As an original founding member of Outdoor Nation, Nitish Nag is no newbie to the outdoors, but what I learned from talking with him is that he knows how to keep things fresh and exciting, always striving to reach new goals and starting initiatives to keep people healthy and get them outside!
AH: How long have you been on the ON leadership team, how did you become a member of Outdoor Nation?
NN: As an Outdoor Idol award recipient in 2007, I have been a part of the Outdoor Industry Association's youth movement over the past 5 years. Outdoor Nation was formally launched in 2009, and I have been part of the core youth leadership ever since. It has been amazing to see the whole movement evolve and refine over time.
AH: What is your favorite thing about being on the ON leadership team?
NN: The best part about being on the leadership team is having the capability to empower other youth to really step forward and make social change. That feeling of empowering others is unmatched by any accomplishment I have ever achieved to date. Okay, not going to lie, travelling all over the nation to do this is pretty sweet too.
AH: I hear you're pretty involved in off-road cycling, tell us a little bit about how you got into that, and how you've been involved in the sport since. Any major accomplishments you'd like to tell us about?
NN: I started riding my kiddy bike on trails by sneaking out of the house when I was 10 years old. Mom wasn't too happy about that! After much convincing, my father took me to a bike race for the first time when I was 12. I got absolutely DEMOLISHED. It was the hardest thing I had ever done by leaps and bounds. Soon bike racing went from being a hobby, to a full time gig. I was recruited to the University of California at Berkeley as an athlete when I was a senior in high school. I turned pro when I was 19, and the person who I surprised the most was myself! I was ranked 2nd in the WCCC Conference in both 2008 and 2010 while also winning several races, and finished ranked 4th at USAC Collegiate Nationals in 2010. But the biggest accomplishment that mountain biking has offered me is the lifestyle. Living a healthy and fun lifestyle while exploring my limits is really why I wake up with so much enthusiasm every morning.
AH: So, the rumor is you're kind of a science geek...you studied Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry AND Nutrition Metabolism AND Integrative Biology AND Philosophy at UC-Berkeley. Are you doing anything with those majors right now, or do you plan to in the future?
NN: I'm going to go ahead and confirm the rumors out there. Yes, I am a total nerd! I am graduating from Cal at the end of this year (2011) and will spend my time over the next couple years racing mountain bikes on the pro circuit, while also leading a bunch of climbing, backpacking and other outdoor expeditions. Ultimately studying these subjects in school allows me to work on problems from two sides. One is the athletic performance side where we are trying to see the limits of human perfection. On the other hand I study these subjects to see how we can better understand and treat disease for those that are not able to perform optimally. As an athlete I can both understand the theory and the application of these sciences. As a scientist who works in these fields, I enjoy seeing brilliant ideas in the lab applied to everyday life scenarios, such as for an athlete or for someone with diabetes. I plan on going to do an MD/PhD in metabolism research so that we can apply the whole idea of a healthy, active lifestyle at a global scale.
AH: What do you do when you're not cycling or working on ON stuff?
NN: Rock climbing has really become a passion of mine over the past few years and so any time I spend off the bike is usually climbing. I founded the UC Berkeley Climbing Team recently, and that has been super successful, especially working with some highly gifted and motivated climbers here at Cal. I also am a professional coach for endurance athletes for the Whole Athlete coaching company, and lead backpacking trips in my off-season from racing. I also do research here at Cal in the nutrition department studying the molecular mechanisms of aging, which was part of my honors thesis.
AH: Rapid fire...Top five outdoor travel destinations.
NN: Lake Tahoe, CA
Yosemite & Bishop, CA: Sahh-weeet Climbing!
AH: Most memorable outdoor experience?
NN: My most memorable experiences are usually the ones that just happened. Recently I just came back from MTB Collegiate Nationals in Angel Fire, New Mexico where we raced in 10 inches of fresh snow. It was ridiculous!