Introducing Nick Smith
Posted by auscxmag
Posted in News
Nicholas Smith is the youngest member of the Australian team competing at the 2014 cyclocross World championships in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands in February. Australian Cyclocross Magazine took a trip to Nick’s home town of Bundanoon, NSW to have a chat with him at a local fundraising day to help him along his way before he flew out for Europe on the 17 January.
auscxmag: When did you start riding competitively, how did you start and what kind of riding was it?
Nick: A mate invited me to get out for a ride with him on the trails around the back of Bundanoon, from then we made a weekly date of it and kept going from there.
auscxmag: Why did you ride a CX bike when they weren’t ‘trendy’ then?
Nick: I started riding a cross bike in 2011 when I wanted to do a bit of training on the road. The road around here (Bundanoon) are a bit sketchy with lots of harsh bumpy roads with pot holes, so talking with my mum she suggested getting a cross bike as it seemed a bit more versatile and I may not puncture or break wheel as much as I would on a road bike. The cross bike was initially bought just for some training on the road, but then I started doing some mountain bike races on it.
auscxmag: I remember seeing you on a cyclocross bike at the Willo back in 2012, but when did you first ride a cross bike?
Nick: My first event on a cross bike was the Highland fling in 2011 when I did the half Fling (60km) on a cross bike, which was pretty tough, and a few other MTB races on my cross bike, but yeah when you saw me at the Willo at the top of the KOM hill I was changing a flat tyre which wasn’t ideal.
All smiles on the local trails
auscxmag: Where and when was your first proper cyclocross race?
Nick: At a Manly Warringah club race in 2013. (Sean: I think I remember – your mum signed you on and she seemed pretty nervous?) yeah, My mum drove me up and I raced both grades and from there I was pretty hooked I guess
auscxmag: Do you have a coach? Or is it a good support group and encouraging parents?
Nick: I think it is mostly down to an excellent local support group. Just recently I have been doing a bit of work with Danny Hennessy in Woollongong who has been really enthusiastic and willing to share his knowledge on cyclocross. My mum has just been so amazing though she puts in so much effort for me which is really good. We have done a fair bit as she drives me around everywhere, even Melbourne, so she is pretty good.
auscxmag: You had a very good 2013 in regards of CX, and seemed to gain confidence as you increased your experience, what do you think were your stand out performances?
Nick: I was pretty stoked with fourth place in the U19 category at the national championships in Melbourne. It was good because from the start I was off the back from the line and I managed to get back to the front to come fourth and that meant a lot to me because it was my first nationals race and it was a pretty tough and muddy course. Good fun anyway!
auscxmag: So the big news is that you have been selected to represent Australia at the Cyclocross World Champs in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands in February in the u/19 category. Do you have a specific goal for the race, or are you there to soak it in and experience cyclocross on the world stage?
Nick: I am definitely there to get the most out of it experience wise and make the most of the opportunity. I have a few goals for a the race, but I am not sure of the standard I will be up against, but if I can finish on the lead lap would be pretty good and I guess what I am aiming for, but we will just have to wait and see how I go.
auscxmag: Has your training changed with your focus on CX and what is it that you now do?
Nick: I guess, I am trying to do more road riding, and getting ready for worlds I have been doing more intervals on my trainer. But just trying to ride heaps, that’s my training. A normal training week is 2 easy days and about 10 hours of good riding.
auscxmag: So who are you travelling with? The rest of the Australian team, your parents or Mr. Chaperone Danny Hennessy?
Nick: I do have a Mr. Chaperone but it is Roland Suys which is really good. He is from Belgium and helped Lewis Rattray at the last two CX world champs. So I get to travel with him and stay with his family.
auscxmag: Are you taking any extra bikes or wheels? Do you have race support?
Nick: I am taking my bike, and Roland is helping as he is taking his bike over also which he is letting me use as a pit bike for the race.
auscxmag: Have you received your Australian skinsuit yet? Have you worn a skinsuit before?
Nick: Not yet. And I haven’t worn one before. (auscxmag: I spoke to Bothy who has received his and he said it is really thin) Nick: Oh no! looks like I am going to be cold.
auscxmag: How long are you in Europe for and are you doing any other races while you are there?
Nick: I leave on Jan 17 coming back 4 Feb. Roland has organised a couple of lead up races for me, some club races and I think the UCI has some lead up races that I will try to get into so I can get used to the snow and mud because there isn’t any of that around here…
auscxmag: Are you seeing and tourist sites on your trip?
Nick: I’m not sure, but mum said Amsterdam is definitely out of the question.
auscxmag: Are you worried about the cold or do you think growing up in the sometimes frosty southern highlands will be a benefit?
Nick: It will probably help growing up here as it can get pretty cool, but I think I will still be nervous about what it is going to be like when I get there. It will be Ok, we bought thermal gear and warm clothes (auscxmag: but you can’t wear that under your skinsuit) Laughs all round..
auscxmag: Are you nervous, excited or both?
Nick: Probably both, but more excited than nervous.
auscxmag: We would like to wish you the very best of luck for the world champs. We will be cheering you on! Looking forward to catching up with you when you return.
Nick: Awesome, thanks a lot.