Image: ©TDW Sport
Being Australian has limited benefits when it comes to professional cycling in Europe; however, one of them is that I have an endless summer. While the Europeans are preparing for next season with cross-country skiing, riding a ‘cyclocross’ bike or relocating to Southern Spain in search of the sun, I am back in Australia training in the summer. Then, just as sunrise starts to take a little longer and the nights begin to get chilly, I head back to Europe for the Spring races.
As a result of this, I have never seen snow. I mean, I have seen the leftovers of it on the ground, but I have never actually seen snow falling from the sky. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I am supposed to be looking out for. Most people from Europe don’t believe me when I tell them, but where I live, the lowest temperatures on a winter’s day are in the mid-20’s Celsius. I never even owned a puffy jacket.
Every year, the team equips me with all the cycling kit that I could possibly need. This includes near endless amounts of winter warmers, jackets, gloves and rain gear. I think this is all thrown in to accommodate the Dutchies with all their complaining about how cold it is training in the Netherlands. The first time I even open my winter kit is at the first European training camp of the season. Before this, I beg for more summer kits.
When it rains in Australia, a rain jacket is redundant. If you put a jacket on during rain in summer, you will end up wetter than if you didn’t because you will be sweating so heavily. Rain is a welcome relief because it cools you down. Even then, the temperature barely drops below 30°C. In Europe, it is a totally different story. If it rains, it gets cold…typically really, really cold.
I honestly don’t know how the European riders train during the winter or when it’s raining. Most guys say they use a trainer. Personally, I couldn’t think of anything more boring. This year, I have spent a grand total of two hours on a trainer. That’s less time than what most pros do in a single session.
I cannot stand putting on heaps of extra layers just so I can ride outside. I feel like the Michelin Man. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that this week I am going to need my rain bag. I am in Bergen, Norway, for the Tour des Fjords where it rains more often than it doesn’t. It is supposed to be summertime, but I am walking around in a warm jacket. It’s cold, it’s wet, and it will be like this all week. I spent an hour on the trainer today while other teams braved the weather and went riding outside. Maybe I need to forego my endless summer this year and try to ‘toughen up’ during the winter. Then again... No thanks!
Chris Williams rides for Team Novo Nordisk - the world's first all-diabetes professional cycling team.