Made by bike enthusiasts for bike enthusiasts, we are commited to showing the behind the scenes of their best moments, their sacrifices and daily life.
Today we have Naima Madlen, german athlete that is going to share a bit of her story with us.
How did your journey on cycling started?
For my cycling was just manly a way of transport to get around, to go to university. I was always doing sports… I did ballet for a lot of years, tennis, basketball, but I was not really into endurance sports. I had a friend who was like “You’re quite sporty. You are doing a lot of sports. Why don’t you have a mountain bike and just try it out?” and I was like “Yes, that is a good question. I should get a mountain bike”. So, I got myself a mountain bike, it was in summer so, nice weather, the forest is all green, it is fun to just explore the forest. Then I signed in for a race, a stage race in the Alpes. From Germany to crossing Austria and Switzerland, going to Italy. It was an eight-day race… I just signed down like “Yeah, it looks like fun” … I did not even know where I was getting myself to. I had like 4/5 weeks on my mountain bike, to get “prepared”, but it was not really a preparation. And, of course, it was really hard, but it was also a lot fun. Everyone was like” Ok, even if you finish you are not going to do any more cycling”. So, I got to the finish and I was like “Yes I am definitely doing it again” and that is basically how it started.
And do you prefer competition or just a peaceful ride?
I think it is good to have a mixture. I have done lots of competition already and like to set myself a goal to just see how I can manage it… A competition is always a bit stressful because you want to do well. It is a huge preparation, since training, support, also, of course, with equipment. That is why is so important to know where to get your stuff from.
I really enjoy both. Like I said is great to explore the area around your hometown, or a holiday area. If I go somewhere, I always try to get my bike with me, just to get to know the area. But also, you can combine that with race. I go to certain places like Portugal and, unfortunately, I been in Portugal before but just for races. This is my second time here and it is great, of course, but I can not really enjoy the view while I am racing, but sometimes I can. And it is a special bonding between the place you go race and being on a bike.
What is your favourite memory?
I think is always great to create memories with people you like so, the cool thing about mountain bike is that, somehow everyone has the same kind of craziness. You get to meet people over and over again… When I got here, on the journey, I was a staying at a friends’ place, in Madrid, who I met during a couple of races. She was like “Ok, if you go to Madrid, you are welcome to stay here, just to rest before flying to Oporto”. Is great to have this whole combination with people and atmosphere, but of course is also nice to have the memories with people who are close to me. A couple of years ago I was just doing amateur stuff, I did not have a license yet, I did a national cross-country race. I had my dad with me, who is not really into sports, for him is great to just go on a bike and do whatever this is… He does not care, because is not into sports. Just thinks that is great to do the effort. So, I went to the national race and I won. He was just happy to have in the finish line also because I had a pretty nasty crash, just right in front of him. But he was happy to have me safe. For me it was nice to celebrate and having him with me. That is probably a quite cool memory. This year had been already awesome for me, went to a couple of really cool places and I did some really good racing, did not expected anything, so I surprised myself quite nice.
What is the best thing you already learn by riding a bicycle?
For me, riding the bicycle, is a perfect balance because I am working, a normal job, and it is great to forget all the stress I have at work or just from the things I have on daily life… You can just jump on the bike and forget. Sometimes I train with music, but most of the time, especially on mountain bike, I love to have nature around me and listen to the birds, the wind going through the trees. It is peaceful, it does not really matter if I want to do some effort or just a ride to enjoy some trails. It always brings me back to withstand the next challenge life is throwing at me. That is a cool thing.
You said you have a normal job. How do you deal with the normal job, the family and all of that?
Sometimes it can get quite stressful. I think the most important is trying to not stress out too much. I have a job, I started around 7 am and can only leave work when everything is done, and that could be 6 pm or maybe, if I get lucky, 4 pm. Sometimes and just want to go home, get a cup of coffee, and just sit down. I try to organize myself whether I go on my bike straight to work or meeting some friends after work. I really set my dates and that is how I try to organize. Of course, is always a big plus if you have your friends and family helping you out and you can rely on them.
Thank you so much Naima for spending your time with us. We are glad to share your story with our cycle fans.
This is the first episode of the Humans of Cycling. We will try to bring one different story every week, we want to connect you to the athlete's stories, the sacrifices, the best moments, and everything they learned on the journey.