This article is courtesy of guest author Scott Holland. Photos Courtesy of Martin Schmidt (@__martin_schmidt__).
In the winter I started laying out my spring work travel schedule. See I work from home as am Mechanical Engineer supporting customers remotely for my company. Glamorous I know…. I travel with in the US, Europe and Asia and really I try and stay on top of my active lifestyle while I travel. This year was shaping up to have a crazy few weeks in May and June. In the end I was set to have 12 flights in 6 weeks between the continental US, Europe and China. To an active person most would think oh great I am now going to get fat on bad food and spent too much time in bad hotel gyms. I too thought about that but I also thought I could take advantage of my traveling and see new places on my bike. How are you going to ride your bike in a place you know little about and when are you going to have the time with a crazy work schedule? That was the challenge but it sure beat sitting in a hotel gym with Fox news in the background. So here I am an mechanical engineer with poor writing skills attempting to convey that traveling with your bike when you are on business travel is a great idea. The how, the why, and the what not to do is what I wanted to let people know about.
I travel for work about 1x a month. I tend to have long days packed with meetings or trade shows while on travel yet on social media I get comments from friends and family asking "aren't you there for work? Or "aren't you supposed to be working" there are 24hrs in a day and without the added responsibilities of family life while on travel (kids, chores, pets, groceries) there is most definitely an hour in the day to seek out a quick spin if not more if you want.
One key lesson I learned is use jet lag to your advantage if possible. West to east jet lag, when traveling from the West to Europe you will be up before dawn due to jet lag anyway. I usually find myself up at 3:30-4am the first few days in Europe after flying there from the west coast. Take advantage, get out of the hotel as soon as there is light! I also usually find that after a days work or a trade show that everyone goes back to their room to freshen up and then dinner is at 7-8pm (9-10pm in Italy) take is the perfect time for a spin. Have your gear ready to go and don't dilly dally!
Why bother with all this? Cycling is my sporting passion, equaled only by the love and passion I have for my family. If I have to be away from my wife and kids there is no other way I'd rather spend my time. It helps me decompress from a stressful day at work and there is no better way to see a city then by bike. Cycling allows you to connect with the locals maybe it's happening upon a busy swimming hole at a river's edge lose the socks, shoes, and jersey, tuck those in straps in and hop in, no reason to be shy. Or maybe you get lost and stop into a local cafe for a coffee and some directions luck may have it that you'll learn of a killer local climb with a view or a fun trail along a river's edge. By far I've best enjoyed connecting with local cyclists whether it has been chatting up someone on their commute home from work or happening upon a local group ride and hopping in on an adventure. Just try not to get dropped and get lost but inevitably this will happen so be prepared (I'll talk more about being prepared in later editions)
I have one recent experience that stands out the most, each of the last 5 years I've traveled to Nuremberg Germany each May for a week long conference. Riding many times in this town I've grown accustomed it it's cobbled streets, gravel paths, and fun urban single track. But this year my co-worker (who shares his love of cycling also) thought we'll try and break from our normal routes. We heard of a local group ride that rolled out from right by our hotel at 7:10pm with sunset at ~9:30pm we figured it would be a 2hrs midweek hammerfest. We were right but it was much more the usual local mid-week workout with town sign sprints and vicious climbs. The Schleudergang Biervergleich (http://schleudergang.org) as it's called was a mix of men and women, eager young guns on carbon di2 bikes itching to sprint it out and older gents on classic steel frames with downtube shifters.
For most of the ride the group rotates thru like a German clock, moving at a good clip (20-22mph) always with the leader of the group Michael at the helm. Where many group rides suffer from obsessive yoyo'ing and dodgy moves Michael has the respect of the group, the elder states man who knows the roads, the stories behind them, and the history of the region.
But when Michael swings off at the base of a climb or at the start of a sprint point it's go time. It's a delight and how a great group ride should be! ~30 miles into the ride we stopped at a bier garden where everyone partakes, including myself who doesn't drink often especially while riding) people are easy to talk to even though it's not in their native tongue. It's starting to get dark when my coworker pulls up google maps and we realize we are not the expected 3-5 miles from the hotel but 25 miles from the hotel and it's going to be dark in about 10mins.... now slightly buzzed and a hair nervous we roll out into the darkening German countryside.
I'd only road cycled in the dark a few times on solo work commutes but in a group of lights I could see quite well and was very content, till we hit a sprint section and my one by setup with 34t ring had me spinning 140 rpm before getting dropped in the thick Germany forest... (is this why they call it the Black Forest) armed only with a small blinker light and a dead cell phone I rolled at 10mph till I got to the next village and has some street lights. I turned a corner and there was the entire group! All waiting at a stop light, all waiting for me! Slightly embarrassed but mostly honored they waited as I had only just met them and they had the patience and courtesy to wait for me and my "kid gears" we all had a laugh and rolled back to town.
By the time we got near our hotel my co-worker and I realized that it was 11pm and we didn't eat dinner. We talked the owner of a local doner kabob joint (Greek Gyros) into staying open for one last sale, we crushed that food and headed to bed with plans to meet at 6am to ride again the next morning. That night is why I ride and why I travel with my bike (even though it can be a pain).
In the next installment I will cover how to pack and what type of bike to bring.