Going in to day four of our trip to Poland, the time is upon us to undertake one of most important tasks of an elite athlete in pursuit of a World Championship medal: laundry. Though the necessity of clean laundry on a trip like this one is largely negotiable for the majority of our teammates– (primarily our male teammates, as we will learn the hard way as the days tick away) for Ellen and I, it is not. We get made fun of enough without also being dubbed the smelly kids, so we at least make an effort to show up in clean clothes during our time abroad.
Learning to do laundry in a hotel room without actual laundry facilities has been a slow learning process which began with our trip to Europe last summer. Last year we spent a month in Europe, training full time and racing in the summer heat which necessitated a lot of laundry. Our first attempts at washing and drying in German/Swiss hotel rooms were not very successful and it seemed like we couldn’t keep up with the volume of dirty clothes coming back to the hotel room, while anxiously waiting for the “clean” clothes to dry. It took days. Though we haven’t learned to speed up the process of evaporation, we have learned a few tricks during our trip to Beijing and then the following trip to Lucerne this year how to get by with just the basics while traveling and producing big piles of sweaty, smelly clothes.

#1: Dry your dirty clothes. This makes the laundry queue much more bearable while you inevitably wait to cycle things through the sink or bathtub. Piling sweaty trou on the floor or under the bed doesn’t do anyone any favors.

#2: Create more hanging space. Probably the biggest challenge in getting through the laundry queue is having enough space to hang clean (and dirty) things. A big improvement from our first attempts at laundry has been bringing additional clothes line with us to create hanging space in the room instead of relying only on shower doors/door handles/towel racks for space. Clothesline is light and inexpensive and can probably triple the amount of space for laundry in the room.

#3: Things dry faster if you wring and roll. I wring things out as thoroughly as possible before rolling them tightly in a spare hotel towel. With unis and sports bras, this makes all the difference in the world and probably halves the dry time.

#4: Do it early, do it often. We have found that waiting until everything is dirty and then trying to do it all at once is not a good attack strategy. Though we still have heaps of clean things to wear, we have already started what is going to be a long and continuous process for the rest of the trip. Doing only a handful of things every day or every other day is much more manageable than trying to wash 10 unis, 12 sports bras, 8 tech shirts and 20 pairs of socks all at once. Not to mention there isn’t space in most hotel rooms for that approach.

Just as a personal preference: I prefer using individual/travel Tide packets to the All Small and Mighty. It seems to wash out of the clothes more cleanly and with less residue being sans a real wash and spin cycle.

Well, there’s the quick and dirty (clean?) guide to laundry on the road. Laundry isn’t a priority for every elite athlete, but it does keep our room and our person more tolerable, and that is never a bad thing. As a [very small] bonus it also makes packing to go home a little less gross.

Wind kept us off the water this morning, which may have been the impetus for this particular post (and the laundry duty, for that matter). Now after having had a second breakfast, laundry, a hot pink pedicure and a blog post I find myself with nothing to do but wait for lunch and my next practice… hmm. Maybe there are some lightweight men in the lobby. :)

Quote of the day: “Hey Dutchman… that’s my bike.”
Tom to Mikhail when the latter attempted to ride off with it this morning

Also, it’s Coach Volpenhein’s birthday today. Make sure to wish him a happy 40th.

New Arrivals today: CAN, AUS, RSA, KOR, ITA

Long Live the Dream,