They spend more than half the year on the road, in hotel rooms and rental homes, across the US and around the world, traveling on their bikes, in airplanes and vans. The riders and staff members of Rally Cycling are bike racing pros, yes. But they’re travel pros, too.
When they hit the road, nearly every member of the team brings along something that’s best described as a tool. It’s an item that helps them adapt to their constantly changing surroundings, that they can rely on, that they know will be there for them.
Most of the team’s members don’t lavish large amounts of sentimentality on these personal tools — after all, on the road things get broken and lost. But everyone said that their tool, in its own small way, helped them do their job better.
Whether you’re a competitive athlete, an avid traveler, or just trying to be a pro at life, there might be a tool here that helps you get the job done a little bit better, too.
Eric Young’s Lululemon Pants
No matter how much he packed, racer Eric Young, 28, found that on the road he only used only two shirts and one pair of pants. So he began limiting his travel clothing to just those necessities. For the past two years, he’s worn the exact same pair of Lululemon pants. “I wear them about half the days of the year,” Young says, considering how much he travels for races. “I expect to wear them for the rest of my racing career.”
Zane Freebairn’s Moleskine Notebook and Fountain Pen
With a heavy brass fountain pen and a well-worn Moleskine notebook, women’s team mechanic Zane Freebairn catalogs quotes of the day, the ones he finds personally amusing. “I write down who said the quote, but I don’t write down any context,” he says, that’s “the only rule.” Sample passage: “I feel like I should be doing something. I’m going to go buy a hot dog.” Freebairn scribbles each quote with a Karas Kustoms pen. “The clips of my pens kept breaking, so I invested in something sturdy and replaceable,” he says.
Pat McCarty’s Portable Espresso Set-Up
In the coffee-loving professional bike racing circuit, boutique beans and hand grinders abound. But perhaps only men’s team director Pat McCarty is fully capable of pulling a near perfect espresso in a hotel room. His hefty electric grinder travels with the team’s trailer, and his Nomad portable espresso machine uses a seesaw pump motion, a pressure gauge, and a proprietary nozzle to produce a fresh espresso anywhere, anytime. “It makes a nice crema,” McCarty says. “I pulled three shots this morning.”
Caitlin Laroche’s Red Boots
“I’ve had red boots like these since I was a baby,” says racer Caitlin Laroche, 27. Growing up in Tucson, AZ, Laroche loved riding horses, and even, she says, blushing, “wanted to be a horse.” In college, Laroche developed a passion for riding bikes, and began wearing the red ropers again. She says she loves the way she feels in them, and has always liked red. The boots even helped her meet her fiancé, former pro racer Michael Creed, who told her, “Your boots were the first thing I noticed.”
Mateo Dal-Cin’s Pillow
In 2013, racer Mateo Dal-Cin, 26, found he couldn’t sleep well on an ever-changing array of hotel pillows, so he began bringing his own. Ever since, no matter where he is, he’s put his head down on the same pillow and pillowcase. “It’s one of the memory foam type with the sort of wave shape,” he says. “My mom bought three of them because they were a good price and I was the only one in our household that liked it so I acquired the other two.” (He has two identical pillowcases, one that stays at home, and one that travels with him.) Dal-Cin’s so dedicated to his pillow that, this year, he says, “When I found it didn’t fit in my travel bag, I had to cut eight inches off of one end.”
Rob Britton’s Coffee Grinder and Mason Jar
“It was definitely a purchase I thought about at the time,” says racer Rob Britton, 32, who as a first year pro in 2010 spent about $70 on a portable coffee grinder, Aeropress coffee maker, and electric kettle. At the time, the expense constituted a significant portion of his monthly salary. On the road, he nested the set-up in a large glass mason jar, which also served as his coffee mug. Britton’s since become one of North America’s best stage racers, but he still drinks his coffee out of that same humble jar.
Rick Barrow’s Fat City Cycles Yo Eddy Mountain Bike
Though he spends his days working on Rally Cycling’s cutting-edge road and time trial bikes, built almost entirely from carbon fiber and outfitted with electronic shifting, mechanic Rick Barrow’s personal bike is an old classic. According to Wikipedia, an entire page of which is dedicated to the bike, owning an original 1990s Fat City Cycles Yo Eddy, “is the pinnacle for most vintage mountain bike collectors.” But Barrow doesn’t baby his Yo Eddy. At the Tour of the Gila, Barrow says, “I found a little mountain bike park right downtown and rode the trails there almost every morning.”
Emma White’s Silver Necklace
The necklace came to 19-year-old Emma White from a friend four years ago. A slender silver chain with a silver bicycle pendant, the jewelry also included a piece of paper bearing a quote. “It said something like, ‘When things get tough, just keep pedaling,’” recalls White. She’s never without the necklace, and often thinks of that quote.