Nikki Peterson is Source Endurance’s newest coach. A lifelong endurance athlete and current professional mountain biker, she backs up her experience with years of education in the Nutrition and Exercise field. We did a little Q&A with her so you can get to know her.
What was your athletic career pre-cycling?
I started running in 5th grade. I fell in love and worked very hard at a young age! I had a successful high school career and had the opportunity to run at Indiana University and University of Wyoming on an athletic scholarship. While in college, like many runners, I struggled with injuries. In fact, my freshman year I was on a spin bike for six weeks because of a stress reaction. I ran for two days and then made the finals of the Big 10 Championships in the 800m. That caught my attention and I was curious about the bike from that point on. It wasn’t until after college, however, that I got to try mountain biking. I immediately fell in love!
What were you working on in the Nutrition and Exercise lab at University of Wyoming?
Most of my research was on vitamin D status in the athletic population. We found that even athletes who spend a lot of time outdoors were vitamin D insufficient and many were deficient. Our research took place right before the vitamin D craze. I had the most amazing professor and was able to do a lot of work that is typically reserved for Masters and PhD students. I still keep in touch with her a decade later and am very thankful for all of the opportunities she gave to me.
How did you find cycling after your running career?
I co-owned two coffee shops after college and lived in the most amazing town: Lander, WY. NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) has its World Headquarters there, it is an International rock climbing destination, and the population is VERY active! Nearly all of my friends mountain biked and I got into riding through them. I started riding All-Mountain and downhill trails with a group of men where I would crash my way down the mountain! After having ridden a mountain bike less than 10 times, I went to Whistler Bike Park and participated in Andrew Shandro’s Summer Gravity Downhill Camp. I was way over my head but I also learned so much! I feel like I have avoided many crashes by learning to ride from Professional Downhill Racers. Wade Simmons was even my coach for a day!
What was your biggest hurdle in your first year racing and riding?
My biggest hurdle was definitely my bike-handling skills. Going from a downhill bike to a fidgety 100m XC bike is a shocker. I had the natural endurance to place high in the field but would often find myself crashing and losing spots. However, I did improve enough throughout the season to earn a silver medal at USAC National Championships for Cat 1 women 19-26. This allowed me to get my UCI Professional license after one season!
What’s your favorite race memory?
I have a lot but my most favorite race memory that I laugh about is last year at the 2019 Belgian Waffle Ride. It was before I started working with Adam Mills and I was grossly under-prepared. I started bonking during the Black Canyon climb, which is miles 40 to 60ish of 140. I was in a terrible state by the top. My friend and owner of Gup, Tomas, was at the top with an aid station. He hand-fed me bacon and gave me a Coke. I came back to life and ended up having a great rest of the race!
You co-founded KS Kenda Women’s Elite MTB team with an objective of having a supportive place for women and girls to grow in the sport. What do you think is the biggest hurdle for women to join cycling? What’s the best way for an everyday male or female cyclist to encourage women/girls to stay in the sport?
I think the biggest hurdle for women joining the sport is strength in numbers. It can be intimidating for many women to show up and be the only woman at a ride or race. Conversely, not all women are comfortable going out and riding alone. I believe that social media has had a positive impact in this regard as there are forums, posts, and advice for women on what gear to try, how to plan routes, group rides, and more! I think that the best way to encourage women/girls to stay in the sport is to be positive, encouraging, and inclusive. If your wife is afraid to clip-in, don’t hassle her. Find fun ways for her to practice or reach out to another woman to go on a ride with her.
How has your culminating experience between the Nutrition and Exercise lab at University of Wyoming and Program Coordinator for SoCal NICA prepared you to be a great coach?
I have a wide range of life experiences. With a mix of a science background and volunteer coaching through NICA, I have an understanding of training cycles while taking into account real life. Furthermore, through my personal experience as an athlete, I have learned so much about how to juggle full-time work with high aspirations. Lastly, all of my experiences have involved human relations. I believe that having a coach who is knowledgeable, professional, and communicative is the key to seeing physiological adaptations from training happen while juggling other responsibilities.
What is your coaching philosophy?
Fun is fast! With most people working full-time, it can be hard to find motivation after a long day of work. A growth mindset can take an athlete a long way! Also, there are many ways to reach a goal and each athlete is going to respond from something different.
Lightening fill in the blank:
Rain or heat? Rain!
Post-ride tacos or sandwich? Is that really a question? Tacos!
Ski or snowboard? Snowboard, but xc skiing is great too.
60-minute crit or 200-mile gravel race? 200-mile gravel race (I have never raced on a road bike).
Dogs or cats? Cats, even though I have a dog.