89. Team GB’s Mel Nicholls; Endurance Wheelchair Racing, London and Rio, Breaking Records and Travel Logistics - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode Array
March 3 , 2020

89. Team GB’s Mel Nicholls; Endurance Wheelchair Racing, London and Rio, Breaking Records and Travel Logistics

Just 15 months after taking up wheelchair racing Mel Nicholls Team GB Paralympic cyclist, endurance wheelchair racer and adventurer, was at London 2012 before going on to Rio. Last year she nailed the London Marathon in under two hours and also broke the world record for hand cycling the whole length of Britain. She’s battled strokes, heart surgery, extreme weather and plenty of bad wheelchair access in airports to travel the world finding the adventure in absolutely everything.


The London Premiere  of “Dream Big” the film documenting Mel’s hand-cycling world record will be screening at Four Seasons Film Festival at The Charlotte Street Hotel on Monday 16th March. Tickets available via www.fourseasonsfilmfestival.com/tickets



On this episode we cover:


Her film “Dream Big” and the London Premiere Four Seasons Film Festival

Her Guinness World Record Breaking hand cycle of the length of Britain

Being in tears at the start line at Land’s End

Covering just under 900 miles

Travelling with impaired mobility

Being left unable to walk following her third stroke in 2008

Almost getting arrested for dangerous cycling

Being very vulnerable lying flat on a bike

How the feeling of being on a journey is fantastic

Finding nature everywhere

How being in a car is boxed off in comparison

Smashing the male and female record by 4 days

Having three major strokes

Finding a heart defect was causing the strokes

Having to learn to walk again, without the use of her left leg

Watching the Beijing Paralympics from her hospital bed

First thinking wheelchair racing as alternative to nightly jogs

Team GB London 2012 – just 15 months after taking up wheelchair racing

How London 2012 changed the face of Paralympics

How talking about the brilliant London 2012 makes both Lisa and Mel shiver

Lisa being there for the last night of Paralympics

Lisa interviewing Oscar Pistorius

The Museum of London having the tulip torches – do go see this!

Learning how to train for the four year Olympic cycle

Going to Rio 2016 but things not going to plan

Charlie Webster on The Big Travel Podcast talking about dying of Malaria in Rio (and being brought back to life) making Lisa cry on the podcast (don’t miss this either!)

Watching the Marathon from Copacabana beach

Being ‘a wilderness person’

Hand cycling the Scottish islands finding mountains and caves completely

The scary and exhilarating challenge of cycling the Faroe Islands (lots of tunnels, not always roads)

Her cycling light exploding several hundred metres underground

How the environment can disable people

Taxis driving past, as they don’t want to pick up wheelchairs!

The logistics of travelling with a wheelchair, hand bike or crutches

The nightmare of the airport at New York

How airport and aeroplane access is terrible for disabled people

Having to bum-shuffle down the plane aisle to go to the loo

Stunning views from the New York Marathon

London being her favourite city in the world

How the marathon showcases London brilliantly

Finding New York and Central Park excellent for getting around

Sevilla being wonderful for a marathon

Leaving the British team to pursue her challenges

Being the 2019 first British female wheelchair racer at London Marathon

Some dark moments when she first lost her mobility

Having a great life before her strokes, but having a great life now

Finding a way of making things happen

Documenting and sharing her travels on social media and film

The beauty of cycling through from the UK to the South of France

Knocking on random French doors to find somewhere to stay

Following in the tradition of great old-school travellers – Hemingway, Van Gogh.

Staying in a stunning moated-castle in the Loire Valley

The playlist that kept her going throughout her world-breaking hand-cycling challenge