Living like a pro

IMG_5191All these pictures of cyclists training in sunny places during the winter season. Pictures everywhere, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It must make you crazy if you are sitting behind your office desk, with the rain slashing against the windows and the wind howling around the office building.

I am one of those cyclists. I am spending seven weeks in Girona, Spain this winter. I also am guilty of spamming those pictures. I admit it. I like to share my beautiful life. But more often I get negative reactions. Things like yes, yeah, sure. We work and you just ride your bike out there. Or: it is not fair that you can go out and ride in the sun whenever you feel like it, and I can’t. With your luxurious lifestyle…..

I do understand these reactions in itself. If you like riding your bike you are not happy when the weather is always bad. Then you are jealous of the sunny pictures of hilly landscapes.

I would love to wake these guys up – it’s always guys reacting like this, women usually have more sympathic comments – and tell them that if they want this, just do it!! When you really want to, you can also spend the winter riding in beautiful locations. No shit. I’ll tell you how.

But first. The luxurious lifestyle I presumably have is a big misunderstanding. Of course there are cyclists earning bucket loads of money. Those are the men. Only some women do get rich in cycling, or can even get by in a normal, decent way. The large majority of the women’s peloton earns very little. If I say very little, I really mean very little.

I call myself a procyclist but financially I am not. I only live as a pro. I would like to tell you how much I earn a month to give you an idea. But out of respect for my sponsors I won’t do that. But I’ll tell you this: there are no more than three digits on my monthly paycheck. It pays for the fuel to drive to races and it pays for my trainer, and maybe even an occasional massage. But that’s it.

That means that I have to work. This column is not a nice extra, like I sometimes get told, no it’s a necessity. Because I don’t want to make concessions to my life as a pro, I do have limited time to work. That is not a bad thing. It just means I haven’t got expensive stuff. That I don’t buy new clothes often and that I don’t live in a mansion.

I cherish my sponsors, for example Autoservice Van Bruchem from Zwolle. If they didn’t let me drive a beautiful Suzuki Swift, I would be in trouble.

With my university education, background as a journalist and the relatively unique experience as a pro athlete, I could easily get a job that pays so much more. But I don’t want to. Because cycling is my passion and my life as a cyclist is fantastic.

I made it happen that I can do the work I do alongside the cycling at any time or place I want. Long live the internet. If it weren’t for the internet I could not have spent weeks in Spain. And long live the cheaper way of living in Spain, because yes, I have to organize and pay for my stay in sunny places myself.

You are such a lucky bastard, I often hear. Yes I do feel a lucky bastard. Because I am blessed with a body capable of doing cycling at a high level. Furthermore I worked hard to be able to live like I do, and I still work hard for it.

I challenge every man who reacts negatively to take your life in your own hands. Create the life you want to live. It takes times, it’s not always easy and it’s hard work. Sometimes it’s hard to get by, it’s putting up with less at times. But it’s possible. Because if I can, you can too.

What is important in the end? Lots of money in your bank account? Expensive stuff around you or driving a big car and then complain about bike riders who ride in the sun? Or waking up every day, happily remembering that you are the main character in your own children’s book and then go out and ride in the sun? I mean. I don’t dream about my life. I live my dream.

Published in cycling.be, February 2015

» Kamil said (9 Apr, 2015) :

This is a great blog post.
Ps. The complainers should try xc ski training -21c, in a snowstorm, fast lol.
Then riding in the rain would be a charming day.

Ride forever Marijn!
In any weather.
Omgggg I’m a guy…


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