A typical PRO road team requires a lot of stuff, from bikes and wheels to kits and food. A well-funded team receives this by the truckload early in the season: shelves stocked, bikes built, tires glued, and kits disseminated. For the entire season, inventories of gear are kept in some nondescript, bunker-like warehouse on the edge of town. This is known as the Service Course.
When the team travels to races, the trip begins by backing trucks and team cars up to the Service Course to load up gear before rolling out in search of a victory. When in the field, team trucks and buses serve as the rolling Service Course and small parts, pressure washers, vices, grinding wheels, spare parts, spare frames, and spare kits all have a home in the organized and spotless rolling team shop.
But what about the small time team, or the independent rider? Anyone who has ever traveled to a race or even traveled to merely ride knows that the rental car and the hotel room are the Service Course. If hotel management ever knew just how resourceful bike racers are, they would ban us like pets and rock stars.
I have built bikes, rebuilt BBs, mixed bottles, glued tubulars, done laundry, cooked for a crew of 10, and hosted post-race parties all from the confines of team HQ – the hotel.
The hotel room is your sanctuary, your temple for the pre-race prep. Ride the rollers, hang your freshly washed kits in the window, and wash the nasty bike that just endured a warm-up of torrential rain and toothpaste-thick mud. Wheels off, bike on the fork tips, shower on: done… then try to get the big chunks to go down the drain. Gear bags and travel cases stack up in the room’s corners like freight containers at port; horizontal surfaces become home to the grocery and messenger bags containing the personal items that help us adhere to the pre-race rituals, attempting to bring the comfort that comes from routine.
Like many of you, I seek out the extended stay types with a fridge, microwave, stove, and often, a common living room area with a couch. The added space is always in-demand and offering up the couch helps out a mate and can offset the travel expenses.
Having a PRO bus and support staff would be ideal, but for those of us who live the dream at our own expense, the hotel room is our beacon in foreign cities and a warm embrace during the cold cyclocross months.