Over the years, I’ve both stayed at a lot of host houses and been a host of athletes myself. And over those years, I compiled a bit of a mental dos/don’t list for both sides, admittedly mostly on the side of ‘what an athlete being housed should do.’ But I remember the first time I hosted a couple athletes in my own apartment, I fell SO far short of what was acceptable. (Shout-out to Raphael Gagne and JP, you guys put up with a lot, from sleeping on—no joke—cardboard to soften the floor to my oil heater breaking down so we didn’t have hot water. Sorry, guys.)
(I’m going to write a second article on being a good athlete staying in host housing too, so look out for that if you’re on the other side of the equation!)
If you’re hosting athletes, I’ve started to build a list of things that you can do—almost all free/super cheap, easy things—to make everything run smoother. Of course, the onus isn’t on the host to be anything in particular. You’re providing a place to sleep and that’s plenty. But if you want to make an athlete comfortable, a few ideas:
Be clear on what you have to offer
This is a bit of a weird one, but if you’re offering to host athletes, make sure they know what you’re offering: floor space in a den, private guest room, an air mattress in the office… It sounds a little excessive, but it’s really helpful for planning. If you’re a young host without much extra stuff, warn athletes to BYO towels/blankets/pillows—no one minds needing to bring stuff but it’s the worst when you show up and have to air dry because no one told you to bring a towel. (As someone who’s been on both sides, it sucks when you show up expecting a bed but get a spot on the floor, especially if you didn’t think to bring your good sleeping pad or air mattress. And I’ve been the host who forgot to mention that and became quickly aware that I hadn’t exactly warned someone that a small couch was all they were getting.)
Post WiFi info
It’s a minor thing but it beats having to constantly answer the question of ‘what’s the wifi password?’
Stockpile extra blankets
Some athletes run cold, some run hot. And if they’re sleeping on air mattresses, rather than regular mattresses, chances are they’re going to be chilly. (And if you’re using air mattresses, have the pump on hand so they can refill as needed.)
Off intel on what snacks are up for grabs / food plans
If you stocked the kitchen with seltzer and snacks for the athletes, let them know. If they should feel free to brew a pot of coffee in the morning, tell them! If you’re planning on making everyone dinner at 6PM, make that clear. If you didn’t make any food plans for them, that’s 110% OK too — in fact, most hosted athletes would probably prefer to do their own thing for food since many are super particular with their diets… Speaking of that,
Clear some kitchen space
Whether you clear a shelf in the fridge/pantry or just provide a spot where athletes can stick their food bags and coolers, that’s fine—just know that most will show up with a ton of food! (It’s way easier on you to have a plan beforehand versus frantically cleaning out the fridge when your kitchen is full of cyclists.)
RELATED: Packing your food box for travel
Dark colored towels/linens when possible
Another weird one, but after living with a lot of cyclists over the years—my husband included—I’ve learned one thing: They are constantly bleeding, greasy, or just grimy. Dark towels and linens mean no awkward grease spots that won’t come out.
Equip bathrooms with 4 key tools
Let’s get a little gross for a second—this is probably the most important thing that you can do.
- Plunger: Not to get gross, but athletes can cause a serious backup to your plumbing. Head it off by providing a plunger so they don’t have to awkwardly ask for one.
- Working lock: Growing up, I had a bathroom that didn’t have a doorknob on it. (Our house was always a work in progress.) I remember the day my dad finally put a doorknob on it, when I hit my preteen years and wanted to have friends over and he realized that the ability to close/lock a door was going to be a thing we needed. It was a very exciting day for me. I’ve weirdly stayed in a lot of houses at this point that don’t have working doorknobs or, if they do, doors that don’t lock. If you’re an athlete staying with strangers, it’s unpleasant to sit trying to pee while holding the door closed with one hand lest your host unsuspectingly walks in.
- Poopouri: This stuff is freaking genius. Rather than obnoxious and obvious air freshener, this gets spritzed in the toilet BEFORE you go, and creates a barrier to ‘trap’ smell. So smart. A small bottle lasts forever, and helps everyone avoid embarrassment.
- Extra toilet paper: The last thing you need is a clogged toilet because someone was too embarrassed to ask for more TP and used paper towels instead. (We actually have a subscription on Amazon for TP so we always have it in stock.)
Super host bonus points
If you’re aiming for celeb status in the world of athlete host housing (not really a thing, but I weirdly love to go overboard when hosting people), a few extras:
- Toiletries basket: keep a small basket in your bathroom with things like a spare toothbrush / toothpaste / Pepto Bismol / ibuprofen / floss /tampons — basics that people might forget
- Similarly, if you have a guest bathroom, make sure there’s soap + shampoo in the shower
- The one food thing that most athletes would love is a tea/coffee station with everything they need to make coffee or tea in the AM without disturbing anyone by opening every cabinet to find mugs
- Create a bike wash area: This is mainly for MTB and CX people, but it’s a HUGE help and amazing bonus to come back from a race and know that the hose is in the backyard with a bucket and brush next to it. (It also avoids your garage getting super dirty because a cyclist doesn’t know what to do with his bike.)
- Check on food restrictions: You DO NOT have to cook for athletes staying with you, but if you do, go one step further and check on food restrictions. It sucks to make a lasagna for a team only to find out that three of them are gluten-free and one is vegan. It’s not your problem, but if you’re going to the trouble of making a meal, why not make sure its one that everyone can eat? (Hint: Build your own burrito/salad bowl is usually an easy win!)
Let me know in the comments if you have any amazing horror stories (as the host or the athlete) or any other tips to share!