How Kateřina Nash continues

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The Clif Pro Team withdraws at the end of the season, but Kateřina Nash, one of its oldest pilots, is not going anywhere.

In fact, Nash is about to enter his 15th cyclocross racing season, after a summer spent indulging in mountain bike and endurance racing (of which she says, “let’s just say they were really personal challenges, I really don’t like long distances “).

At 43, Nash is both one of the cross-country circuit’s most veteran racers and a trailblazer. While her main role on Clif has always been as a mountain biker – she never spent a full season cyclo-cross in Europe – Nash has always been a two-discipline athlete (and, if you count cross-country skiing, she excelled in three).

“In my career, I have never needed to stop mountain biking and fully engage in cross-country,” she said. “I never did it 100%, I did it very seriously but I didn’t have these 30 races per season in cross country. I would look at the schedule to get to the world championships with a good number of points to be competitive, but by mid-April I would turn around and be back on mountain biking. It worked for me, but I don’t think a lot of people would be up to it.

Do it for a decade. Katie Compton, Marianne Vos and Nash (LR) on the podium at the 2011 Cyclocross World Championships. (Photo: Tim De Waele | Getty Images)

However, an analysis of the 2021 competitive cycling landscape shows us that Nash has just been ahead of the game. cross season, Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock ripping any surface on their bikes, and the countless number of pro riders enjoying the gravel, it’s clear that year-round fitness isn’t the only one something that inspires riders to sway – and excel – in all disciplines.

“I don’t think runners have to engage,” Nash said. “Obviously, I have been a multidisciplinary athlete for over a decade. Before, a lot more women would combine two disciplines because it was a good way to make more money, but now we are seeing male athletes successfully jumping and combining.

While talent and a genuine love of cycling motivate most multidisciplinary cyclists, it also makes their employers very happy.

“I’m sure my sponsors loved having a strong mountain bike and a ‘cross rider’,” said Nash. “The same runner with the same salary doing two disciplines?

Clif and ‘cross

Luckily for Nash, cross country became her second discipline after mountain biking, although managers of Clif’s team (then the Luna Pro Team) had hoped she would embark on the XTERRA triathlon race.

“I just remember having this conversation about XTERRA, like ‘hell no I’m not going to swim in the pool, not at all’,” Nash said.. Fortunately, the same year Georgia [Gould] joined the team and had already done cross country. So it was like, ‘Can I cross country with Georgia instead of XTERRA?’ “

Nash had been with Luna since 2002, so as the original member of the ATV team she had weight. Yet no one knew how the Czech skier turned pro mountain biker would fare on the cyclocross circuit.

Nash leads Gould in the 2012 Deschutes Brewery Cup USGP race. (Photo: Wil Matthews)

In 2006, Nash and Gould hit the national cross country scene, focusing on the now defunct USGP series. Nash says even she was surprised at how well she accepted the discipline.

“It was like I had found my perfect sport and I couldn’t stop doing it,” she said.

And with good results from the start, Luna has been very supportive.

“With the USGP, it was like, ‘So can we get some more money from you guys?’ It started off cold, not a huge stretch of the season, “she said.” But once it started I was way too addicted. I started looking more and more for ways to adapt it to the mountain biking season.

Nash became a force in the discipline, winning the USGP Finals in her first racing season and consistently rising to the top of the discipline every year she competed. In 2009, she won the USGP General Series and in 2010, she went abroad to compete in a handful of World Cups. In January of the same year, she won the elite race in Roubaix.

Nash went on to claim more cyclocross victories, including five more World Cup titles and a myriad of podiums. Twice she won a bronze medal at the world cross country championships. Yet she always conscientiously returned to her mountain bike over the seasons. Does she wonder what would have happened if she had definitely changed her bike? Yes, but the commitment to both has always been his prerogative.

“I’ve always had a good thing with Clif, so I think about what would have happened if I had given it away [cyclocross] a full time game, but I really enjoy mountain bike racing and I also had a lot of mountain bike goals, ”Nash said. “Obviously the team has been really, really cool over the past 20 years. Throughout my career, I have never needed to stop mountain biking and fully engage in cross country.

Nash wins the 2014 World Cup in Namur, Belgium. (Photo: Tim De Waele)

Multi-discipline for victory

As Nash nears the end of her nearly 20-year tenure with Clif, she’s not ready to hang up either set of wheels. In fact, if this year is any indication, she’ll add a set of gravel hoops to the mix. And while she’s looking for a new team or deciding how to create her own program, she already has what many sponsors are looking for: she can ride in all disciplines.

“And I think that’s what the sponsors are enjoying right now,” Nash said. “I think it gives more options to young athletes. For me, cycling of all kinds has been very beneficial. Each has built a skill set which I transferred to the other discipline. Whether it’s doing reviews and learning sprints or even doing enduro and realizing that people ride mountain bikes much faster than XC mountain bikers. I really appreciated the diversity.

Katerina nash
Nash at the 2018 Epic Rides Grand Junction Off-Road, right off the bat. (Photo: Brenda Ernst)

Nash broke her collarbone in early March, knocking her out for most of the 2021 World Cup mountain biking season. Instead, she recovered calmly and with diversity. She trained on her road bike in California and rode gravel in Moab. She returned to the Czech Republic to visit family, hike and swim. In Europe, she participated in local races.

Then, in early July, Nash lined up at the Belgian Waffle Ride in San Diego to run the longest distance of her career and won it.

Nash’s decades of training and his intimate knowledge of how his body and mind respond to various efforts are the basis of his prolific career and the support and resources of his team have been the scaffolding. As her cross-country racer Rebecca Fahringer commented on Nash’s Instagram page, “You have the deepest fitness of all.”

So how will Nash continue to build her cycling legacy?

“There’s always something going on, always something new,” she said. “I think it’s exciting to be a cyclist right now. Gravel is so vast with such a wide range of skills. This is the perfect crucible for all these athletes from different cycling disciplines. Whether they want to extend their career or just want to change direction.

“A few years ago, if you were abandoned by a team, you were done,” she said. “But, you never know if you’re done in your early 30s, cycling is an endurance sport.”


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