Heading across the Pond – Phase III

April 11, 2008

Stressed out!

For the past 1.5 months, I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I do not know when the team will pay me, nor by what method I'll get paid. It doesn't matter how hard I try and figure this dilemma out, I never seem to have any answers. I've been uncertain with my communication on all ends. It took me days to finally call home and to use the Internet. It's especially difficult when I'm in other countries racing because I can't call home. The team had to help me get an Italian cell phone, so the director can reach me.

The problem is I don't understand how it operates since it's all in Italian. Finally, when I'm at the races, everything is in Italian. Race communication is awful. I can't think in Italian when I'm tired! Then, we don't eat when we travel. On top of being confused, I am starving. Not a pretty picture. It only took me a few days to know that I have to pack food to eat when I travel. The basic living activities seem so difficult right now. I'm like a baby in a foreign home. I don't understand the method of living!

How do I clean my bike? There's no degreaser anywhere and I've spent a week searching for it. They don't use brushes to clean the bike so I spent two days searching for brushes to scrub the bike. Crap, the chain is dry after racing in the rain, and I've done an entire ride, listening to a squeaky chain. I have no lube. I better put that on the list for when I see the director next.

How do I clean my clothes? The day I arrived, Sigrid quickly showed me where to put the detergent but what about bleach? The washing machine has all these compartments, and I don't know where to put what. What stuff do you use to clean the house? All their cleaners are different from the stuff I use at home. Where do I find bike food? The team doesn't provide you with mix nor training food, so I should have brought some from home. Eeek, Jack: you need to send me a care package!

How do I communicate with my director and family if I have no Internet, and I'm traveling? What's the cheapest method to call home? How do I use my computer with DSL – there's no wireless here? How do I get around, there's no car nor commuter bike? It's just my race bike and me. Argghhhh, so many questions. In a week a lot of them have been answered, but they're constantly brewing and there's always more. Things that take minutes at home are taking me days here.

Thank God for Nathalie. She arrived the day after I did, and I've been hounding her non-stop. She is an Aussie who has been racing in Europe for six years now. She has the system down pat. She stayed at the team house (my home until September) for a week, and then she's off to be with her beau and his family in Germany. She said communication and food are the most important things to figure out here, and I'm quickly learning that.

First, she got my computer to work with DSL – yeahh! Then, she helped me get a USA number thru Skye, so hubs can call me. She also taught me how to call forward, so now family can call me when I'm at the Team House. Freedom! She also speaks Italian better than I do, so she's been a bit of a translator for me since I've arrived. Also, the way European teams function is different from the US way of life, so she's helped me realize things I need to do. Nathalie, you've been a lifesaver, and now I'm sure you need a break from me. I won't bother you too much in Germany, I promise. I guess everyone goes through this learning curve in Europe and life gets easier with experience. I just need experience.

There have been meltdowns here. I feel like I'm living with an injury. When I broke my collarbone, it took me hours to eat, write, or do anything. It's the same with living in a foreign place. It gets overwhelming, and that's without any training on the bike! Few American women have come to foreign teams. I had a lot of questions about bank accounts and taxes while I was at home, and I didn't really have many people to turn to. That's when I realized how few women have chosen the road I'm embarking on.

I try and keep my perspective. I keep telling myself it's better than being alone here, and I finally get a chance to do the races I've dreamt of. I still get home sick, though. It's been hard for Jack because this is his first year directing a women's team in the States, and he's trying to figure out all the chaos as a director. Then, here I am calling home in a tizzy and sobbing. He has his own chaos and here I want to vent mine. Sorry hubs. I'll be better after I get a few days of rest. I promise. Actually, week two has already been better. It's just too bad that I got an ear infection on top of it all and am a bit 'sinusy'. When I get stressed, my body breaks down. Now, I have a calm week, and I'll rest. Then, I'll be happy again, and I can enjoy my first 2008 World Cup of the season here in Italy the day after Easter.

Back to Phase II: Off-season prep.

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