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Veronica Ewers: I’m living very much as a nomad in Europe

The Idaho rider on turning her life upside down to go pro, reflecting on the Tour de France Femmes, and quieting her inner negative voice.

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The last 12 months have been something of a whirlwind for Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) after she quit her job and moved to Europe to begin a full-time career as a professional cyclist.

It has been a major adjustment for Ewers, who had been working in an admin roll at a children’s hospital in Seattle before she turned pro. Her two jobs could hardly be any different, from sitting at a desk in Seattle to rubbing shoulders on the regular with 120 cyclists all over the world.

Getting used to the different job requirements is not the only major adjustment for Ewers, she’s had to get accustomed to a very different way of living in a place she’d never been to before. Ewers has been staying with a host family in Belgian since she moved to Europe earlier this year.

“It’s been an interesting transition. I’m living very much as a nomad. I don’t have a home base over here quite yet,” Ewers told VeloNews in a recent interview. “That’s been really interesting, because I used to be very, very structured. Basically, the same thing every day.

“So, it’s been really interesting going on the other side of the spectrum and being very homeless in some ways and it’s just kind of not feeling totally settled somewhere. There are positives and negatives to both. So, it’s been really fun. And it’ll be good once I do find that home base over here. I do have moments of missing family back in Seattle, but it will be really amazing seeing my family and coming over to travel with me a bit after the season is over.”

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Ewers has been finding her feet in Europe and a recent visit to Girona ahead of the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta to see a friend from Seattle that she also went to college with has given her a little bit of home. It also coincided with the visit of another friend from Seattle

Girona is a popular place to live for many of the non-European pros and it has developed into quite a sizeable ex-pat community. After spending some time there, Ewers can see the attraction of it.

“It’s really tempting me and one of my teammates, Magdeleine [Vallieres Mill] is very much trying to convince me to move here. She’s texted me about like a list [reasons to move to Girona],” Ewers said.

“It’s amazing what seeing familiar faces in odd places feels like. Another friend of mine from Seattle got here today, and so the three of us are in Girona together. Which is just so funny, because, you know, it’s hard sometimes to coordinate seeing all these people when I’m moving around so much, and then it happens to fall on this day that she was also in Europe and came to visit.”

Reflecting on the Tour de France

Ewers has only recently returned to racing ahead of the world championships with last week’s Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta her first major race since the end of the Tour de France Femmes. Except for the 1.1 Konvert Kortrijk Koerse, Ewers enjoyed a five-week break from racing following the Tour.

The French race was the highlight of her summer with a top-10 finish in the overall classification. It was for all intents and purposes any other big stage race, but the huge crowds and worldwide attention made sure it was something special.

“I’ve done stage races before or so I don’t think it was necessarily physically, significantly more draining than any other big stage race, but I think just the emotion and the media attention, and all of that was much more significant,” she said. “I think that was something that I had to really sort of come down from some ways. Just the magnitude of what had just occurred.”

The buzz was not just felt at the race, Ewers received messages from her family members back in her hometown of Moscow, Idaho, where locals — many of whom knew almost nothing about cycling — were throwing their support behind her. She believes that her town showed what the race could do for women’s cycling.

“Just thinking about how involved people in my hometown got, it’s really overwhelming, because people know what the Tour de France is, but that’s it,” Ewers said. “Most people didn’t know that there was no women’s Tour de France. They just assumed that it was a thing.

“My hometown is, I think, an example of what the Tour de France Femmes did for the US. The response was really huge and I think it’ll make people more interested in cycling, in general from the States, but I also think it will inspire women in the States to take a chance on cycling and see what it can do for them. Even if it’s not competitive, you can still get involved in riding a bike and exploring the world on two wheels.”

Battling the inner negative voice

Despite Ewers’ success this season, which has included a stage win at the Festival Elsy Jacobs and a victory at the Navarra Elite Classics, she still sometimes doubts herself. She talks of having two conflicting voices in her head, one that is rightly proud of what she’s done and the other that finds negative reasons why she was able to succeed and why it won’t happen again.

“I have sort of two voices in my head one that’s like, yeah, that’s super awesome and I’m so stoked that I managed to get to that, especially after being I think 12 or 11, going into the last stage,” she said of her ninth-place GC finish at the Tour. “Going through my mind and the last climb and saying, ‘okay, I have to make the top 10 I have to get into it’ and ‘I’m not going to win this stage, I might get dropped from this group, and be the last one across the line, but I have to fight all the way through and get that top 10’ and then being really happy that I’d gotten that.

“The other side is sort of two parts in one. [One says] ‘that’s not good enough, you have to do better.’ And then also a little bit still of that imposter syndrome in some ways and trying to invalidate the achievement. I like making excuses for why I was there and so it’s a lot of that internal battle.

“I think that is sort of motivating, in some ways for you to always continue to improve, but I do need to learn to sort of shut that voice out sometimes and be happy with the achievements that I do have.”

Learning to quiet down the negative voice in her head has been easier for Ewers as she finds more success, but it’s still difficult. Talking her anxieties out with her close friends and family has been a huge help.

“I’m still working on that,” she said. “I have my moments. Talking with close friends and the people in my orbit, who I’m really trusting and close with, and talking it through and voicing what that irrational, negative voice is saying. They shut it down for me sometimes, or they help me talk through it. They help me strengthen the more positive and happy voice.”