by, you guessed it, a soigneur patiently waiting for us. I’ve been rooming with Argentinian awesome guy, Sebastian Haedo, new to the team this year. He’s always happy, forever smiling, and brings some good vibes to our room. Suitcases are waiting in each room – again, thanks to the swannies – and we’re given a massage right away or are second (or third) in line for a good rub. There’s an order of operations what pros prefer: massage, stretching, or a visit from the chiro. Massage is always available, stretching you can obviously do on your solo, and a chiro is occasionally available. I’m a massage-first kind of guy, with stretching and the super visit from a chiro in a dead heat. Unless there’s something clearly not right with my body, perhaps after a recent visit with the pavement. Then I’ll feel well tweaked and a good chiro session is in order.
There’s a food room belonging to one of the sougneurs. I can surely guess with about 98% accuracy which team is which based just on their food room. And surely with 100% accuracy the national origin of the team. Abundant (or absent) peanut butters, maple syrup, certain cereals, are all giveaways. The importance (ergo, cost) of olive oil is a serious indicator. And speculoos means the team is has a generous swanny or else the director hasn’t recently visited the food room to confiscate (read: eat) it.
If I have any energy whatsoever, I’ll do some stretching and then it’s off to dinner, typically at 8pm. I’m not kidding about that; staying in bed often sounds luxurious as compared to standing up and stretching for three minutes.
Back to the room right around internet o’clock. Write a blog about recovery, go pass out for the evening because breakfast is at 8am.
And before I bid you farewell, I will note that I could talk about breakfast at length, but it’s now 10:07 and I’m amply exhausted. I did want to include a picture of breakfast though, because to this day, I still find it fascinating. Pasta for breakfast:
Some folks can do it, but I fervently try to avoid it. Which is why you see an empty bowl of oatmeal, previously occupied by oatmeal, yogurt, a banana, a few nuts, a spoonful of rice, and some raisins in the foreground. Yes that is mine and yes, that’s my Starbucks cup and empty Starbucks Via. Who else would I happily pay $1 for a cup of delicious, instant coffee? Funny enough, I would pay a lot of people that kind of money for such a product! But currently only Starbucks is pulling it off. Any other takers out there in the coffee world, I would pay you 10% over Starbucks to make a similar product! In the meantime, thanks SBUX. And the aforementioned main point of this photo: a heaping plate of pasta, olive oil, and a few scoops of Philadelphia cream cheese for my teammate, right. Breakfast!
I’m beat. See you tomorrow.