" I love riding my bike, I'd be out here almost as much whether or not I was
--Nicole Freedman, pro racer and member of womens pro RONA team.
I don't often start out an interview with a quote from an earlier interview,
but this goes to the heart of the matter with Nicole and it is 'sympatico' with
how many of us feel about cycling.
Nicole started cycling in 1993 at Stanford University. A former runner, she
had early success winning the National Collegiate TTT in 1994. By 1999 she was a
fixture on the podium, winning six of the most hotly contested races on the
Womens National calendar including Wendys International Cycling Classic,
Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, Another Dam Race, among others.
In 2000 she followed up with five podium finishes in major races and polished
off the year with selection to the Sydney Olympic team and winning the USA
National Road championship.
2001 followed with five wins and Nicole capped it with the USA National
Criterium championship at Downer's Grove. In the Giro del Toscana (UCI 2.9.1)
Campi Biscenzio stage she finished second.
This year Nicole started her season with six podium places and two victories
including a May campaign with the Italian team G.S. Liguria Sports. In her own
words, "I returned to racing in May to compete in Europe in the Tour of Czech
Republic, May 1-5, and the Tour of Midi Pyrenees, May 7-12. I competed for an
Italian team, G.S. Liguria Sports. Team Liguria Sports consists of four American
riders, zero Italian riders, 1 staff member."
A finely honed sense of humour as well as a dynamic sprint make Nicole's
diaries entertaining and informative. So let's hear what Miss Freedman has to
say as she ramps up to defend her National Criterium Championship shortly, at
Downer's Grove on August 18th.
DP: Nicole you have had a great career: US Olympics Team, US Road &
Criterium champion, and numerous victories in road races and Criteriums. Is
there any one race or event that is a favourite of yours? A favorite victory?
Nicole: It's really a toss up. That second in the 5th grade jump rope
contest was phenomenally exciting, but then again, winning the Olympic Trials
was okay. I probably would have to go with the Olympic Trials, though. I had
never focused on and trained with such determination for a race. Winning the
trials fulfilled a life long goal, but also gave me the confidence to know that
when I truly dedicate myself to a goal I can succeed.
DP: You had a great race in the Philly Liberty Classic, coming in
tenth without support. Like to tell us how the race went, riding without support
against some of the best womens riders in the world?
Nicole: Actually I thought this year's Liberty race was the easiest in
years. No longer a World Cup race, the Classic did not attract nearly as many
under-fed European racers who typically zip up the wall faster than the rest of
us could descend the wall. As usual, Saturn was dominant and predictable.
I did not really feel like I was such a disadvantage racing solo, except in
terms of getting a ride from the airport to host housing and getting to the
DP: Is there one race where victory seems to elude you, that you have
targeted to win in the future?
Nicole: Pretty much any race that climbs over a speed bump. Long term
though, I do have two goals: I want to win a US National Calendar Stage race -
it doesn't have to be of the HP Classic or Redlands caliber, but somewhat hard.
I am sure if I look carefully, I can find a stage race that conflicts with
another race in which every other US women is competing. Also, I would like to
win stages or one day races in Europe.
DP: Are we going to see RONA do a campaign in Europe this year or
Nicole: Are you reading my mind? I can't speak for RONA as our plan is
extremely top secret. But I can say the team is transitioning into European
jello wrestling. The first event is Genevieve versus Lyne Bessette. You may not
have noticed, but our "Little G" has been bulking up in preparation for the big
event. As for myself, I would like to do certain races in Italy. I really like
DP: You are riding the HP Classic? You have done this race before,
it's a tough one with some tough climbs. Are you looking forward to it? The
Boise Capitol Criterium should be right up your alley.
Nicole: Hopefully by this time you realize I was not at HP. I was busy
at home getting a professional manicure and could not make it. Fortunately, RONA
management was very understanding about the conflict.
DP: Nicole, I really enjoy your website and your diaries from the
races. You have one great sense of humor - who did you get that from? I just
want you to know when things are tough I know I can go there and just get
cheered up. Thanks! I think your site reminds me that life and riding should be
fun. By the way, I really liked those racy photos of Britney Spears on your
Nicole: That wasn't Britney Spears, that was me. I get so annoyed when
Britney tries to mimic my style. By the way, I got my sense of humor from years
of laughing at myself. My friends were pretty helpful in laughing at me as well.
DP: RONA is one hell of a team, whoops sorry, one heck of a team. You
look like you may be the best educated team in the Pro Peloton, men or women. I
mean, look at these academic palmares:
Karen Brokel, Germany...working on her Master's Degree in Physics at University
Andrea Hannos, degree in Biology from two universities: Midwestern
in Texas and University of British Columbia.
Melissa Holt (Meshy), a degree in
Physical Education from Otago University, New Zealand.
Amy Jarvis, Mathematics
degree University of Waterloo.
Manon Jutras (Canada), degree in Microbiology and
Gail Longenecker, degree in Mathematics and a massage therapist.
Genevieve Jeanson, "le infant terrible" of the the team, is currently studying
at Andre Laurendeau college in Montreal.
And Nicole, you have a degree in Urban Planning from Stanford. Some
team...fast, good looking and educated, I'm impressed of course.
Nicole: Hmmm, we were just talking about that the other night. All the
degrees in the world and we still couldn't figure out how to split the dinner
bill and get the tip right.
DP: Nicole, with the degree in Urban Planning, when you travel do you
look at the cities you are in and think of ways they could have been planned
Nicole: More shopping malls, more strip malls...of all the places I
have seen, suburban Chicago really has done the best job in plowing down all
that ugly open space and nature in favor of more strip malls. Kudos to suburban
DP: About a year ago Indurain suggested that areas be set aside for
cycling parks so young riders could have roads to train and ride. Does this
sound like a viable part of a "Urban Planning?"
Nicole: I did work as a bike planner at Stanford University for a
number of years. I definitely think about going back into open space
planning/bike planning when I retire. I was such a wonderful employee. Everyone
else would sign out to lunch with a note that they would be back in half an hour
or one hour. I would sign out and come back three months later after cycling all
around the country.
DP: Are there any changes you would make to the Womens Pro circuit
that you think would make it more popular? Some comments I've heard is that the
womens races should be longer and prizes larger.What are your thoughts on this?
Nicole: I think they should abolish the prizes. Can't we just wear a
ribbon around our necks?
DP: I always expected more support for womens racing from popular
womens products...fashion magazines, Revlon, etc. Shoes, sure why not shoes? All
the women I know seem to collect shoes...you know Nicole, that vast machine that
merchandises products for women only. I wonder what they are waiting for?
Nicole: A few have actually tried it. Since I have never worked for a
women's products company...actually since I have never really had a job, I
probably shouldn't speak for them.
DP: Is there a male or female rider who is a favorite or inspiration
to you? A current favorite you follow?
Nicole: Kermit the Frog and Dede Demet. Kermit, (in the Muppet Movie)
with his scrawny legs, gave us all hope that genetics alone do not make a great
cyclist. Dede because she is a brilliant racer who races with more heart and
guts than anyone I have ever seen.
Sad to say, when I started riding in '94 I didn't know any cyclists. I
remember waiting in a long line with a friend of mine at a bike store to get
some guy to sign a cycling poster. I threw the poster out minutes later when I
got home. It turns out the guy was Lance Armstrong signing posters after winning
DP: Any advice to young riders starting out or that have the goal of
making it to the top ranks of Pro Cycling as you have?
Nicole: Enjoy all sports and activities when you are young, and finish
school absolutely. Women peak so late anyway, you might as well enjoy all the
fun of college (I mean study very, very hard) and ramp up the cycling later as
your body begins to peak.
Also, if possible, check out collegiate cycling. For many of us, collegiates
were some of the most fun years ever. It is also a great place to develop your
talent, meet other cyclists who are the same age and enjoy being part of a team.
Plus, some schools cover all the racing expenses which means you are basically
sponsored like a pro.
DP: I see you have a personal sponsor, E-Lyte, which is a drink with
electrolytes. How important is it for a rider to replace his electrolytes and
fluids during intense racing?
Nicole: Depends if you like to race with leg cramps or not.
Guaranteed, replacing electrolytes is the most important thing you can do in
conjunction with drinking water to maximize your power and endurance during
races. E-Lyte has really helped me immeasurably. I received some free samples
from them and noticed a huge difference. I now sit on the couch all day pouring
E-Lyte over my ice cream instead of training.
I like E-Lytes in particular because it has the most pure form of
electrolytes, has no chemicals or coloring, etc., and it has made a noticeable
difference in my performance.
DP: You have a personal coach - Gale Bernhardt of Ultrafit. I am
assuming there was a time you worked without a coach. Has working with Gale
helped you prepare for races and achieve your goals? Could you tell us a little
about Gale and Ultrafit and how you work with her? Is it done by e-mail as you
travel during the season? When would you suggest someone get a coach?
Nicole: Gale is my dream coach. She is knowledgeable, supportive and
truly cares about all her athletes. I still don't know how she does it, but
before some of my largest races, she tracks me down at host families across the
country to chat, give me confidence and wish me good luck. She has been
intrumental in my success and achieving my goals. We talk a lot by phone and
When to sign-up with a coach is not an easy question, so I will give one of
those default wishy-washy answers that help nobody - when you feel like extra
knowledge, structure or motivation from a professional could add more to your
I would definitely recommend Gale and Ultrafit Associates. They screen and
train their prospective coaches superbly; the entire group communicates often
and stays abreast of new training methods; their newsletter is extremely
DP: The National Criterium Championships...just about here. I know
you're prepared and in form coming off of a stage win in The International (Tour
of Toona). Any predictions or comments on your competition or the course?
Nicole: THIRD CORNER, GREAT FRIED CHICKEN STAND.
Thank you, Nicole! Good luck in your bid for a second National Criterium
Championship. See you at the races, hope we can do this again in the future.
For more info on Nicole, her sponsors and womens racing:
Palmares of Elite Women: