It’s national bike month, and we are featuring athletes who inspire us to push beyond our comfort zone with their energy and perseverance.
Nikki Rohan resides in Hood River OR with her husband, Colin Meagher, her two kids, a dog, and a grumpy cat. Nikki has been mountain biking for close to 20 years, including a short stint competing in the pro women category in enduro races in the PNW, as well as events like the Trans BC, the Trans-Provence, the Downieville Classic, Grinduro, and the occasional CX race.
We wanted to know more about what motivates Nikki to keep getting on her bike after all these years.
How did you get in to biking?
NR: Growing up, I always had some type of bike around to ride. I had three older sisters and my dad taught us all at a really young age how to pedal without training wheels. I also remember riding to elementary school with friends and we spent endless summers exploring the small town I lived in. In my teenage years I was more into horses and motorcycles, but the pivotal point in my life where bikes came back into play was when I went off to college in Seattle without a car. I learned quickly that riding my bike on campus got me places more quickly than my feet. My second summer in college I had started dating a guy who was an avid mountain biker. From that point forward I was hooked.
When did you start racing?
NR: I actually didn’t race competitively until after I had kids. My first “enduro” mountain bike race was at Sea Otter Classic in 2014. I raced enduro competitively for about 5 years, and then after some life events I decided to re-focus racing on some other disciplines like cyclocross and gravel.
You have a lot of bikes! What kind of biking do you do, and what is your favorite?
NR: I do all types of biking but I spend most of my time on a full suspension mountain bike. I love riding singletrack trails and exploring new areas. Last year when covid shut down all our trails I started exploring gravel roads in our area on my “gravel” bike which is like a road bike with some adjustments to handle the off-road surfaces.
What is your favorite trail?
NR: My favorite trail of all time? Hmmmm, that’s a tough one. Probably Thunder Mountain outside of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah and Angels Staircase in eastern Washington. I could add ten more to this list if I had to.
What was the most difficult ride/race you have ever done and why? How did you overcome the challenge?
NR: The most difficult race I ever did was the TransProvence enduro style stage race in the Maritime Alps in France. 6 full days of racing with 5K+ feet of climbing each day, huge descents and endless switchbacks that got the best of me. After the first day of racing I honestly didn’t think I had it in me to finish the race. I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the thought of five more days, but I had trained hard and I decided to just find the pace that would allow me to finish. Each day got easier and by the time we got to the last stage of the final day, I had a flask of whiskey stashed in my pack to celebrate the finish line… we also ended the race by riding through the city of Menton and jumping into the Mediterranean Sea.
How do you get energized for a ride? How do you fuel your body before, during, and after to perform your best?
NR: I try to focus my training rides in the mornings when I have the most energy. While I do ride 2-3 days a week after work (I have a full time 8-5 job), those rides are usually shorter and require less planning. The night before a big ride I tend to plan a fairly balanced dinner: a serving of lean protein, lots of veggies, and a small serving of rice or bread. Morning meal: eggs, sweet potato, spinach and sometimes (shhh, all the time)… a slice of bacon, and then 2 SBC Power Up Pre-workout gummies right before I head out. During the ride I try to eat 100 calories an hour. I have eaten so many bars over the years that I honestly prefer a tortilla or the whitest bread I can find topped with banana slices or dates, and some type of nut butter. I also bring dried fruit, nuts, jerky, and always a big supply of energy gummies with and without caffeine, like the SGC Mocca Shots paired with the Power Up gummies.
How do you recover from a particularly strenuous ride?
NR: Within 30 minutes of finishing a big ride I will typically eat 2 of the SGC Recover gummies, followed by a shower and then a decent meal like a sandwich or big salad loaded with protein, with a Pfriem Pilsner on the side.
Mountain biking involves a lot of gear, what is the most helpful piece of equipment you have found in the past year?
NR: Without a doubt, put the time and energy into choosing a saddle that fits you right. Go to a local bike shop and measure your sit bones for sizing, and then start to ask your friends what they like or look for reviews on the Google-webs.
For someone just getting into mountain biking, any tips on where to start? What to buy, how to find the right gear, what trails to ride?
NR: Take a lesson! Its easy to pick up bad habits so the best advice I can give someone just starting out is to contact a bike coach to help you get started. They can direct you to the right gear, where to ride, and most importantly how not to get injured. Maybe this coach is someone you find on a local facebook mountain biking group, maybe they are your best friend, or maybe they are your soon to be girlfriend.