Caping-Off The Race Season In Style At The Caribbean Cycling Championships: 4-Questions With Nicole Mitchell
Racing the 2017 Caribbean Cycling Championships was a season-long goal for Nicole Mitchell.
Having represented her home country of Bermuda at the mid-summer Island Games in Gotland (an island off Sweden), and finishing third in the Road Race, Nicole had high hopes she could earn another podium spot against a very strong field of riders.
After sprinting to third-place and achieving her goal of finishing on the podium at Caribbean Cycling Championships, we caught up with Nicole to talk about the event as well as a season that included two podium performances in international competitions, plus winning her second consecutive Bermuda National Road Race title.
The smile says it all, this podium performance was a season in the making! Photo Credit: Nicole Mitchell
Primary Sport/Discipline: Road Cycling/Time-Trialing
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 10-14hrs.
Upcoming Goals: The 2018 Central American Games
Question #1: Congratulations on an excellent ride at the Caribbean Cycling Championships, Nicole! What was the most memorable part of your CCC experience?
Nicole Mitchell: Thank you! I am definitely pleased with how the road race turned out, it was a great event.
The part that stands out most for me is rounding the final corner and knowing that I would finish with a podium spot!
Getting third was very satisfying, but it also qualified me to represent Bermuda at the 2018 Central American Games, as well as the 2018 Caribbean Cycling Championships, which is very cool!
It’s been four-years since I participated in Central American Games, so I am excited to go back. That year I was the only cyclist from Bermuda that completed the race, it’s definitely a challenging event.
I should mention that earning a spot to Central American Games is quite a big deal for Bermuda, as our country is not guaranteed any spots to participate in CAG. I am proud to have earned a spot, not just for me, but for my country!
Coaches Perspective/Coach Brian: I am very proud of Nicole, it has been an incredible season for her, but this result is definitely a highlight.
Leading into the event I knew she had the experience, tactical sense, and fitness to finish on top, but the reality that she was a lone rider in a peloton of teams meant that it would be a difficult task to step onto the podium at the end of the day.
It was no surprise that Nicole got on the podium, but I did “freak out” a little when I learned of her result. I ran to Coach Joy and said, “she did it, she did it!”
I am so pleased with her success, she definitely earned it!
Nicole likes to race aggressively, but is quite a handy sprinter, finishing both the Caribbean Cycling Championships and Island Games on the podium from a field-sprint. Photo Credit: REL Sports Photography
Question #2: You earned an incredible bronze medal at the Caribbean Cycling Championships Road Race. How did the event play out for you?
NM: Heading into the race I was aware that the host country could field a team of five riders, while numerous other countries had teams of two or three riders. Bermuda had only one spot in the women’s field, just me.
This meant that I had to ride a very smart and tactically savvy race, conserving energy as much as possible. Although I normally like to be aggressive, when I am riding in a team environment, it was important to ride ‘shrewdly’ as Coach Brian would put it.
Although I was aware that I could not miss any dangerous break-aways, I had to take the chance that other teams would work to keep the race together and give their sprinters a chance to win.
The last few kilometers of the race I was very attentive and spent energy working my way into the best position possible as I didn’t want to miss any last-minute moves. I had come so far and wanted to make sure I was at the front of the race going to the finish.
The most important part of the race was sprinting early... into the final corner. This would put me in position for a podium spot.
When the time was right, I gave it everything I had, sprinting into the last corner -then out of it- which earned me a bronze medal.
I am extremely satisfied with this result and proud to stand on the podium with two very strong ladies!
Coach Brian: I am glad that Nicole shared some of her tactical experience, because it is important that she was both disciplined and aggressive at the right times. This is the essence of bike racing.
We had talked about the course, the wind, the climb, and the field, but the most important piece was the final corner. Taking the chance to sprint before the corner and go ‘all in’ gave Nicole the best opportunity for a result.
She left everything out on course and finished in style!
Time-trialing is another focus for Nicole as she hopes to earn a spot and represent Bermuda at the 2018 Common Wealth Games. Photo Credit: Phil Trusell
Question #3: What is next on your cycling ‘to do’ list and what goals lie ahead in 2018?
NM: The next thing on my ‘to do’ list is to take some time off! It’s been a long season…
With that said, I am looking forward to some downtime and getting out for numerous MTB rides and even doing a few runs.
Once training starts again, my focus will be building toward Central American Games in August 2018 as well as qualifying for the Common Wealth Games in April 2018.
The Common Wealth Games includes riders from U.K., New Zealand, Canada, to name a few. These riders represent their country at an Olympic level and are “full-time” Athletes, so I expect the selection process to be quite stringent.
(Note: Nicole holds-down a full-time job as Head of I.T. for a major re-insurance company and regularly competes against 'full-time' Athletes).
After a short break, I plan to get back into training with an eye toward Common Wealth Games!
Coach Brian: Nicole definitely needs some downtime, it is well deserved.
With Common Wealth Games being in April, we will have to ramp-up her training quickly to build endurance and speed as the selection process for CWG will take place well before the April event date.
I am confident that Nicole can be ready for Common Wealth Games in both the Time-Trial and Road Race.
Nicole take pride in representing Bermuda at many international events, earlier in the year she earned a bronze medal, while helping her teammate get 2nd at the Island Games Road Race. Photo Credit: Nicole Mitchell
Question #4: Describe your favorite workout in your training program, also, please share a ‘knowledge-bomb’ you have learned while training with Big Wheel Coaching.
NM: My favorite workout is my Saturday morning group ride!
I really look forward to riding hard, being aggressive, and beating up on boys!
This ride is harder than a lot of the women’s races I do, so we incorporate it into my weekly routine.
It’s not a structured workout per-se, but we always include this ride, treating it like a mock-race or strategy practice session.
For a knowledge-bomb, and as a female racer who consistently competes with men, I advise any rider not completely confident in their climbing ability to start each climb at the front of the peloton on every group ride.
This takes work and focus, but allows me to consistently ride within a very fast peloton without too much trouble.
Oh, and one more thing, here is a travel tip… microwaved potatoes make for an easy way to consume high-quality carbohydrates while in unfamiliar surroundings!
I say this because before most races that I travel to, I can be found roaming a local store looking to buy potatoes to microwave for breakfast, dinner, or a snack.
Coach Brian: Microwaved potatoes… great advice, thank you Nicole!
When traveling, it’s always important to find ‘comfort foods’, wherever you can, in order to be both well-fueled and low-stress. Nothing is worse than force-feeding yourself unfamiliar food before a big event.
Athletes heading to events of all types invest immense amounts of time, energy, and money into preparing for, and getting to, an event. Thus it can be catastrophic, and some might say a bit of self-sabotage, to do anything that could potentially cause stomach distress or other digestive issues.
And to Nicole’s point about group riding, Coach Joy and I always emphasize group riding with a purpose. It can turn an ordinary group ride into a purposeful training session that blends the physical and tactical elements of cycling in one workout!
Microwaving potatoes is travel tip that keeps Nicole Mitchell consuming quality carbohydrates while at remote race locations. Photo Credit: Nicole Mitchell
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Nicole Mitchell’s Caribbean Cycling Championship experience as much as we have enjoyed sharing it!
At Big Wheel Coaching, we created the hashtag, #TrainYourPotential for a reason, and Nicole just proved why.
Holding down a full-time job, balancing all the things that a busy life holds, she is able to produce incredible performances through purposeful and individualized training against a peloton of ‘full-time’ Athletes. No small accomplishment, if we do say so ourselves!
We are proud to see her achieving her best and hope that it can inspire you to set some big goals of your own!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching