David Nicholas: Grit, Guts and Determination
David Nicholas is one of the most successful Paralympic athletes in cycling worldwide. Despite being born with Cerebral Palsy, this Australian doesn’t allow his condition stop him from producing outstanding performances on the bike. His palmarès is already quite impressive, including Paralympic and multiple World championship time-trial titles.
Last year, the David met the BMC Racing Team sport director Allan Peiper. So impressed with his story, Peiper took it upon himself to provide David with a brand new BMC timemachine TM01 for his upcoming season; he has since added a teammachine SLR01 to his BMC collection too. We thought is about time to find out more about this inspiring sportsman and his goals for 2015, as well as his passion for Swiss, premium, performance bikes.
David, you are one of the most successful Para-cyclist in cycling worldwide. Can you describe how it feels to represent Australia on the world stage?
When I started cycling and competing for Australia I was hoping to be good enough to make the 2016 Paralympics in RIO that was my goal at the start. So I was very happy to make it to that level ahead of schedule. It was a big thrill competing in London, the whole event was amazing, and the crowds were a lot bigger than I’ve ever seen before. To come away with a Gold medal in the TT and a Bronze in the Road Race was fantastic.To come away with a Gold medal in the TT and a Bronze in the Road Race was fantastic
Most people probably don’t know that much about cerebral Palsy. Can you tell us a bit more about your disability and race category?
I was born with Cerebral Palsy which affects my gross and fine motor skills, as well as my speech. I am lucky enough to have good enough balance to ride a normal bicycle. For athletes who ride normal bikes there are 5 categories, C1 - C5, with C1 being the most disabled and C5 being the least disabled. I am in the C3 category. Not all the athletes in my category have cerebral palsy, some are amputees or have other disabilities. Sometimes in races the peloton will contain more than 1 category so categories are distinguished by the color of the helmet.
How did you get into the sport of cycling and when did you start dreaming of taking part in the Paralympic Games?
I was competing in Athletics as a teenager and dreamt of competing at a Paralympic Games for athletics. I suffered a knee injury when I was 16 years old which required surgery. My Dad was cycling at club level at the time so I started riding to rehabilitate my knee. Once I started cycling I found that I really enjoyed it more than athletics and I started racing with Dad at the club level. I found that with bike racing I can compete on a more level playing field with able bodied cyclists which is something I couldn’t do in athletics. I had my first Australian Team selection when I was 18yrs old (2010) and I suppose that was when the dream of going to the Paralympics became a goal.
What was more unexpected for you, the Paralympic gold medal in London 2012 or the award as best Queensland cyclist of the year for both able and disabled cyclists?
Well, I went into the 2012 Paralympics as the current World Champion in the Road Time Trial and 3km Pursuit. So I felt a lot of pressure to do well. It wasn’t totally unexpected that I could get on the podium, but anything can happen on the day, I won the Time Trial by only 9 seconds so it was very close. Winning the Cyclist of the Year Award this year was very unexpected, I didn’t think my results had been good enoughWinning the Cyclist of the Year Award this year was very unexpected, I didn’t think my results had been good enough. It is a really big thrill to have my name on the same trophy as some of my heroes like Anna Meares and Robbie McEwen.
I heard you are working full-time. How do you still manage to get all your training done?
That’s a good question (laughing). I do work full time as an Information Technology Support Officer. My employer allows me a bit of flexibility with my work hours. I finish work at 16:00, and I do most of my weekday training rides between 4 and 7pm. My employer allows me to have time off when I go overseas for competitions so I am lucky.
Do you have an idol at which you are looking up to?
Yes of course, there are many pro riders that I like watching on TV. Cadel Evans, Phillip Gilbert, and Tony Martin are athletes I like a lot, there are so many great riders. I look up to riders who never give in and always put in 100 percent effort.
How many kilometers do you cycle per year?
I train about 300km per week, so about 15000km per year I guess.
I’ve never really added it up before. My road races are usually no more than 70km and 20km for my time trials (the max. distance depends on disability category). So compared to able bodied athletes, my races are short so I don’t have to do the volume of training that they do.
Can you tell us how the connection between you and Allan Peiper of the BMC Racing Team came about?
Well I never thought I would meet someone like Allan Peiper in my small country town. But as it turned out Allan has family who live here and they put me in contact with Allan. We emailed a few times and then when Allan came to visit his family we met for a coffee. He’s a really nice guy and it’s a really big deal for me to have met him. It still blows me away that someone like him, working every day with amazing cyclists would be interested in what I do.
After riding the bike for the first time I know I made the right choiceWhich were the reasons for you to buy a BMC SLR01 Road bike?
I did a lot of research on the internet before making a decision. After riding the bike for the first time I know I made the right choice The bike is super responsive, when you push on the pedals, it just goes! And you really notice how light it is on the hills. It’s the best bike I’ve ridden by far.
Do you prefer time trails or road racing?
I have had a lot of success in Time Trials winning the World Paracycling Championship twice but I would say I like road racing slightly more. Time Trials are all pain and it’s just you against the clock but in road racing there is strategy and other factors involved which makes them even more exciting and challenging.
Your palmarès is already quite impressive, is there a race you are still dreaming of winning?
Yes, I really want to win a big road race. I really want to win a big road raceI came 2nd in the road race at the World Championships in 2011, and 3rd in the road race at the Paralympics, and 4th this year at the World Championships. So I really want to prove I can do it in the road race now too.
What do you like to do in your free time?
What’s free time? (laughing). I work, I train, I sleep, repeat (laughing). I don’t go out much, I do some relaxing at home, watch movies and cycling on TV and generally wasting time on the internet.
Thanks, David for your time and good luck for your goals in 2015
Gold Medal Road TT at London 2012 Paralympics.
Bronze Medal R/Race at London 2012 Paralympics.
4th Place 3km Pursuit at London 2012 Paralympics.
Gold Medal at World TT Champs 2013 (Canada)
Gold Medal at World Track Champs 2012 3km Pursuit (USA)
Silver Medal at World Track Champs 2012 1km TT (USA)
Gold Medal at World TT Champs 2011 (Denmark)
Silver Medal at World R/Race Champs 2011 (Denmark)