A Day in the Life of a Curated Cycling Expert
Ever wonder what your Curated Expert actually does outside of recommending you awesome gear? Check out this account of Cycling Expert Jared Fontaine's average day!
Life as a Curated Expert is amazing. As a digital nomad, I can live anywhere and go anywhere. Since I love the Tour de France and professional cycling racing, working for Curated as an expert gives me the ability to travel to Europe and watch the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, and other races in person, while sharing my passion for cycling with customers to help them get into cycling. The best part about following professional road racing is that you can ride the route before the races with the pros. So I fly my bike to Europe to watch the most famous bike races in the world.
Life as a Super Fan
Generally every May, I visit Italy to watch the Giro d’Italia, which is a famous three-week, professional grand-tour, road-biking race. Over 21 days, competitors race 80- to 150-mile “mini” races, or stages, per day. Italy’s version of the Tour de France, the Giro started in 1909 just a few years after the Tour de France was first held in 1903. In June and July, I typically visit France for the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Tour de France. A precursor to the Tour, the Dauphiné is named after the Dauphiné region in the French Alps and includes some of the famous mountaintop finishes of the Tour.
Mountains give cycling its flavor. Flat stages are generally boring and inconsequential to the overall winner of a multi-stage tour. The real racing doesn’t start until the riders hit 2000-plus meters of elevation and 15,000m of climbing in one day, where moves are made and stages can be won or lost. So I visit the Italian and French mountain ranges to watch the races, and Curated allows me to work online so I can live in Europe for the majority of the year. Since I hate snow and winter, I spend January through March in Mexico or somewhere warm. I am a digital nomad so I can travel any and everywhere. My goal is to bike up the most famous mountain ranges that are in the Tour de France and other races. My bucket list includes climbing the L'Alpe d'Huez, Col du Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux, Stelvio, and many others.
I generally wake up at 7 a.m. European time since Curated customers in California are still awake at that time. I check my messages to see if anyone sent questions about riding or types of bikes. This takes about an hour or so.
In July, I can usually be found somewhere close to the Tour’s route for the day. As I previously mentioned, the best part of the race is seeing the riders climb the final mountain of the day. The captains of the team often accelerate on the steep, 10-percent slopes of the mountain to crack their opponents. The overall and main race within the Tour de France is the General Classification (GC), which ranks racers’ cumulative times over the entire 21-day race. The rider with the lowest (a.k.a. fastest) time leads the race and wears the “maillot jaune”, or yellow jersey.
Normally, all of the contenders are separated by sometimes only 10 seconds or less in the General Classification. In cycling, the battle among the captain leaders takes place in the mountains and individual time trials. On flat stages, 70 to 80 percent of a racer’s effort comes from aerodynamics. Therefore, a team leader can sit behind his domestiques, or teammates. In the mountains, aerodynamics is less important so the captain has to ride mainly on his own merit, and this is the same with the individual time trials where drafting is not permitted.
Captains can gain minutes in the mountains as rivals become exhausted, and the cream of the crop rises to the top. This is why the mountain stages are so consequential and fun to watch. You can see the racers attacking while cheering them on. I always ride my bike to places on the mountain where I know moves will be made during the race.
Back at the ‘Office’
After I finish talking to my Curated customers, I eat a nice breakfast of oatmeal, a slow-burning carb, and go out to ride to the mountain and return the same day. I usually stay in hostels, which I enjoy because I can meet other travelers. I try to ride between 60 to 100 miles a day, or around 200 to 400 miles a week, during my peak season. The Tour de France usually starts around 10 a.m., giving me enough time to ride to the spot I want to watch.
Once I get in place, I pull out my phone or laptop, check my Curated inbox, and prepare messages to send customers. Since the time difference to the U.S. is between 6 to 10 hours, and it’s nighttime in the U.S. at this point, I have the day free to ride and take pictures. I am also working on creating a YouTube channel about my travels. Curated gives me the freedom to pick my schedule, so I normally schedule my shifts when I will be at my laptop. Most of my duties are replying to customers whenever they message me.
After my ride in the afternoon, I return to my Airbnb or hostel for a shower and a meal, because I am super tired after climbing around 2000m, or 6000-plus feet, on the road bike. I take a nice ice bath since my legs are burning and fatigued. I upload my fit file to Strava to see what my power was on the climb and how many calories I burned. After that, I check my messages and take an hour nap.
By the time I wake up, the Tour stage is usually finished, and I check up on the results. If it is the Queen Stage, or the hardest day of the Tour, I replay the entire stage online or by watching French Public Television. If it is a normal, less-critical stage, I watch a summary of what happened that day. Who crashed? Who lost time? Who won the stage?
Then I look at the race route for the next day and make my predictions of who will win or gain time in the GC, which is one of my favorite parts about watching any multi-stage tour. It is one of the most unpredictable sports in the world, which keeps cycling interesting if you follow it closely.
Every year, a top racer who could win the Tour will crash out, get sick, or quit because of exhaustion. You just don’t know who. In 2014, two Tour favorites, Chris Froome of Great Britain and Alberto Contador of Spain, crashed out of contention on Stage 5 and Stage 10, respectively, which completely destroyed my predictions. This opened up the race for riders that had no chance of winning, which isn’t unusual in cycling.
In addition to the unknowns, the race routes change every year. Some routes give certain riders advantages over others, such as a flat time-trial course (which caters to bigger, more powerful riders) or a mountainous route (which favors smaller, lighter riders).
After doing maintenance on my bike, I eat dinner – something with a lot of carbs because I will probably ride to see the Tour again or ride up another famous mountain the next day. I plan my next route and record and upload videos to YouTube. I start my two- to three-hour Curated shift at 11 p.m. European time because it’s afternoon in much of the U.S. The late shifts are killer because you can stay up to 3 a.m. talking to customers, but it is worth it.
Living the Dream
My plan is to spend the winters in either a Balkan country (such as Croatia, Montenegro, or Albania) or in South or Central America (Mexico, Columbia, or Brazil), since those countries have mild winters and lots of mountains to cycle up. I love riding up mountains, especially ones that are over 2000m of the “Hors catégorie”, meaning they are “beyond categorization” – the highest ranking a climb can be designated. I hate snow and wish to never see it again unless I am cycling up a mountain.
I truly feel I’m living the dream. The really fun part about working for Curated and watching professional cycling is riding my bike on the same course as the pros, helping customers find their dream bikes, and predicting who will win the next day. Feel free to connect with me or another Cycling Expert, and we can talk about how we can help you get a bike to ride on the beach, commute to work, or cycle up the high mountains of the Tour de France!