Meet up-and-coming Aussie cyclist Alex Nicholls
The Suzuki Bontrager cycling team member discusses her amazing year.
Tell us about your training schedule – how many days a week do you train?
I train six days a week. My typical week involves riding 50 kilometres per day, on average. Training includes morning bunch rides, racing criteriums and local road races, training sessions with my ACTAS [ACT Academy of Sport] coach Glenn Doney, and longer rides with my Suzuki Bontrager teammates.
What’s been the biggest challenge in your cycling career so far?
Definitely gaining selection on the Australian team. That was very important as it enabled me to race in the Junior World Championships. Selection was based on four races, and during two of those, I was suffering from tonsillitis. I quickly learnt that there’s a lot more to being a cyclist than just training and hopping on the bike to race. It’s as much about dealing with and overcoming unexpected adversity as it is when everything’s going right.
You won silver at the Junior World Championships this year, in the individual time trial. What did that mean to you?
My silver medal meant everything and is a very treasured possession. It was quite a surreal moment when I found out that I had medalled – it’s one I will never forget. When racing at the World Championships, the hard work of training and preparation does not give you a rite of passage. I was lucky that everything lined up perfectly on the day and I finished the race with absolutely no regrets.
What did you learn from racing overseas?
Racing in Europe was amazing. I couldn’t believe the amount of racing that was available or the size of the pelotons. The racing is very aggressive. It’s a whole new experience when most of the girls in the peloton are speaking a different language and the road signage is also in another language. The big lesson when racing overseas was to be very aware and organised due to the language barrier.
Canberra can get pretty cold, but it’s a breeding ground for world-class athletes. What’s the best and worst thing about living and training there for you?
Canberra is the cycling capital of Australia and has a fantastic cycling community. There is always someone who will give you a hand if you puncture or need someone to ride with. The cycling culture within Canberra is very inclusive and caters for all abilities, from social to highly competitive riding. I have been very lucky to have had tremendous support from Canberra Cycling Club and ACT Cycling, who have been big supporters of junior cycling. The worst thing about cycling in Canberra is the cold winter mornings when the temperature is below zero. There have been several rides where it’s been snowing and we’ve stopped and had snowball fights!
What do you Suzuki Bontrager girls talk about when you’re out on the road?
Oh, that’s a hard one. Sometimes you’re too busy to talk and other times it can be very social, depending on the type of ride. Often there is a lot of laughter and banter, particularly with the team, and we discuss where we’ll go for coffee after the ride.
Weapon of choice – what bike are you riding at the moment?
I’ve been riding a Trek ever since I joined the Suzuki Bontrager Team. It’s an awesome bike to ride. My power output has been improving, which I put down to the quality of the frame and amazing fit.
What’s your favourite carbo-loading pre-race meal?
Creamed rice – very boring but really yummy!
What’s your ultimate ambition in cycling?
To enjoy it and to be the best I can be. I want to train and race hard to find out how far I can go without putting limits on myself. I have learnt there are many variables over which you have no control, like sickness and injury, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I just want to enjoy the journey. I love nothing more than to race; it’s my passion.
For more on Alex and the Suzuki Bontrager team, visit suzukibrumbys.com