It has been a long year but fortunately the end of the season is fast approaching. With World Championships in Qatar coming much later than normal, many riders are struggling to stay motivated with some even forfeiting their spot at the biggest single-day race of the year, knowing they won't be 100% ready. For me, last week saw my final European race for 2016, so I am keen to get back to Australia.
With only one stage race in China left for me, like most riders at this point in the year, I am already thinking about the off-season and where I can take a holiday. Many pros get to the end of the season and they simply do not want to touch their bikes. Some even go weeks without turning the pedals. However, I have discovered I don’t like to stop riding for an extended period.
I can only handle around three days off the bike before I am itching to get back in the saddle. The reason for this is simple: I love riding my bike. Pre-season is my favourite time of the year as I get to do long rides, find new roads and not worry about the numbers. Also, riding my bike helps keep me healthy, and that’s good motivation to keep riding.
Consequently, whenever I go on holidays, I take my bike with me. In fact, in the last four years, I can remember only two holidays where I didn’t have my bike with me, and that was probably because my wife put her foot down and said it needs to stay at home.
When selecting a holiday location at home in Australia, there are several things that I need to consider. It generally has to be within riding distance so that I can set off on my bike in the early hours of the morning before my wife drives the car to meet me. This usually gives me a 200km or so radius to work with but in the past I have been known to ride only halfway before being picked up with the car.
I also try to make sure that there are plenty of roads to choose from as well as avoiding the city center so that I don’t have to deal with traffic. The accommodation needs to have laundry so that I can wash my cycling kit and it doesn’t hurt to have a balcony to keep the bike out of the way. Half of my suitcase is usually taken up by cycling clothes, spare tubes, and energy bars and you can never forget to throw the floor pump into the back of the car.
If I have to take a flight, then there is a whole other kettle of fish to consider such as luggage fees, tools for assembling and disassembling my bike and hiring a car that is big enough to fit my bike.
Currently, I am researching my next location and making sure that I can ride there via smaller back roads. Do I call it a holiday? Or do I call it a cycling holiday? Or do I call it a training camp?
Chris Williams rides for Team Novo Nordisk - the world's first all-diabetes professional cycling team.