Haliburton County mountain bike racer Nick Emsley had a big 2023 – winning the Canadian Rockies 24 Hour race and starting his own business; Fix it Nick.
Emsley finished second in the 2022 version of the gruelling Alberta race, saying “it was a close race, a tough one.”
So, he was determined to return this past summer to the world-renowned Canmore Nordic Centre.
“The race was exceptionally good… truthfully, I couldn’t have asked for a much better race,” he said of the win.
He was naturally pleased as, “with 24-hour races, you never really know. You can go in as prepared as you want but you never know. I mean it’s 24 hours. How do you prepare?”
For example, he said riders can train for six to eight hour stretches but never actually train for 24 hours straight.
“So, it’s hard to prepare yourself for that 24-hour period, but overall, physically, mentally, you’re all ready to go,” Emsley said.
In the 24-hour solo open men under 40 category, the local completed 21 laps in 23:14:14.2, beating out Magnus Stenlund, who did 20 laps.
“He was a great competitor, we were really neck and neck,” Emsley said of Stenlund. “He kept me really going and we were playing a little cat and mouse for awhile there. But I took the lead in the start and kept a consistent pace at the front. And he kept trying to catch me. Couldn’t have asked for a better 24-hour race. Everything worked out great. My mental picture, physical picture, everything was good.”
He said it is challenging trying to get nutrients right in a 24-hour race. He estimates he burns 700 calories an hour in the first eight hours of an endurance race. Then, muscles deteriorate, requiring less. Near hour 20, he might be burning 500 an hour. But he did burn about 15,000 in 24 hours, “which is a lot.”
He said while riding, he tries to consume about half of what he burns. The challenge is riders cannot take on a lot of solid foods as it takes energy to digest. So, there are a lot of smoothies and “foods that won’t make you sick. Which is hard,” Emsley said.
And while riding, there were only three spots he could actually eat food. “You have to consume around 400-500 calories in three bites. It’s hard to get the right foods. It’s a big challenge but this year everything worked out well.”
It was Emsley’s fourth 24-hour race win in his career.
After that, he did an eight-hour at Harwood Ski and Bike near Orillia. But as it was just a month after the 24 Hour, and he said his deep tissue muscle was not healed from Alberta, he finished fourth.
As for this year, Emsley said he had already registered for the Canadian Rockies 24. It’s July 27-28. He is undecided about Albion Hills since it is only a month prior to the Alberta race. He is planning some eight-hour events.
Fix it Nick
As a person who “likes to do his own thing,” with a “design fabrication mind” and being into construction and maintenance, Emsley started Fix it Nick in April 2023.
“I know there’s a little lacking in the handyman industry right now. All of the contractors, or most of them, have been doing bigger work.”
He said in his first year, he was not expecting anything big but knew it would be hard. “In the spring, I hit my max of 87 hours a week,” he said, which was why he did not train and race as much last year.
It went from not expecting much to a lot of phone calls, Emsley said. It expanded faster than he thought it would. He said he’s tripled what he originally envisaged in one year. “I’m expanding even more this year. So, it’s really good.”
At just 24 years of age, Emsley still wants to race and said he can do so once his business is firmly established.
“It’s been something I’ve been doing for 13 years, having put all of this effort in.”