Nick Kleban is a third-year Bachelor of Science student at McGill University majoring in Physiology. Growing up in Squamish, BC, and with deep ties to the cycling community, Nick is a former member of the Cycling BC High Performance program on the cross-country mountain bike team.
Nick has recently made the switch from mountain biking to road and now leads the McGill Cycling Club as the club’s president. Taking it up another notch, Nick was recently offered a spot on the Team Skyline professional cycling UCI team based out of Pennsylvania. The team is affiliated with the charity Winning the Race with Diabetes and their goal as a team is to educate people around the world and the communities they race in about the management and prevention of diabetes through sport and lifestyle.
We had the chance to catch up with Nick recently and got to know him a little bit better through an assortment of 21 ‘AMA’ (ask me anything) type of questions below.
1. Do you have any nicknames that your team, friends, or family call you by?
There’s definitely been a few, most of the time being some morph of my last name. The most common is “Kleeb” but there’s been some others. This summer “Klebantor” came up, but honestly that one reminds me more of a burger from Wendy’s more than anything. Actually there was a brief stint as a junior where I was “Nick Phelps” while racing on Cycling BC (discussed later).
2. You were on the Cycling BC High Performance team at one point in time; what do remember about your experience and what impact did it have on you?
The whole experience there was really memorable. It was my first time travelling for races and training and I made lots of friends there that I’m still close with now. I think also being around older high performance athletes at that time definitely showed me the commitment it takes to be a racer.
3. Who do you admire most in the sport of cycling and why?
I’m a big fan of James Piccoli. I’ve never met him but have heard lots of stories about him through mutual friends in Montreal. I really admire his obvious work ethic that got him to the World Tour, but also all what he’s done for the bike community in Montreal.
4. What’s your favourite app on your phone?
My generic answer is Strava if we go off of sheer hours spent on any given app, however, my more niche answer is this app called “Windy”. I think it’s mostly utilised by kite-surfers, but it’s great for cyclists too. It tells you the exact direction of the wind and how strong it is. Somedays, I just want to avoid a headwind at all costs.
5. What are your pet peeves?
People that have too many pet peeves.
6. What’s your favourite tv show at the moment?
Prison Break. 100% hooked at the moment.
7. What did you learn most about yourself in the past year (during the Covid pandemic)/ What good, if anything, can you take away from this past year?
I think I learned that I don’t need too much going on to be happy. I spent the year essentially in the same routine; wake up, bike, do some school and watch a little TV before bed with my girlfriend / roommates. It was a surprisingly fun year regardless of the pandemic.
8. Describe your first bike.
I remember it being a blue Norco 16” kids mtb. That thing must have been 30lbs.
9. If you were a bike part, what part of the bike would you be and why?
I think at this point in my university degree, I can relate to my chain. I may be worn but I still work.
10. Who is a person (dead or alive) that you would like to have dinner with?
One person I’d love to meet in person is Alex Honnold (free climber). Not sure we’d have much to say to each other, but I’d love to hear from him about the pressure of his climbs. That’s something that’s hard for me to imagine so I would love to hear it from him.
11. What has been your proudest cycling achievement or moment so far?
Signing to Skyline this season was big for me. Also I became the president of the cycling club at McGill this past year which I’m super proud to be a part of.
12. What are your cycling goals for 2021?
I’m looking to gain as much experience as I can in UCI races, be a team player and hopefully learn a thing or two from the more experienced guys on the team along the way. Any results would just be a huge bonus on top! Oh yeah, and have fun.
13. If you weren’t riding bikes, what other sport(s) do you think you would be pursuing?
Well as mentioned, I’ve gained a reputation in the water. Some say I’m pretty speedy on my back*. Also my stepback jumpshot has been feeling really smooth as of late**. Heart over height.
*Nick’s highest level of swimming is “Swim Kids Level 7”
**Nick shoots approximately 22% from the field on stepback jumpers.
14. How would you describe the collegiate racing scene?
Down to earth and really lowkey. The packs are typically smaller than in open races which was super beneficial to my development when I was adjusting from XC racing to the road. That’s not to say the quality of competition is low though. There are definitely some very fit guys and girls who race collegiately.
15. What song/music artist are you currently loving at the moment?
Ever since his SuperBowl halftime show, I’ve been listening to a lot of The Weeknd’s music.
16. What’s your favourite inspirational quote or saying?
I don’t know who said it but I like “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
17. You worked for Cycling BC one summer as an events rep; what was your favourite part of that experience?
That was a super cool experience to see how things work behind the scenes in organizing races etc. I had raced many of the same events I was working at as a junior racer and I think it showed me how many dedicated people (many are volunteers) there are that help make bike races possible. I always try to make sure I thank the organizer for hosting events now in events I’m personally competing in. That summer also really helped me hone my excel skills (thank you Cory for being patient with me – I’m a regular of V-lookups to this day).
18. I hear you made the switch from Mountain Biking to Road cycling as your primary cycling discipline? What made you decide to switch it up?
Yup, I went full roadie. It wasn’t really any overnight decision or anything, I kind of just found myself riding my road bike more and more in Montreal since that is what all my friends were doing. I ended up trying out road racing in 2019 on the collegiate circuit which went well for me. It wasn’t really until early 2020 that I decided I wasn’t going to target any mountain bike races for the season. It’s crazy to think about. I feel like I’ve been in the sport so long, but I only have a handful of races under my belt.
19. What are three things that are going well for you in life and what is something you would like to improve?
I’ve got lots of great friends, a healthy relationship, I’m close to graduating university and I’ve been really happy with how training is going as of late. You could say life is pretty good at the moment! I think the COVID pandemic really showed me I don’t handle uncertainty well so if I’d have to improve something it would be that.
20. How would you describe yourself as a (road) rider? Do you have a specialty?
I think climbing is definitely my strength, but I think I can do other things well too. I’m sure with more race experience, I’ll figure out more and more what kind of rider I am.
21. Any final words or thoughts?
I would say if you’re a young aspiring cyclist and it’s not going your way or you are not where you think you should be in terms of results etc, stick at it. From my experience, people / athletes develop at different rates and a little patience and perseverance can go a long way.
Other than that, thanks for taking the time to catch up!
Swipe to view more Images