Riding is Life


A rider in the UK Hill Climb championships rides up The Struggle. Kit Nicholson's smiling mug is implausibly, crappily Photoshopped over the rider's.

Our favourite stories: Kit Nicholson has some impressive range

Kit Nicholson's ability to draw on her own – and others' – emotions to transport the reader into another dimension are unparalleled.

Abby Mickey
by Abby Mickey 28.12.2023 Photography by
Matt Grayson
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Welcome to our year-end Favourite Stories series. To pick the best of our over 1,000 stories published this year, we assigned each of our staff and core contributors to write about someone else. Today, Abby Mickey contemplates the multifaceted Kit Nicholson.

It’s hard to accurately and succinctly put into words what Kit Nicholson brings to Escape Collective. One of the most observant people I’ve ever met, Kit is kind and passionate while also being matter-of-fact in her stories. Her writing is enviable, the way she is able to put you at the scene of the crime so effortlessly. Even though she herself works mainly from her apartment in Edinburgh, you’d think she was on the ground of every event she covers. She has this incredible ability to find beauty in the most mundane of stories, to bring things to light in a new way. Once you’ve read her work your perspective shifts, you find yourself interested in things that you didn’t before.

One of the best things about Kit is her range of interests, and that she can write about all of them in so much detail. In one day she could write about a lower-level men’s race you’d never heard of, a foreign film, and the weather and all three pieces would be must reads that you’d share with your friends.

On top of that Kit brings something to the Placeholders and Pretty Serious Bike Racing podcasts that no one else can. Her depth of knowledge in the sport is wild, but she also has this ability to relate otherworldly things on a human level. No matter how complex the subject matter, her calming voice will transfix the listener for hours and by the end they would find themselves nodding in agreement.

The stories I’ve picked are a sampling of Kit’s works from this year, but they barely cover all that she offers. I would highly recommend also listening to her on the podcasts, starting with the year-end quiz special – made by none other than Jonny Long – where Kit demonstrates just how knowledgable she is. Her peak podcasting ability was on display for the Unchained Binge podcast where we discussed the Netflix series dedicated to the 2022 Tour de France. In one of those episodes Kit, an avowed film aficionado whose knowledge of cinema is equally impressive – flawlessly relates main characters from the Tour to the fellowship from Lord of the Rings. It was a 2023 highlight for me personally.

A seamless blend of cycling and cinema

Easily one of the best pieces on Escape Collective this year, Kit’s “Escape to the movies” piece combined two of her passions; film and cycling. In it she highlighted a host of films that are either loosely bike related or heavily bike related. The list includes such classics as The Triplets of Belleville, American Flyers, and the Italian film Bicycle Thieves. Hopefully a sequel piece is coming soon.

This story, in a nutshell, is Escape. It’s an in-depth analysis of cycling films from a knowledgable source that is both informative and fun.

Read “Escape to the movies” here.

A cultural masterpiece in pictures

As the weekend editor Kit is known to compile a gallery or two, especially around the cyclocross season when pictures are worth a thousand + words, but possibly one of the best galleries she put together this year was actually from the UK Hill Climb Championships. To call it a gallery detracts from the heartfelt introduction where Kit puts you on the ground of the Struggle (the climb in question) and sets the scene before diving into some pretty striking images.

Dive into “Pain faces, made tech, and ‘pea soup’ on The Struggle” here.

Remco Evenepoel is proving himself to the man in the mirror

Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) after the finish of stage 13 of the 2023 Vuelta a España. Photo: © Cor Vos

Following the 14th stage of the Vuelta a España Kit wrote an incredibly touching piece that would convert even the most cynical Remco Evenepoel hater. She starts the piece by relating to every sporting fan ever.

“Why do we put ourselves through following sport?

This is something I have asked myself quite often over the years.”

She then makes an argument as to why the reader should give Evenepoel a chance based on 72 hours at the Vuelta a España, spanning from when he lost all hope of winning red jersey on stage 13 to his comeback to take victory at the end of stage 14 (albeit with the overall lead well out of reach).

By the end you will be asking yourself why you’ve not been a fan of the Belgian rider all along.

Find “The end is where we start from” here.

The best local-knowledge race preview you’ll ever read

Kit’s preview of the 2023 Glasgow World Championships road race was something only Escape could have cooked up. She got the members involved, which was a brilliant idea. Together the group of them, with Kit at the helm, cooked up an almost-too-detailed preview of the road races and time trials in Scotland, from the lead-in to the circuits all the way through the city of Glasgow. She even included a bit of film knowledge in the preview, as she does.

The main reason I include this is because of the general concept of the piece. Kit, who lives very close to where the men’s road race started in Edinburgh, was the closest source (literally) to gather information on the races. Knowing things like the fact a traffic island set in one section of the Glasgow circuit had been removed is something you can’t source from Google Maps. The idea to dive into the nitty gritty details, and to utilize one of the greatest resources at Escape‘s disposal (the members) was * chefs kiss *.

Read the very “In the know World Champs preview” here.

Brains, brawn, and a healthy dose of luck

As the Weekend Editor, Kit has a front-row seat to some of the best moments of the season, especially in the Spring. She is the first to watch and formulate a strategy for how we cover each of the weekend races.

Her “stage by stage” breakdown of this years Paris-Roubaix Femmes avec Zwift included lines like: “Paris-Roubaix was in the balance. Two possibilities lay open to the race: a late catch and a thriller of a sprint; or an underdog victory from the day’s breakaway. With everything that had already happened, either outcome would be an apt finale.”

The whole piece included GIFs so you really felt like you were following the action, but it’s Kit’s attention to detail that really make the piece worth a re-read.

Read “The triumph of an underdog” here.

There’s nothing like the anticipation of a Monument

As the Classics season wrapped up, just before Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Kit wrote a beautiful piece about the changing of the seasons, the metaphorical slowing down of cycling, in between the spring chaos and the summer stage races. In it she details the stillness that comes before the final spring Classic of the season, before everyone in the cycling world from riders to journalists to fans find themselves a bit at a loss on the weekends.

In the finale Kit sums things up in a way that pulls on the emotions and aptly stokes anticipation for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the final Monument of spring.

“Tomorrow we will be grateful for the peace of today. The electrifying, even caustic hope that builds out of hour upon hour of pace-setting before the punchy finale, those last 30-40 kilometres before X takes victory (where X = Pogačar/Vollering). The build-up starts now. And then it’s the first of three slightly weird, time-bending, discombobulating interludes between racing ‘campaigns’ before the Giro d’Italia. And then summer.”

Read “Reflective stillness on the eve of a Monument” here.

finally…The French are the best losers

If there’s one thing universally true about Kit’s pieces it’s the emotion that she is willing and able to tap into that then takes a story above and beyond expectation. At the end of the Tour de France Kit wrote a story about the French, who had again finished their home Grand Tour with less than optimal results. In it she wrote about how, year after year, French hopefuls have walked away from the Tour in defeat, but highlighted the “cult of defeat” that has become French cycling.

It’s a piece that pulls on every heartstring and leaves you in awe of her storytelling ability and raw passion for cycling

Read “The French and their passion for defeat” here.

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