Phuket Gazette’s Barry Daniels sat down the Thanyapura’s Head of the Cycling Academy and former Tour de France rider, Nick Gates to chat about the future of the academy and cycling Phuket.
At the end of 2014 Thanyapura Phuket launched their Cycling Phuket Academy headed up by former Olympian and Tour de France star Nick Gates. At the time Thanyapura Chief Executive Officer Philipp Graf von Hardenberg said appointing a Director of the Cycling Academy meant it would be able to deliver the highest possible quality for cyclists of all levels.
“The Cycling Phuket Academy is an extremely impressive addition to our host of international-standard sports facilities and programs,” he said.
“Given the increasing popularity of cycling, we realized the need to cater to that demand by providing elite coaches and facilities for cyclists, as well as a pristine environment at the foothills of a national park, which features numerous scenic and challenging training opportunities.”
Nick hails from Sydney and has over 15 years of experience in pro- mountain bike, adventure, track and road racing. He twice competed in the Tour de France for the Lotto-Domo team and has won the Commonwealth Bank Classic and the Australian national road race title.
I caught up with him over a healthy lunch of avocado salad and health-booster drinks at Thanyapura’s appropriately-named DiVine Restaurant, where indeed all the food is both divine in taste and nutrition.
I asked Nick how we mere bicycling mortals could become fitter, stronger, healthier cyclists and thereby increase our enjoyment of the sport.
Nick said: “If I had to use just one word to help you to be a better cyclist, it would be ‘consistency’. Regularity of your cycling is far more important than the total time, distance, or effort you invest. Your body loves exercising regularly, that’s how you break down muscle fibers on an ongoing basis and your body then replaces them with stronger more abundant muscle tissue. In this way you progressively become stronger, fitter, and healthier over time.
Also as you become stronger you will find you quite naturally want to increase the length and intensity of your rides to keep challenging yourself and developing greater fitness. It’s a natural virtuous progression”
Nick also said that rest and recuperation are very important, as this is when the real tissue repair and building is happening, so it’s very important to match your increasing riding schedule with enough time to recover between each outing….and don’t forget that quality sleep is of paramount importance.
I asked Nick about diet and he made the very good point that it is actually ongoing lifestyle, of which food is a component part, which needs to evolve to complement your increased cycling activities.
Personally he eats all sorts of foods, but makes sure it is all high quality, clean, fresh and organic where possible.
He said that a six hour 180 kilometer ride, as the regular cyclists at Thanyapura achieve on many Sundays, will burn some 5,000 calories.
Naturally one is very hungry after riding, but Nick said be sure that all the foods you choose are rich in vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients. High quality, low fat, proteins and carbohydrates are the order of the day with lots of fruit and veggies plus drawn-out rehydration with electrolyte drinks
“Just drinking water alone will flush not only toxins, but minerals from your tissues, so you need to replace the minerals you sweat out when riding in Phuket’s heat with an electrolyte drink such as Gatorade.” says Nick.
I asked Nick about cycling for those who have lapsed from regular exercising, or are getting on in years. He said, “Cycling is the ideal way to get back into regular exercise as it is non-stressing on the joints, muscles, tendons and other bodily parts and you can start gradually, then build your time and distance progressively.
Again for older riders it is an ideal type of exercise, as unlike running it is smooth and non-jarring on the body and very importantly it can be enjoyed as a social activity, which makes it more fun than a solo exercise such as swimming. Cycling in a group helps to motivate you and keeps you engaged over the long term, and of course you have the shared meals and a few beers to look forward to after you finish a ride.”
Nick said that many people who start as recreational cyclists start thinking about joining competitive challenges as they get fitter and stronger. Here, Thanyaprura is pioneering a number of events, of varying intensity and distances that everyday cyclists can join to challenge themselves.
In November this year they will stage a Cycle Cycling Phuket Classic event on November 14th with a 40 km all age groups ride; a 40 km mountain bike challenge and a more intense 90 km event….and if you’re really getting into your fitness training by then, you have the Laguna Triathlon the following weekend!
Nick Gates is certainly an inspirational figure and we are privileged to have him here in Phuket helping us become better cyclists.
As Nick said in conclusion, “I call cycling the best free investment on the planet making participants fitter, healthier and happier.”