As international cyclists made their stay in Wauwatosa for the East Tosa Gran Prix, the final leg of the Tour of America's Dairyland, some found lodging in residents' homes.
Home lodging has been available to cyclists ever since the inception of the tour. Resident lodging is part of cycling culture, said Sarah Drilias, host-housing coordinator. This year, more than 100 cyclists took advantage of home housing during the series in more than 40 Wisconsin households.
"They were incredibly pleasant people, upbeat and kind. It was neat to sit around and listen to them talk every night and hear their stories. Kind of like a play-by-play," said Jenny Kois, a Tosa resident who housed two professional females from the Colavita team and their seigneur, an assistant responsible for feeding and massaging the riders.
"You learn the inside story of riding and what it's like to be a rider," Kois said.
From using washers and dryers to clean their racing uniforms, to cooking up a bounty of fruits and vegetables in the kitchen, cyclists made themselves at home between races — but never overstepped their boundaries.
"They are so keenly aware of the fact that you're providing for them and they are so good about respecting your space and the people in your life. That's what makes it so easy to host," said Kois.
Most cyclists would stay with hosts between 11 and 14 days. Others lived with Tosa residents for just a couple days preceding the East Tosa Gran Prix.
Ed Haydin, Tosa resident and co-founder of the East Tosa Alliance, housed three women, two of whom were professional riders from the Pain Pathways team in North Carolina. His family has opened its home for about five years to cyclists.
"A lot of these cyclists are racing for very low salaries. But (home hosting) also gives them insight into your area," said Haydin.
The experience also creates an added investment in watching the race.
"It's really neat to have people there that you were more personally associated with. You're a little more invested in their races. There's somebody you're cheering for," said Kois.
Find Out More
Interested in being a host next year or have more questions? Visit TourofAmericasDairyland.com.
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