Laurens Ten Dam has had a long career as a pro racer — in two decades, he’s raced the Tour de France 10 times, and has taken part in virtually every major road race in the world. The Dutch racer is 37 years old, and despite his full-time racing career, he finds time to host the Live Slow, Ride Fast podcast and gravel grinder. Laurens also works as the editor of Bicycling Netherlands, all while raising two young kids at home. Although he's got a lot on his plate he still loves to ride his bike. How does he do it? He credits a lot of his longevity in cycling to his attitudes around the love of the ride, the importance of recovery, and a diet that’s healthy — but also fun.
Formerly a rider for LottoNL-Jumbo and Sunweb, he recently announced his new team for the 2019 road season, CCC, but adds that a major determining factor in the switch was the ability to continue riding Giant bikes. He just got back from Taiwan where he took part in a hill climb challenge, finishing seventh, but he’s more psyched to be heading into a (sort of) relaxing off-season. Between podcast interviews and article edits, he took some time to chat about bikes and his long career — once he herds his two exuberant children out of the room so he can have some peace and quiet.
“I still say that I’m a pro cyclist, but with a busy second job and third job. I’m an editor, I have a podcast, I have the gravel ride, a coffee company, t-shirts… It’s hard to balance it, and find time to train, but I have the experience — and a very supportive wife!” he laughs. “Time management gets really important. I do my main meetings when I have an off-day from riding. Races are the best, I have time to myself and people taking care of my food and laundry and everything so I actually have more time to work! The years I had the best results, I totally committed, but it’s nice to be able to step outside of the pro racing bubble now,” he adds. "And I can enjoy the small things in life, like having a great barbecue and enjoying time with friends and family."
That’s something he’s had to learn over time. After a bad crash a few years ago, Ten Dam needed to recover and moved his family to California for some time to relax and train for a comeback — there, he rediscovered his love of cycling, and he also met fellow SP2-sponsored rider, Eamon Lucas. “Three years later, I’m still racing and still love racing,” he adds.
The Live Slow, Ride Fast concept came to him in those US years as well. “After rides, you just want to have fun, go to the beach, relax,” he says. “And that’s what really worked for me. Enjoying the simple things in life."
He also loves to work — living slow doesn’t mean lying on the couch watching TV, “It means enjoying the simple things in life.” The daily grind and crazy schedule mean that recovery is even more important for Ten Dam. Prioritizing rest and recovery as well as a healthy diet is key for a racer balancing full-time career and family.
“I try to eat a lot of veggies and fresh bread and real foods,” he says.
So where does SP2 come in? As a whole food — fresh, frozen spirulina cubes — it aligns perfectly with Ten Dam’s fresh food preference, and it all comes back to his buddy in California. “Last year, Eamon Lucas phoned me and said he wanted to make one more attempt at becoming a pro in Europe and I said I’d help him out, make some calls for him,” Ten Dam explains. "He came to visit and he kept making all of these green smoothies, and I was curious about what it was, and I started asking a bunch of questions about SP2. He started telling me about spirulina and how it works, and I’m so into food that of course, I wanted to try it.”
He started to make his own smoothies and noticed that his recovery times were steadily improving, along with other benefits on the bike. “I’m convinced it’s good for me: I try to make a smoothie every day,” he says. “I started to use it after the Giro this year in June, and coming out of that race, I felt a little sick. I started using SP2 every day for a month, and I had a late call to go to the Tour de France. I felt really good after those first couple weeks of using SP2, feeling super strong going into the Tour. In the Tour, we get blood tests before the race to see if we’re healthy, and it was my best test that I had in a few years! I felt good, and I had proof that it was good.”
Bonus: “My kids also love it!” he says. “They got used to the color, and now they love it."
Make Ten Dam’s “milkshake” by blending frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, a splash of milk and a cube of SP2. (It fools his kids into thinking it’s dessert!)
But Ten Dam’s real secret to longevity in cycling? “I just love riding my bike,” he says. That’s really what keeps him racing, writing, podcasting, promoting and living for the ride.