Team USA Resident-Athlete Series: Nick Gibb of Para-Cycling

By Melissa Zhang | July 09, 2019, 12:06 p.m. (ET)

Para-cyclist Nick Gibb in competition
Nick Gibb, 36, is vying for his first Paralympic Team for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Get to know the athletes living at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Center in Chula Vista, California through the Team USA Resident-Athlete Series. Each month, USParalympics.org will feature one Paralympic athlete in detail, as they share their athletic and personal journeys, favorite pump-up song, goals for the future, and much more.

Meet Para-cyclist Nick Gibb, one of the many resident-athletes living and training at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Gibb recently won two national titles at the 2019 USA Cycling Para-cycling Road National Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee and is vying for his first Paralympic Team in Tokyo.

Name: Nick Gibb

Age: 36

Sport: Para-cycling

Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
School: Western State Colorado University (Business Administration) 
Recent accomplishments: Won two national championships at the 2019 USA Cycling Para-cycling Road National Championships in the time trial and road race for the MC5 class.


Favorite thing about living in Colorado Springs:
The location, since I'm originally from Colorado so I'm close to my hometown and my family. It's also great being at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and training with the altitude here, so all of that combined makes the Springs a great area. 


Favorite meal in the dining hall: Pad Thai on Tuesdays! That is definitely a meal I always look forward to. I always get mad at my coach if he gives me a long ride on Tuesday and I miss my Pad Thai.

Favorite place on campus: The recovery center in the Ted Stevens Sports Services Center. I primarily use the cold plunge/ice bath there, which is hard to do in a home environment besides wasting your refrigerator's ice every night and doing it in your own bathtub. I've found using the cold plunge on a continuous basis to be a huge advantage, in terms of recovery for inflammation and pain control.    

 

When did you first get involved with your sport?
I grew up in a very athletic family, so I’ve always been competitive and outdoorsy. My father was in the ski industry and I was a ski racer, so in the summers for dry land training, we did quite a bit of mountain biking. In 2004, I got in a work-related accident that created permanent damage to my lower left leg. I was in-and-out of surgery for about seven years, and then when my leg stabilized, I was in a bad mental state because I wasn't pursuing athletics. My father was the one who suggested I pick up cycling again since it was a non-impact sport that I could probably still do. 

My leg wasn't stable enough to get into mountain biking again, so I went out and bought a road bike. I found very quickly that I was able to do it and do it well. I started doing 100-mile charity rides racing against able-bodied athletes, and at that point I found out about the Paralympics. I started beating guys with two good legs and thought, "maybe there's something here". I got recognized at a Para-cycling national championship and was brought in about a year and a half ago to build for Tokyo. 

 

What’s your favorite thing about your sport?
The feeling of freedom. When I'm on a bike, I don't feel like I'm impaired. I'm able to cycle as well, if not better than I could before my injury. Just being outside with the sun on my shoulders and wind in my face, is what I live for.  

Where is the coolest place that you’ve competed at?
I've been very fortunate to compete in many different areas, but probably my favorite so far was Corridonia, Italy just a few months ago where we raced at the 2019 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup. We compete in Europe quite often, but this course in Italy was much more technical and hilly, which you don't always see on the Paralympic side. The scenery was incredible as well. 

Who is someone you look up to? Who’s someone you consider a role model?
If I had to pick one person, it would have to be my father. Not only are we very close, but he's also mentored and helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. I always looked up to him and wanted to be like him. He was a sales rep in the ski industry, and I also became a sales rep in the outdoor industry myself before I started cycling full-time.

I remember one thing he said to me in the hospital that really helped was, "the character of a man is not determined in the straightaways of life, but in the curves of life." It's those kinds of lessons that he's taught me over the years that have helped me make the best out of some really difficult situations. 

If you had to compete in any other Paralympic sport, what would it be and why?
We have to travel with two bikes, two helmets, two sets of wheels, which is extremely difficult and very gear-intensive. If I had to do this all over, I would have been a track and field athlete or a swimmer, where all I had to do is travel with a carry-on bag and a set of shoes or swimsuit or something very basic -- checking in luggage would be so much easier! But it's hard to say because I love my sport so much and am a total gear-head. I love the gear and technology side of it. 

What’s your favorite pump-up song before you compete?
I actually listen to very calming music, things that are more on the classical basis. I personally get so amped up that I expend a lot of unnecessary energy before I race. So, in order to calm myself down and reserve that energy for when it counts, I listen to much more calming music.  

What has been your proudest moment in your athletic career so far?
My proudest moment so far was being named to my first worlds team last year for the 2018 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Rio de Janeiro. That had to have been my proudest moment for sure, just having the opportunity to represent Team USA internationally. It was a moment that I'll always remember.

There's going to be other achievements, I hope, that are going to be bigger than that, results-wise. But to date, and forever, I will always remember that moment.   

What are some of your goals for your athletic career?
Competing in the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 is my goal. You can call it a short or a long-term goal, but that is what I'm putting all my emphasis in right now. I'm not looking beyond Tokyo right now because I need to be able to put 100 percent into achieving my goal. As soon as I start looking elsewhere, I risk taking myself off the course I need to stay on.

So really, it's 2020 and there is nothing else that is on my mind besides making that team. There's world championships and other things that are happening between now and then, but all of them play into the end goal which is 2020.