Recently 'retired' from the Enduro World Series, his Polygon Factory Team and a life living out of a suitcase - Jamie Nicoll has returned to his roots and house truck in Nelson. The summer's itinerary scoped plenty of classic backcountry adventures, back to back wins at the NZ Enduro, some pest control work for DOC, track building on the Wharfedale Track with the Slush Fund and regular visits to Ground Effect for coffee and citrus date scones. He's just headed back to Europe and North America for their summer to cherry pick his favourite events, including the Trans-Provence in which he podiumed in 2014 and 15.
Photo: Digby Shaw
By Jamie Nicoll
The Trans-Provence is the original multi-day mtb stage race. Since 2009, the course has wound its way through the Alpes-Maritimes to the Mediteranian Coast. This year it kicks off in Embrun, and finishes in the beautiful old town of Menton. 6 days, 24 stages - racing 'blind' on sections none of the competitors have seen or ridden. Every year the tracks are varied and epic, the views stunning, and the general vibe amongst mates, old and new, great.
My pre race preparation has been a rinse and repeat of the last couple of years' riding the EWS, getting into a rhythm of training, racing, rest and recovery that I'll generally maintain throughout the season. Short training rides are under two hours with high intensity sprint intervals. My longer rides tend to be around three to four hours.
No longer tied to the EWS circuit has meant I can pick my own races, and intersperse these with some backcountry adventures. I begin the European summer with the Trans-Provence (18-25 June) and then the plan is to be on the start line of the brand new Trans BC Enduro in Canada (4-9 July) - just over a week later. This might not sound too bad except six days of intense racing at Trans-Provence normally requires 2 to 3 weeks to recover from the the muscle damage, general wear and tear on my body, plus the mental stress of maintaining that extreme level of focus and concentration for six days straight.
So, I'm going to try a few new things and generally look after myself so I can do both events back to back at my peak performance. One of the biggest shifts I have made over the NZ summer is to my diet - basically training my body to run ultra efficiently on fat and protein, but with nearly zero carbohydrates - ketosis.
Through the Keto Diet, athletes, especially in endurance sports, have been increasing their performance and with less muscle damage. This looks like it could really help me, but hopefully I haven’t converted too late? We'll see, as the Trans-Provence is only days away now.
I'll keep you posted.