Going to college is scary enough as it is for a freshman. An entirely new place. Far too many roommates forced upon you because your university doesn’t understand that admitting 4,000 freshman when there is only housing for 2,000 of them will likely create a problem. Dealing with the fact that your roommate was raised by a family of wolves in the pacific northwest.
But the insanity of living in a forced quad in a 10×10 room is nothing compared to staying in America’s Best Value Inn with a group of people who are one Rorschach test away from being institutionalized. Over the years, traveling from shitty hotel to shitty hotel, one learns a lot about how to survive at a hotel that has blood-stained mattresses stored out back.
Ladies and gentlemen, part three: Surviving the hotel
So, if you aren’t able to stay at someone’s house (and by that I mean the home of someone distantly related to a teammate who is also despised by said teammate), you’ll be at a hotel. And despite what you may have learned about hotels by traveling with your parents to Disney World when you were eight, they all don’t have Mickey Mouse wallpaper. But, when you’ve just finished a three-hour road race, you really don’t care that the sheets have an unrecognizable green stain on them – you’re just happy that Will Dugan’s balls are out of your ass (if you’re confused by that…watch booyah).
Ideally, the team leadership tries to book hotels far enough ahead of time that there will e be enough rooms. But no matter what happens, expect to probably pay about $40 a weekend for the privilege of sharing a bed with someone you may have just met eight hours ago in the Whit parking lot. Get used to it. Your comfort zone is going to be tested for the rest of the semester.
So, with that in mind, you will know about how much the hotel is going to cost before you get there. And I think I may have mentioned it in part one, but here it is again: BRING CASH WITH YOU FOR THE HOTEL. Even though I’ve certainly been guilty of having to run to find an ATM as soon as we got to the hotel, try to avoid it. Because it’s midnight, it’s cold, and you’re probably in Pennsylvania, and everyone just wants to get to bed. Seriously. For the most part, a race weekend will just go a lot more smoothly if you withdraw your entire checking account before you leave. Not only will you be able to pay for the hotel when required, you can probably pick up some sweet crack at a rest stop in Jersey.
Assuming that everyone has paid up, then it’s the rush to get bikes off the roof, bags out of the van, and your asses in bed before the inevitable wake up.
One key to survival in the hotel is to leave your expectations of comfort and cleanliness back in Durham. Because the only time the hotel room is going to look remotely civilized is the first 30 seconds after you open the door. After that, it is going to be full of bikes, dirty chamois and empty tuna pouches. The shower is probably going to be disgusting because people will wash their bikes in it. The room is going to stink of dirty taints and Clif bar farts.
Note – check the bed for bedbugs. Especially if you’re at a Super 8 in Philly.
You can try to keep the room neatish: It’s always a good bet to keep your shit together in the same general area of the room so you aren’t running around like a meth-fueled chicken at 5 a.m. Saturday morning looking for your helmet and shoes.
Despite the mess, there’s heat in the hotel room. And a TV.
And a bed that you’ll be sharing with a total stranger. Get used to it, though. For the most part the sharing of a bed is the least annoying part of the weekend. Unless your bedmate decides to wake you up by jumping on you, naked, as soon as the alarm goes off.
Speaking of the alarm.
Oh…Saturday morning sucks. If you’re lucky, there will be a meeting Friday night to discuss leave time Saturday morning and the necessary wake-up time. Then you’ll have some knowledge of the impending discomfort of getting out of bed at 5 a.m. on Saturday.
If you’re unlucky, someone will make a decision about a leave time and wake-up time, not tell you, and come knocking on the door to your room at some ungodly hour, ripping you from a peaceful slumber and causing your frantic mind to forget that you are at a bike race and that, instead, there is someone outside of your door trying to get in so they can steal your kidneys and sell them on the black market.
But once your mind comes down from that panicked high, you should probably open the door and tell whoever is there that you hate them. They will probably laugh and just say “Shut up and be downstairs in 20 minutes.”
SO DO THAT. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. One point that I believe I hammered at earlier was the need to not stand around, and to get moving. At the hotel that is especially important. Get downstairs fast and get in the van, because the Ds are probably racing in 15 minutes. They need their Spuler warmup in the van (which will be explained later).
Also, reference part 2 about how to take advantage of the food provided by the hotel.
For the next 12 hours you are at the race, which is beyond the scope of this entry. Have fun.
Then you come back to the hotel. One of the most annoying things about the hotel is having to share a shower with three other people. It’s annoying for guys – I can’t imagine what it would be like for girls. BUT. HERE’S WHAT YOU DO. The person who finished highest that day goes first. Then the person who finished second highest. And so on.
If you’re a D who got dropped…don’t even bother trying to shower.
Kidding. Always shower. Not beating off, though. Sicko.
Then it’s time to relax. Maybe you’ve already eaten, and the effects of a day on the bike is starting to hit you. That’s when the fun begins.
If you’re lucky, the hotel gets the Spike channel. If that’s the case, there is probably a Van Damme or Segal movie on. If not…be prepared to channel surf for the rest of the evening. Or you could go the other route and be social – hanging out in other rooms, trying to hit on the one single girl on the team. But, if you decide to spend your evening hitting on the one single girl, you had better bring your A game, because everyone else is likely trying that as well.
Or you could spend the entire fucking night on your cell phone. A note of courtesy on this – if you plan on doing that, go in the damn hallway. Or the lobby. The three other people that you’re sharing the room with (and any other people that have come by to watch Kurt Sloane fight in the ancient way) would rather hear the dialogue of Van Damme than have to shout over you talking to your girlfriend until your battery explodes.
These are all fun things you can do in the hotel if you are in…say…Jersey. If you’re at the Philly weekend, go out and see a city that actually has people, as opposed to Manchester. But try to not get stabbed or too lost. It may be overwhelming to see more than 100 people in one place at once, but don’t spend your evening running around the city in a panic screaming that you feel crushed.
Or you can find a Wal-Mart to steal from. Or an arcade with Galaga.
I DON’T KNOW. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE TRULY ENDLESS!
Sunday morning is much like Saturday morning. Except you’re way more tired. And the room smells much, much more like ass. And your shit is everywhere. It is also possible that actual human feces are everywhere as well, but hopefully no one came down with uncontrollable explosive diarrhea overnight. Or maybe someone just got bored in the middle of the night and decided to get creative.
So anyway. Again with the wakeup from the coach, only this time you come to the door armed with a lead pipe to beat him/her over the head with for destroying the few hours of peace you have had all weekend.
As opposed to Saturday morning, when you go down to the van now, you have to gather all of the shit that you scattered over the room during the previous night. And if you leave something behind – and it is worth less than $300, suck it up and try to get it sent back to you from the hotel. No one wants to go back because you left behind your gas station sunglasses.
And as you pull away from the hotel Sunday morning under the slowly brightening sky of dawn, get used to that image. Because you’ll be seeing it every Sunday morning for the next two months.