It’s 11:30 at night, I’m in Belgium with Rachel Walker of Hope Technology. The town is asleep and we sit waiting in our B&B for local rider Nico Vink to arrive. Neither of us have met him in person before, we’ve both only ever seen him at a glance or on a small screen, usually complimented with a good dollop of pan and zoom courtesy of Mr Rankin of Sprung Video. Whenever we talk to people who know Nico, they always start with the same sentence, “He’s one of the nicest guys in mountain biking”…
From Dirt Issue 137 – July 2013
Words by Sam Needham. Photos by Sam Needham.A white van pulls up the drive and out steps Nico. Straight away he lives up to his reputation. He’s certainly the most air born, down–to–earth chap I’ve ever met, and it seems everyone would agree. Dirt: So Nico, tell us where it all started.
Nico: My dad owned a bike shop when I was young, so you could say it was his influence that made me pick up a bike more enthusiastically at first. I used to ride bikes all the time when I was a kid, messing about on two wheels with friends as you do when you’re young.
There was a good group of us who rode BMX and mountain bikes, the same group remains pretty much intact today too. The village we were from, lived up to the Belgian stereotype of being very flat, pancake flat in fact, so we had to get imaginative. When we were all about 10 years old the council shifted a load of dirt from the graveyard onto the bottom of my street. The dirt didn’t remain a lifeless heap for long. A few spades and shovels later and we had ourselves a track that would be where we would race, jump, dig and hang out every night.
My good friend and riding buddy Kristoph Lessens (Kona/Hope Belgian Downhiller) moved away from our village at the age of 14. I started riding a lot more BMX between the times Kristoph would visit on his holidays. A couple of years later I got invited to race the DH national champs by chance, so I entered the race on a day pass and turned up on a hard tail of some description. I won the race and became the Youth National Champion to people’s surprise, as they had never heard of me let alone seen my face before. I guess it all kicked off from there really. A few months later, Kona heard about my win and supported me, all off the back of the one race. I got a couple of bikes, and got the racing bug from there on in.>>