Editors Note: Ventum is very excited to be partnering with Nic Dougall, former World Tour Cyclist, as he comes back to his original sport; triathlon. We sat down with him to discuss the why, the what, the where, the when, and last, but not least, the how.
Images: Kristopher Karzen Words: Justin Diamond
Nic Dougall, 26, is a former World Tour professional cyclist who rode for Dimension Data from 2016-2018. He’s raced in Spain, Norway, England, the Tour De Suisse, and Paris-Roubaix. He has seen the world from the seat of a bike, and even managed to post a top-20 result at the World Championships in Doha, Qatar. Every athlete has a point where they question their place in the sport. For Nic, this isn’t a hanging up of the race wheels so much as a trading of drop bars for bull horns.
Prior to entering the World our, Nic was a triathlete in Australia where he grew up. He found his way into the sport by accident, but that accident quickly turned into a trip to the age group World Championships by the ripe age of 16. “Luckily Worlds was on the Gold Coast, so pretty close to home. At the time I had been doing tri for five years with not much funding, working part time jobs”, Dougall says. It was from here that he launched into cycling, racing for amateur and Australian domestic teams alike. Another motif in any athlete’s career is when they decide to go all in, to sacrifice comfort for the unknown. For Nic he took a chance at the young age of 23 and went all the way to South Africa to form a U-23 team. He left his then girlfriend, now wife, packed his bags and took a chance on himself. This chance paid off. Halfway through the second year in South Africa he got the call up to the major leagues and once again packed his bags to ship off to Europe.
“I started racing right away, and immediately got my head kicked in” Dougall says, “the jump from U-23 to the World Tour is absolutely massive, but as always, your body adjusts in some time”
For a domestique, a rider who works tirelessly to put their team leader in the best position, the sport is brutal, ruthless, and often thankless. “But it wasn’t all bad” Nic exclaims, “Or, rather, it was how hard it was that allowed for camaraderie to grow. There is a certain understanding amongst riders. The races are just so hard and so scary, I mean, you’re barreling down these small European roads, you’re putting your life on the line constantly”
It wasn’t a measure of cycling’s natural insanity that drove Nic away from the sport but rather a question of performance. In cycling, success happens at the margin. Some refer to this concept as “marginal gains”. By Nic’s own accord he wasn’t light enough to be a climber, nor explosive enough to be a sprinter. “If I was in a group of six or seven coming around to the finish, chances are I would be finishing seventh out of that group” he says. The final nail in the coffin came when Dimension Data decided not to renew his contract (hence the thanklessness of the sport. “I started shopping around for teams but quickly asked myself if I even wanted to do it anymore considering the travel, my body type, and all that. I didn’t know where it was going anymore and figured if I was going to go all in for triathlon, now was as good a time as any”
This season Nic will be making yet another jump from amateurs to pros, and is ready to “get his head kicked in” as its been a long time since he’s raced triathlon. Although the sports are quite different, his approach is simple, “In cycling, you can play games during the race. You can save energy by drafting behind someone, and sometimes, the strongest person doesn’t always win” he says, “but that’s not the case in triathlon, there’s no hiding. But you CAN play games before the race. If everyone knows me as a good cyclist and a weak runner, then I can spend hours on my own time working on my run. Everyone will think they’re going to pass me on the run because, historically, that’s what they’ve done. Until one day when they don’t”
Nic illustrates the change in training further by saying, “I was nervous for my first brick workout in a while, but I was so surprised that after a 4 hour ride, my hips, my back, they all felt so smooth on the run. I felt 26, not 62″. But that’s what the Ventum One is designed for; multi-sport athletes. It considers that the rider will be swimming beforehand and running after. And for a cyclist who is used to barreling down narrow European, he continued by adding, “The first time I rode the bike, I was blown away by how comfortable it was, how well it handled. Because in the World Tour, we often stray away from our time trial bikes until we absolutely have to ride them, simply because of how uncomfortable they are.”
We are excited to support an athlete who is as passionate about the sport as Nic is. His first race will be in Oceanside.