Veal Re­port

Living Out of a Bag

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - BY ED VEAL

Ihave been a part of the Cana­dian men's Track En­durance pro­gram for three full years now. It seems like yes­ter­day that I flew to Los An­ge­les for that first try­out. Over the past three years, for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons, we have seen tal­ented ath­letes come and go. One rea­son, re­gard­less of tal­ent, is that the life­style isn't for ev­ery­one. Trav­el­ing all over the world com­pet­ing and tak­ing part in train­ing camps take its toll. Be­ing away from loved ones, friends and pets is a sacri­fice, to say the least.

Though I wasn't ex­actly sure what I had signed up for when I first started, I have a much bet­ter han­dle on how to deal with and even en­joy living out of a bag. My view of things now is that my life was turned up­side down for the bet­ter. Living out of a bag isn't for ev­ery­one, but I want to share some valu­able lessons I've learnt mov­ing from ho­tel room to ho­tel room.

Things change. Em­brace dif­fer­ences and be flex­i­ble in new sit­u­a­tions and sur­round­ings. It is great to ex­pe­ri­ence new ar­eas and cul­tures. Expect things to be dif­fer­ent, soak up the at­mos­phere and re­ally try to be­come one with your sur­round­ings. I fully expect my cof­fee to taste dif­fer­ent ev­ery­where I go, and I'm now open to it tak­ing way longer to get it than I'm used to back home. Take some time to learn a few new words so as to fit in a bit bet­ter, and slow down and smile if com­mu­ni­ca­tion breaks down.

An­other thing that helps with trav­el­ing to new places is ask­ing ques­tions and be­com­ing fa­mil­iar with your sur­round­ings. No one ex­pects you to know the en­tire his­tory of their town or city, but if you take in­ter­est in the peo­ple and their home, it will be ap­pre­ci­ated. Make sure to lis­ten and do your best to try to un­der­stand them. Don't expect to grasp it all right away, and also re­al­ize you don't know as much as you may think.

Try­ing my best to fit in, make friends and not be an out­sider has worked ev­ery­where I've been in life. Give it a shot. Ex­plore. Get out on the bike and take it all in. Be­lieve it or not, I also like to get out on foot and do the same. Look at the lo­cal ar­chi­tec­ture, the his­tory in the road­way and take a deep breath of that ma­nure-scented or smog-filled air. I don't like be­ing spun around, not know­ing where anything is. Call it sur­vival in­stinct or what­ever, but know­ing the floor plan of the ho­tel, the stairs, ex­its, the park­ing lot, the ma­jor in­ter­sec­tions and lo­cal high­ways, in­clud­ing the route to the best sand­wich shop in town, re­ally puts me at ease. I al­ways make time to walk around and ex­plore my sur­round­ings, es­pe­cially if it in­cludes a sandy beach.

Talk to peo­ple, face to face. Share ex­pe­ri­ences live in per­son with your coaches and team­mates, but also make time to com­mu­ni­cate with fam­ily and friends back home. A solid WiFi con­nec­tion should make it very easy to say hello and see a smil­ing, lov­ing face from the other side of the world. It's good to know what is go­ing on out­side of your sport­ing bub­ble. A lit­tle dis­trac­tion or a good bar­rel laugh can make all the dif­fer­ence to your mood and gen­eral well-be­ing. One cau­tion though – your mo­bile de­vice shouldn't be your ev­ery­thing while away. Put the phone down and turn it off as much as you can. Con­nect with the hu­man be­ings around you. In the past few years, I've been lucky enough to en­joy the com­pany of and to bond with so many in­cred­i­ble peo­ple on this jour­ney. Way too many spe­cial mo­ments would have been missed if I was face down in my phone.

My life was turned up­side down for the bet­ter.

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