Photos taken by Leo Zhukov
Altair Sweden’s Nadine Kåmark is a technical CAE engineer, but she’s also a talented professional trial bike rider! We’ve been fortunate to follow her journey in this competitive world and support her along the way. She had an amazing start to the season and won 2nd place in the Trials World Cup in Vöcklabruck, Austria in July 2018. We chatted with Nadine about her journey in the trial bike world, covering everything from her start, training, and competing at such a high level. Here’s what she had to say:
1. How did your trial biking career begin?
I started riding a unicycle at the age of 14. My neighbor was riding bike trials one day and told me that you also can ride trials with a unicycle. That’s where my interest began! I joined him on a bike trial training and since then I developed good balance from a lot of practice on my unicycle. I learned the basics and bike trials moves quite fast. I’ve been riding and competing in trials since 2008. My neighbor Joacim Nymann is the Swedish champion and we are both on the national team. We travel and train a lot together.
2. What qualified you to compete in the Trials World Cup?
I don’t have female opponents here in Sweden (yet), so I compete against the Junior and Elite Men. Internationally, I’ve competed in the Women’s Elite category and I’m in the top 5. I usually explain it as: My highest level is very high, but my lowest level is slightly low still, due to less competition experience compared to the others. The sport is not as big in Sweden and we just have a few competitions per year. Meanwhile the sport is much bigger in other European countries like Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, etc. Especially in Spain. This means that riders have more opportunity to get much more competition experience.
3. How does trial biking compare to other styles of competitive biking?
Our riding is much more static and much less speed. It’s mainly about balance and explosivity. The goal is to pass a track or “section” without using your feet or any part of the body, within a certain time (2 minutes/section). You should pass specific gates. It’s almost like parkour but on a bike. If you are using a dab (putting down a foot) you will get one penalty point. If you crash or the time ends, or you put down two feet at the same time, you get 5 penalty points which is maximum. The rider who wins the competition is the one with the least amount of points. There are obstacles on the rides, which are usually concrete blocks, logs, rocks, or cable drums.
4. How does the Trials World Cup competition work?
There are usually 5 different sections, and each section you ride 2 or 3 laps. In the Women’s Elite category, we have a semi-final and the top 6 riders qualify to be in the Final. The World Cups usually take place in the middle of a city. On a city square or similar. Since the competitions are compact and the sport is quite fun to watch, it’s also very “audience friendly”. The Men’s Elite riders perform totally insane moves!
5. How does your bike differ from other types of bikes?
First of all, it does not have any seat/saddle. The size of the bike can differ between 20” or 26” (wheel size). Most common is 20”. The frame is very low and the handlebar is quite wide. The brakes are extremely important. There are no gears. The transmission is very low. The bike is quite light. The rear tire is also wider than the front tire on the trial bike.
6. How did you become sponsored by Altair?
I was looking for sponsors to support me in 2018 and since I started to work at Altair around the same time, we decided to put Altair logos on my bike.
7. What is your current role at Altair and how did you come to work for the company?
I am a CAE project engineer working mostly on optimizations, weight savings, and NVH. I did my master’s thesis in cooperation with Altair focused on the topic “Development Process of Topology Optimized Casted Components”. I found Altair by searching the internet for interesting companies to do my master’s thesis. When I saw the Robot bike and Rolo bike projects that Altair has been involved in, and the focus on lightweight optimizations, I decided that Altair was the company I want to work with.
8. What helps you balance your workload and rigorous training?
Altair is absolutely a great employer! They make it possible for me to work and balance have time training and competing. Also, by being my sponsor, they support me with competition traveling costs. Besides training and competing, there are many time-consuming logistics involved with being a part of such a sport. I really appreciate that Altair allows me the opportunity to combine my bike trial career with my engineering career! My flexible work schedule in combination with flexible training is a big deal. The gym is also right next door, which makes it possible for me to plan my training based on my daily work schedule. That’s definitely an advantage of participating in an individual sport where you train individually!