Nick Salerno

Nick has always enjoyed riding bikes. Growing up, he had been exposed to all types of cycling. Beginning with BMX, he could be found on the streets, angling sheets of plywood up to cinder blocks. He progressed to dirt- jumping and developed a sixth sense for handling his bike in the air. When he was 13, he graduated to a mountain bike, and it was his primary mode of transportation as well as his first set of wheels taken into some single track at Round Valley. He didn’t realize what he had done when he cleaned a rock garden among some lycra-wearing bystanders. A keen sense of balance seemed to come naturally to him, whether he was on ice skates, a skateboard, slack line, or even his unicycle.

A pivotal moment in his late teens was when he purchased a Schwinn S-Carbon XC bike, just before earning his driver’s license. Even with the privilege to drive, Nick opted to ride his bike around his small town to get places, preferably at night to enjoy the coolness of the air and buzzing of street lamps. At this time, his friends with whom he rode with had all gotten tied up with cars, girlfriends, and jobs, but he never gave up his time on his bike. In college, he rode the Schwinn to class and that was how another cyclist recognized his bike at Washington Valley Park one day. This cyclist was a free rider and piqued Nick’s interest in long-travel all-mountain type riding. It was then when he built his first of many custom bicycles, a hobby that is a favorite to this day.

The series of events that finally led him towards an interest in racing was sparked by a chance reunion with an old college friend who invited him to a trail maintenance day at Ringwood in October of ‘08. It was then that Nick began to realize that these were the type of people he wished to surround himself with for the rest of his life. Soon after, he figured out a way to turn a hobby into a career in bicycles by aspiring to become a pro mechanic. He figured he could get a good feel for what racers would demand from their machines and their mechanics by immersing himself in the racing scene. It was the support and council of a few awesome friends who believed in him that gave him the push he needed to start heading his life in its current direction.

Height: 5’ 8

December Weight: 176 lbs

Race Weight: 158 lbs and dropping!

Birthdate: November 6th, 1980

Childhood Heroes: “My old neighbor, Frank. He was THE coolest guy ever. He took me fishing, to car shows, taught me about classic rock, let me help him work on his Jeep in his garage, helped me work on my bikes, showed interest in everything I did growing up, and was pretty much the father (or the deranged older brother) I never had. I miss him.”

Hobbies and Interests: “All types of individual sports or activities that test my personal limits, creativity, and imagination – surfing, hiking, rock climbing, skateboarding, playing guitar, reading, and building and repairing bikes.”

Favorite Movies: “Man, this could be a long list, but a few standouts are The Big Lebowski, The Goonies, Jaws, BIG, You’ve Got Mail, anything by the Farrelly Brothers, Fargo, Into The Wild, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Serendipity, and almost every 80’s movie.”

Musical Tastes: “I’m open-minded and I like all kinds for different situations. As a musician, I can appreciate all kinds of music if it’s performed well. My hatred for terrestrial radio has severely limited my exposure to what passes for good music. I like my satellite radio and I have access to so many great bands and songs I’ve never heard of that I can’t possibly remember who or what they are.”

Favorite TV Shows: “I don’t watch TV, but I catch South Park episodes online and I think it’s one of the funniest shows ever created.”

Favorite Meal: “My homemade vodka sauce. I’ve never had it better anywhere else.”

Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Plain Cheerios or Honey Bunches of Oats with almonds.”

Favorite Pre-Race Meal: “Oatmeal with peanut butter and sun-dried apricots.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough! Although I have been coaxed into trying other flavors, I seem to always return to this one.”

Childhood Dream: “I had many and they changed often. One major one was to be a fighter jet pilot. I used to know how to I.D. every military jet and dreamed of someday flying them. When I was 14, I went for my first flight on a commercial airliner and I puked my guts out the whole time. That was the end of that.”

First Car: “A red 1990 Ford Probe. It was 5th hand, passed down from one friend to another, to my dad, to my sister, then to me. It was a piece of shit, but I remember trying to catch air over railroad crossings and plowing through piles of raked leaves along the roadsides.”

First Job: “I was a cashier at the local Foodtown. I was hired to stock shelves, but they kept sticking me on the registers. It sucked and I constantly made mistakes and needed to have someone come help me. I hated feeling helpless, stupid, and the stinging glares of the impatient shoppers’ eyes on me. I quit after two weeks.”

Favorite Vacation Spot: “So far I really loved visiting the hot springs of Yellowstone in Wyoming and the South Lake Tahoe region of Northern California. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen so far. I’m really looking forward to checking out Oregon later this year.”

Pre-Race Feeling: “Anxious. When I was little, I was the pukey kid who always yakked on the school bus on class trips. I used to have a problem with nerves when I was about to do something strange or different, so I wouldn’t eat. The nervous feeling plus hunger always equaled sickness. Now that I have a few races in me and am more confident in my ability, I can stomach my breakfast and the nervous uncertainty has turned into anxiety (the good kind) and anticipation.”

Early Racing Memory: “Lining up pre-dawn at my first race, the Big Frog 65. I was so nervous that I had actually come full circle and appeared entirely calm. Ellen Serruto was next to me and commented on how calm I looked, when actually I think I was shitting.”

Funny Racing Memory: “At the 2009 H2H Tymor Park Challenge, I was negotiating a technical section then leaped forward to accelerate into a flat when the tip of my saddle caught the back of my shorts. They came right down and I popped a moon at the guy behind me.”

Greatest Racing Moment: “At the Big Frog 65, my first race ever, I reached the 50-mile mark and realized I was actually going to finish. I knew for weeks leading up to the race, if I finished, I was going to do a huge wheelie through the finish line. I struggled through the last few climbs, but descending down into the valley for the last time, charging up the side of the highway, crossing the bridge and into the final stretch, cowbells ringing and people cheering, I had enough strength to kick the pedal down and crank a huge wheelie all the way through the gates.”

Worst Injury from Racing: “It wasn’t a race, but I was descending Chimney Rock Road on my XC bike and came into a sharp left-hand curve too hot. I drifted towards the edge, lost control and flipped over the guardrail and into the woods. I got up thinking I was okay, but I realized I had torn my thigh open on the edge of the vertical guardrail support.

“Another time I crash-landed a stair gap and slid on my stomach with my left hand under my body. I thought I only ripped my glove, but when I turned my hand over, I saw that I had completely removed the nail off my pinky finger. I got 4 stitches and it eventually grew back..”

Closest Racing Friends: “Laura Winberry, Johan Nel, Jennifer Barden, and Jim Vreeland. Their motivation and personal achievements continue to push me beyond my own personal limits.”

Funniest Racer: “Johan when he does his Borat impersonation. It’s all I can do to not piss myself.”

Favorite Race: “The 2009 Tymor Park Challenge. It had the best mix of technical sections, elevation change, and singletrack I’ve ever ridden. Plus it was really, really muddy, which I particularly enjoyed.”

Embarrassing Racing Memory: “This hasn’t happened, but I have a fear of being lined up in a pack before the start of a race and me tipping over and taking out everyone like dominoes. I tip over sometimes.”

Toughest Competitors: “Johan. It will be a great day when I finally beat him. Me. Dealing with and overcoming the conflicts that arise between my mental and physical self.”

Favorite Athletes to Watch: “Any moment when an athlete succeeds and you witness the culmination of all the work they’ve put in, the payoff of their efforts, their sense of achievement, and the unstoppable flow of emotions that pours from them. I hope to feel that someday.”

Qualities You Most Admire in People: “Selfishness. Read The Fountainhead and you’ll know exactly what I mean.”

What You Love Most About Riding Your Bicycle:
“This is a no-brainer. It’s just fun. It has also become a means by which I can measure just how far I can push myself physically. The stronger and more fit I’m becoming, the farther I want to see if I can go. Lastly, it’s the people I’ve met and the places I’m sure this sport will take me.

What is better than an activity that has such immense health benefits, environmental benefits, and has the ability to unite people in such an awesome way? I can’t think of anything.”