Gerald Ciolek talks about being a professional cyclist
„I have to answer certain questions again and again.“
Gerald Ciolek is a 23-year-old ProTour cyclist for Team Milram out of Germany. He has ridden pro since 2005. "My hobby is my profession," he says. While cycling fans understand his career choice, Ciolek often finds himself answering basic questions when talking to the general public.
"Having a conversation with someone who does not follow my sport regularly, I have to answer certain questions again and again,” says Ciolek, who was born in Cologne. For example:
Question number one: "Are you riding in the Tour de France?"
"This question is almost always the first one I get." To Ciolek it seems difficult to answer with the right words. He does not like to appear arrogant.
Questions 2a to 2c are dedicated to his physical loads during races and training sessions.
"How heavy are the physical loads during races like the Tour de France? How much and how often do you train? And do you still enjoy cycling?" Ciolek explains that the training is gruelling but it's part of being a pro. “A normal training session takes five hours. And there are six training sessions a week. Many cyclists train in the morning but I start a little later." He says professional cyclists must be independent and disciplined because they must often train by themselves. "In our sport personal discipline is very important."
Question number three: "Can you make a living cycling?"
"There are enough sponsors available in cycling, and a professional cyclist can live well on the income. The pay is not comparable to professional German soccer players, but compared to other sports it can be quite profitable.”
"How many bikes do you have?"
The Milram professionals have five bikes each: two bikes for training, one for races and another as a replacement. The fifth bike is a TT bike.
Question number five: "Are all cyclists are using drugs?"
"This question arises again and again. In Germany this is a regular topic within the media." Does this irritate him? "The question is understandable," he says. "I’m interested in what people think about this topic. And I try to make my position clear." Ciolek says cycling is to blame for some of the doping scandals, but the sport is becoming cleaner all the time. "There were many doping cases that became public. Because of that, doping controls have increased and cycling has become a leader among pro sports."