Thanyapura is leading the way in the future of pro cycling in Thailand. The world-class sports, health, education and lifestyle centre recently welcomed former professional cyclist Nick Gates as the Director of the Cycling Thailand Academy. With Phuket’s tremendous potential as a cycling destination, Nick will be spearheading the expansion of Thanyapura’s cycling offerings. The two-time Tour de France rider has over 15 years of experience in cycling and previously won the Commonwealth Bank Classic and the Australian National Road Race title. We spoke to Nick about what makes Thanyapura and Phuket the ideal cycling Thailand training location for cyclists and triathletes.
Why did you move to Phuket?
I came and had a look at Thanyapura and thought the facilities were fantastic. Immediately I knew there was a chance to do something good at Thanyapura to generate more interest in cycling at both the world class sporting facility and in Phuket.
What facilities are offered at Thanyapura to optimise athletic performance?
A lot of people have fitness gadgets but not everyone knows how to use them. We are working on trying to raise awareness on what you need to do to use these gadgets to improve fitness. We have got a CompuTraining room, which is a state of the art facility where people can come and measure their training zone, heart rate, wattage and cadence. A lot of the old fitness machines measured heart rate. We have now changed to measuring power and that is what the CompuTrainer does. Power is simply the power you put through the pedals. It is good to know what your average power would be over a sustained effort so athlete’s can gage themselves off their power metre.
What makes Phuket an ideal cycling destination?
The weather for one – even if it’s wet, it’s warm. It’s safe to ride here, as there is a big shoulder on the main road. On the other roads we train on, there is hardly any traffic so it’s really good. The Thai people are also pretty patient when it comes to bike riders. Cycling Thailand is one of the most beautiful chances for you as a cyclist to see the country at its best.
The terrain in Phuket is very different to what you were used to in Sydney, what is the most challenging part of training here in Thailand?
There are some really tough little areas to cycle on around Phuket. Around Naithon Beach, there are a lot of short, steep climbs, which is probably the toughest I have ridden but although it is pretty hilly and hard in some areas, the views and the roads are beautiful.
What is the state of cycling in Thailand?
Cycling Thailand has really taken off. I have been to a few races around Thailand where there have been thousands of people on the start line, so it is obvious that the numbers are there. There are a lot of people who ride bikes but there are also a lot who need educating, so we are trying to implement training platforms and educate them along the way to improve their performance. If we do that, I think the sport and cycling Thailand will grow a lot further in the next few years.
How do you plan to create more cycling awareness globally and in Thailand?
We have already started to build more awareness around cycling Thailand and in Phuket. At Thanyapura, we have created the High-Performance Junior Triathlon Team, where a handful of our top coaches work to improve and develop the junior triathletes. We have held a number of cycling events as well. In April, we hosted the Grand Fondo at Thanyapura, which is a 120km bike ride and more than 250 people took part. Towards the end of the year, on November 15th, we will be holding another exciting event – the Phuket Cycling Race powered by Thanyapura. Keep an eye out on our website for more details on cycling Thailand.