Living the life of a pro cyclist over here in Europe can get a little distorted at times.  It’s easy to think things are hard, life is complicated, there’s so much chaos or even this is bloody boring.  And then you look over at the team next to you like I did when warming up for the time trial last week at the Energiewacht Tour in Holland.  You see athletes setting up their own bikes on the trainer to do their race prep.  Made me feel pretty small when I had just finished asking Beth, our soigneur extraordinaire, for a water bottle.  Yes, I asked for a bottle of water on my bike that was all set up for me and ready to go by Olli our mechanic.  Needless to say, I got my own water from the cooler.


Then there was the team time trial.  Our race director Ronny had gone and driven the course a few days before when he had a moment to spare.  He wanted to make sure we had all the information on the course necessary to put in as much time to the other teams as possible.  Come race time, he guided us though each corner, bump, patch of dirt, cobble and twist in the road with calm instruction from the car via our race radios.  It was the coolest thing to listen and just ride as hard as we could, knowing each and every difficulty that was to come.  There were no surprises along the way.  We’d raced a windy, hectic road race stage in the morning.  After this and before the TTT, we enjoyed a shower and a nap in the hotel rooms they booked for a few hours near the start.


I had to wonder what other teams had this advantage and more that our team offers.  I’ve never experienced the kind of care and attention to detail in my athletic life that the Specialized-lululemon Team offers.


I’ve never had my laundry done for me while racing.  I still can’t believe I give my little mesh bag after each race to Beth or Nicole, and it comes back clean.  Perspective again when I think to the email my friend and former speed skating teammate Christine Nesbitt sent me last week.  She’d just finished winning the world cup overall title, the final world cup races, two gold and a silver medal at the world speed skating championships and who knows what else.  She mentioned how nice it is to be home and do laundry in the machine rather than washing everything in the bathtub at the hotel.  And here I am at this little race in Northern Holland so spoiled.


I remember back to so many years on the national team in cycling and even trade teams, and cannot think to a time I had this much support.  I think back to the staff I’ve worked with and never has there been so much excitement and true investment into the success we have.  It’s a wonderful thing to come back to the team vehicles and feel the energy and pride of a team victory.  That I am a part of this makes me not only feel lucky but proud, too.


Considering I am here back into the thick of racing, crashing, good races and bad, and feel the encouragement and advice from my teammates and staff makes me want to be better than I am and better than I’ve been.  I only hope I can bring some fresh energy into the well oiled machine and add some fire into the mix that’s already plenty potent.


And finally, I think of Peter, who’s out there somewhere in Utah, riding his touring bike through the desert we both love to roam.  I think of his minimal supplies and gear.  There’s nobody making his bottles or washing his gear.  No race food prepared.  No brown rice and steamed vegetables, gluten free galore for the non-wheat eater in me, at every meal thanks to someone like Beth.  No race-ready bike thanks to Olli and Magnus.  No emails of encouragement from Jens our director who’s not here and Kristy our team owner who watches each move we make from afar, also sending notes of encouragement along the way.  No, Peter’s out there alone in the cold, wind and snow, facing the elements and happy to be out there having the experience.


I really have nothing to complain about and everything to be grateful for.


But what I’m really grateful for is the perspective I get when looking around at other teams.  The girls of Specialized-lululemon actually have some fun and share more than just the epic race experiences.  We’re sharing a journey that has already offered a multitude of success around the globe.  We’re making a huge charitable initiative a reality for Right to Play (to be announced soon!) and we’re showing how beautiful and positive our sport can be to the world.




I am grateful, I am Specialized.


I am one lucky girl.

© 2023. Clara Hughes. All Rights Reserved. Site Design | SGD