Manual for Speed recently conducted a survey:
Manual for Speed Survey (MFSS) # 1: Host Housing Amenities Volume One
To conduct this survey we asked MFS’s substantial network of currently-working and non-currently-working professional cyclists about Host Housing. Our sample group included members of Team Exergy, Team CLIF Bar Cycling, Team Stans NoTubes p/b enduranceWERX, Team Garmin-Sharp, as well as several other teams/individuals. Our two-part criteria system was simple: 1) Do you have 5+ years experience racing at the Cat 1/o/PRO level in the United States? 2) Do you have an opinion about what makes a good homestay experience and what makes a bad experience, be it informed, subjective, thoughtful or whatever? Can you tell us in a reasonably articulate manner what you look for, and what you look out for, when it comes to entering and living in a stranger home while traveling throughout small-town America to race bicycles? Based on the data returned to us, we created two lists: Good Amenities & Bad Amenities. Neither list is complete or exact. They are living lists, and as such they will likely be added to, augmented, redacted, retraced etc. Neither list is organized by priority.
Host housing is a funny thing, because it depends on the standards of the riders, and in case you’re not aware, bike riders can have very low standards. There were years when I was stoked for floor space, and a sleeping bag lived in the trunk of my car. You want a pillow? What are you, Queen Elizabeth? I spent a couple months on a friend’s porch because his apartment didn’t have any floor space when his bed folded out from the wall. Sorry ladies, I’m taken.
- Unfettered, uncoerced, consensual and lawful access to Host’s automobile. Excepting those times when a teammate crashes the Host’s automobile. See Bad Amenities #1.
- Air conditioning.
- Wifi. “What are we supposed to do at dinner, talk to each other?”—Phil Gaimon, Team Garmin-Sharp
- Quality coffee.
- Espresso Machine. “This one time we showed up at a host house and there was no coffee maker and it was super weird. Mostly weird because they had a rice cooker and they had a juicer. Come on, WHO DOESNT HAVE A COFFEE MAKER. So anyway, we bought them one as a gift. Is that offensive?”—Becca Schepps, Team Stan’s NoTubes p/b enduranceWERX
- Popsicles in the freezer chest.
- People who care. “It’s so nice to have a host family that is interested in your journey.”—CJ Dudley, Team CLIF Bar Cycling
- Fully stocked fridge. “Sometimes a Host will ask you what you want and later that day it magically appears in the fridge!”—CJ Dudley
- A dog.
- Access to neighborhood Food and Coffee-Based Amenities.
- Duct Tape. “You can use it for anything and anybody. In Tulsa I used it to repair a torn sidewall.”—Mark Shimahara, Team CLIF Bar Cycling
- Washing Machine and Dryer. “So we can rotate costumes.”—Mark Shimahara
- Bike stand and tools.
- Hot tub.
- Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
- Cable TV, DVD player, movie selection.
- Cool children.
- Jet Ski. “For rest days.”—JD Bergmann, Team CLIF Bar Cycling
- Ice machine.
- Access to a cooler.
- Bike storage.
- Ranch house and/or other similar single-story separated-style housing.
- Foosball table.
- A quality library.
- Private areas. “This one time we stayed at this place it was like the most amazing place ever. I have photos. The family was like the best interior decorators in the world and Morgan and I had our own little cottage in the back of their house, and we never had to even go into the main house. We never had to see the family. We had our own HOUSE all to ourselves that was decorated like a dollhouse! And there was a pool, and that’s awesome because it was really hot.”—Becca Schepps
- Private bathrooms.
- Toliet paper
- Rice cooker.
- “A family that will cook for you, but won’t make you eat with them.”—Becca Schepps
- Clean sheets & soft towels.
- The exact number of beds as advertised. “No lying about the number of actual/real beds.” – BS Team CLIF //// It can be an air mattress, but I want sheets and a pillow. You can’t do a stage race in a sleeping bag, unless you’re me in 2008, but that was ugly.”—Phil Gaimon
- “No more than two (maaaaybe 3) to a room. I think a lot of race promoters just ask a family how much space they have (or pressure them to hold more than they should), and they see it as a challenge to Tetris as many air mattresses in a room as they can. It’s okay for a night or two, but if it’s a long trip, we need to not feel like we’re sitting on a Southwest flight for a solid week. The best situation has been when one family agrees to host, and then asks their neighbors if they can each house a couple more. That way, we have one house that’s a base for cooking, massage, and mechanics, but we get to spread out on the block.”—Phil Gaimon
- “At Gila with Kenda, we stayed in a church gym, with cots lined up along the walls, ten dudes in one big, echoey room. Jim Stemper’s was right below the basketball hoop, and we played horse a lot, which usually knocked over his coffee mug. We went back the next year. Some guys bought hotel rooms down the street out of pocket. I loved that gym.”—Phil Gaimon
- “Trust. I’ve heard of hosts who don’t let the riders into their house if they’re not home, so guys are sitting on the porch calling them. “Yeah, the race is over.” We’re not going to steal anything. Maybe I’ll grab a cookie if you leave them on the counter, but that’s entrapment.”—Phil Gaimon
- “Dungeon-like bathrooms: during my collegiate days, we stayed with Menso in San Luis Obispo (Not teammates at the time) and his shower was literally worse than I imagine prison. Concrete walls and floor, gnarly smell, and a bar of soap on the ground. Someone along the way decided that they’d paint the thing for “ambiance” but apparently latex paint doesn’t hold up in a shower so there were like 5 coats of peeling paint and no light anywhere. Definitely not the most lush way to end a day of racing.”—CJ Dudley
- Sleepwalkers & Sleeptalkers
- Farts and Farting.
- Sub-optimal stairs – narrow, slippery, steep, busted, etc.
- Attic bedrooms, especially in hot climates.
- Murder vibes.
- Basement bedrooms, especially in cold climates.
- Unwanted sexual advances. “This one time I stayed with this family where the wife was obviously super unhappy and would have all her friends over all the time to drink margaritas and get wasted. Then they’d hit on the guys—I was staying with a Men’s team. It was weird. And they’d complain how their husbands were out of town all the time. That was weird cause the chicks were hot, but awkward cause then the husband would come home and you’d be like… ugh, you’re gonna get divorced.”— Becca Schepps
- Non-consensual religious activities.”This one time a friend of mine stayed with this family in Arizona that did like crazy meditative stuff and spirit finding, and the lady taught classes for like talking to the dead people. And they made her lay down and be a test subject for one of their classes, and they told her they could feel her dead dad, and that she was going to do very well in the race tomorrow. They made lots of weird noises while they held their hands over her body to feel the spirits and giver her energy for the race the next day. She was super freaked out. She also didn’t race very well. So they were wrong.”—Becca Schepps
- Pet hair & other irritants. “I don’t need to eat off the floor and clutter is fine, but I don’t want to be covered in cat hair. I’ve had a couple stage races ruined by allergies, probably from sleeping on air mattresses in dusty rooms.”—Phil Gaimon
- “Guilt. If you want to cook every meal for us, you’re a saint, but it’s by no means expected. I’ve had hosts constantly apologizing for not doing enough, and I think a lot of people hesitate to take on a team because they think it’ll be costly, but it shouldn’t cost you a dime, and you really don’t have to burn a calorie. Riders should leave the house cleaner than they found it. I always made a point of doing everyone’s dishes, and emptying out the dishwasher. PRO TIP: When you empty the dishwasher, put a few things away in the wrong place. That way, they’re know it was you that did it, and not the lazy 13-year-old daughter.”—Phil Gaimon
- Noise. “Don’t host if you have a crying baby, crazy barking dogs, or a 16-year-old learning the drums.”—Phil Gaimon