2016 through the eyes of Nicole Frybortova
She is 23, athletic and graceful. Her third UCI World Championships medal just a few weeks ago, confirms her position among the best artistic cyclists in the world.
Nicole Frybortova is also National Champion of Slovakia and this year broke the country’s national record.
While most people associate Slovakian cycling with Peter Sagan, Nicole Frybortova has her own considerable fan base, with videos of her gymnastic performances on her bike going viral. They no doubt contribute to a rising popularity and recognition of this lesser-known cycling discipline.
“I’m surprised how popular my Facebook page is but I am thankful about it. My fans are really great!”
Her bronze medal at the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, at the beginning of December came after a silver medal last year and bronze in 2014. Only the gold medal is missing from her collection. However, she is quick to cite this year’s bronze as one of the highlights of 2016, particularly as her final preparation was hampered by a hand injury.
Another highlight was her new Slovak record (176,08) which she set at the second round of the Swiss Austria Masters in October.
Behind these performances are many hours of meticulous work learning and perfecting tricks, which doesn’t mean that everything will necessarily go right on the day.
Despite winning her national championships this year, Nicole Frybortova does not have good memories of the competition.
“I spent more time on the floor than on my bike,” she rues. “If I fall I have to continue and I try not to think about what happened because I can’t change it.
“I think everyone is nervous before a competition and I am too. How do I deal with it? I bang fists with my mum, then I try to concentrate on what I have to do and imagine that I am just in training.”
Fitting many hours of training around studies, competitions and shows leaves little time for leisure.
“I don’t have so much time to relax… Indoor cycling is a really nice sport but you have to train hard and a lot. All the athletes are getting better so I have to get better too. I have to try new tricks.”
Not only does the talented athlete travel to competitions throughout Europe, she also participates in exhibitions which have taken her even further afield, such as to Abu Dhabi last October where she performed at the UCI Cycling Gala.
“I really enjoy exhibitions and shows because I can see that people like artistic cycling. To have them applauding and giving standing ovations is a beautiful feeling.”
In Abu Dhabi she performed as a pair with Yannick Martens, Men Singles Swiss Champion and bronze medallist at this year’s UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships in the Single Men competition.
The glamorous duo are partners both on and off the bike.
Nicole Frybortova acknowledges that her chosen sport comes with certain frustrations, not least having to bow to the jury's decisions which can sometimes appear unfair.
She would also like indoor cycling to give her more financial stability: “All my equipment, training, travel (except to the UCI World Championships – financed by the Slovak Cycling Federation) and so on is financed by my mum.
“You have to love this sport, because you don’t earn money with it and it costs so much time and money.”
Even so, she would not change her sport for anything:
“I love my bike.”
It’s as simple as that.