The Road to Kona with Nikki Bartlett

Since breaking into the triathlon scene in 2015, Nikki Bartlett has quickly made a name for herself as a rising star in the sport. Just two years after going Pro, Bartlett already had her eyes on the Ironman World Championship and after a hard fought summer of races, she gained enough points to earn her to ticket to Kona.

We recently caught up with Nikki and talked about her training routine, life as a full-time triathlete, and why she rides Rolf Prima wheels.

Rolf Prima: Most triathletes tend have a background in running, cycling, or swimming - but I read that you initially had a rowing background. How did your transition to triathlon come about?
Nikki Bartlett: You're right - I came initially from a rowing background into the sport. However I didn't start rowing until I went to University. I used to do a bit of track running. But by no means was I 'talented' at it. I mainly did it to socialize and be around a fab bunch of people. I loved all sports at school, pretty good to county level but nothing beyond that. Jack of all trades, master of none so to speak ;)
However during my rowing career I went through a couple of years suffering from rib stress fractures, and a friend said she had signed up for a Half Ironman. I thought it was mental, so I tried it out - then I was hooked. I still rowed, did a full Ironman for charity, but eventually the rib stress fractures won, and I chose to start doing some Age Group Triathlon in 2012.

RP: Having done particularly well this season, is there anything you've done differently this year as far as training or other race-preparations go?
NB: I would say the mileage and intensity has gone up somewhat, as we only trained for 70.3 [races] in 2016. But really we've focused on consistency in training. And making sure we don't go over that very fine line. Luckily I have a very good coach to monitor that. We had a very good winter training period, which given that I've had a really interrupted season of niggles and illness, we've got a great base to fall back on.
We've done a lot of specific work on the bike to wattage created from my FTP scores. It's been the first full season I've done training to power, and I've noticed a massive difference with my performance on the bike. Going into Ironman is completely different - 70.3 I feel like it's full gas mode the whole time. But Ironman requires more careful planning.

RP: As someone who is a full time athlete, what does your typical day look like? Is it all training all the time? Whats does a "leisure day" look like for you (if that exists at all)?
NB: I'm not going to lie, when I'm in big blocks of training, training does take all day. If you're full time you really do need to master the recovery part. That's the biggest difference being full time - being able to maximize recovery between sessions. If I don't, I can feel the effects on the next session for sure. I have a little dog too, she's more like a human dog if I'm honest. She loves to sleep (in a human bed) more than walking, so she makes me sit and chill.
There's never a 'typical' training day. But if I took tomorrow for instance - I have a hard turbo session, some heat chamber prep, short sharp swim set and treadmill set. So once you've added In walking Titch (my dog), your day is pretty much over!


RP: What is your go-to wheel choice for race day? Why ride Rolf Prima in general?
My choice is Ares 6, and Rolf Prima Disc. They run so smoothly and it's been a pleasure riding the wheels this year. My first ever Disc wheel and the sound is beautiful. Once it's up and running full speed, it's fast!
The spoke design on the Rolfs are beautiful and oh they're fast. Fastest wheels I've been on. My coach (Rob Cheetham) is specific on the gear I ride. And I can tell why Rolf is up there on one of the fastest wheel sets on the market. Few spokes and super lightweight they feel a lot faster than any other wheel I've ridden on. Plus, the few spokes help make these wheels look absolutely beautiful. I'm looking forward to more fastest bike splits next season on them.


RP: What does next year / the future look like for you?
NB: I really do feel like I'm at he beginning of my career in the sport. Which is extremely exciting, and feel like we are only just tapping into my potential. I do have high aspirations within the sport. But I do feel it's extremely important to appreciate your path / journey and always celebrate the small baby steps in your progression as an athlete. It's so easy to finish a race and always want more. But you have to really be proud of your achievements and steps in the right direction. It's been a great two years as a Pro, and I'm thrilled beyond words to have qualified for Kona (in my first year attempting to qualify). But I'm very aware there's no quick fix or shortcuts to the top. So I'm fully committed to being a full time athlete for many years to come, progressing slowly towards my long term goals. I'm extremely lucky to be supported by a fast, beautiful set of Rolf Primas. Wheels are one of the best investments you can make and I highly recommend the Ares 6 and Disc wheel, it will certainly boost your bike split in the right direction. They're also an eye turner, people are always fascinated by the look of the spokes. They're handmade and you can custom make your own design. From the rim and hubs to decals, which is hot on the eye but also easy to spot whilst your bike is in transition too!