Myriam Nicole Interview
I was lucky enough to sit down with French downhill rider and world cup title winner, Myriam Nicole, at the latest round of the World Cup in Fort William, Scotland.
Myriam came back from a number of seasons dogged by injury to take the overall elite women’s title in 2017 and put an excellent start into her 2018 campaign with a win at Losinj, Croatia. For me and countless other women she has been an inspiration and I wanted to find out more.
I caught up with Myriam on the Saturday after qualification. In the end Fort William wouldn’t offer up another first place but she would take him the second spot on the day despite a crash during her race run.
Cranky Betty: First of all, I would like congratulate you for the last years Downhill World Cup overall win. How did that feel?
Myriam Nicole: Thank you, It felt amazing. The goal was on me to finish the season after many years of injuries, I did that in the end and it was a relief. It has been tough, at points it was very tight, it was great to fight it out with the girls though.
CB: So you already won World and European Cup rounds this year. It seems to me you are on the same path? What do you think?
MN: Well, we will see! You never know what is going to happen but I feel stronger than ever and I have a good feeling about this. I am more comfortable on some tracks than others, like steep and technical ones , like Val di sole.
CB: Who do you think is your competitor this year?
MN: I would say Rachel is my biggest competitor this year. She is very strong and she is coming back from injury. I know this feeling, you are hungry for the win. She proved today that she is really strong.
CB: How is the bike feeling this week? Is there any specific changes you have made for Fort William?
MN: Yeah, we always adjust the bike for the track. We made the bike longer, we set up also the tires and the suspension harder.
CB: I remember you dabbled with 29ers last year? What is your current choice?
MN: I am not going to back to 29ers. It’s good on some tracks but it seems that it depends on the height and the power you have, so some girls might find it hard!
CB: Do you and other women have any input on how Commencal bikes are designed and built?
MN: Yeah, sure! We get the first prototype and we work with the engineers, doing extensive testing. We are really pushing to have the best bike! It is very important to me as I represent the lighter weight riders, typically women.
CB: Have you completed your physio training? Do people keep asking about your aches and pains?
MN: Yes, I passed the test last Wednesday and I am officially now a physio! I get lots of questions about pains and aches [queue Cranky Betty talking about her injury.]
CB: Was the physio qualification inspired by mountain biking or was it the plan all along?
MN: My dad is a doctor, so I was always interested in the structure of the body. I really wanted to plan my future. Mountain biking wasn’t as big as it is now when I started so I really wanted to have a second choice in life. It helps in training and it helps with everything so I don’t regret my choice. It was a really interesting course.
CB: It has been a while since your last injury but you can probably admit you had a fair share of these. Do these weigh on your mind?
MN: Yeah, I am scared when I ride! The most important thing is to take your time after injury, do not rush after the injury, step by step.
CB: Some time has passed since your first win in Val di Sole in 2011. Do you still feel the same about racing?
MN: For sure! I am much more experienced now and the sport is getting bigger. There are more mechanics and engineers. Everything is getting bigger, I am very pleased about that and all of that brings the results.
CB: Is Downhill more accessible to women now?
MN: I was so impressed at the BDS here recently. There were so many women. At the UCI DH events I think that the women are as important as the men on the circuit.
CB: How is it to be in a relationship and race full time? Are the two of you competitive?
MN: We travel together, Gaetan Ruffin and me, so it’s not as difficult as I don’t have to go away and leave my boyfriend at home, but when we are racing, we are doing our own race.
It is nice to travel together. Sometimes we are competitive, he helps me when I try to catch him and helps me to learn to keep up.
CB: Finally, I have to ask, why is your nickname Popon?
MN: Haha, you don’t know? When I was younger, I used to ride a horse named Pompon and everyone started calling me that. It started when I was five and it followed me until today.
It was great to catch up with Myriam and we wish her luck for the rest of the season.
If there is anyone else you think we should be interviewing this summer then let us know and we will do our best to get in touch with them.
June 6, 2018