Photos by Nicky Felton
BMX athlete Daniel Franks is firmly focused on the future. Committed to representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016 – these days he spends just as much time in the gym bulking up as he is perfecting his pedal power.
The 21-year-old proudly sports 22 as his chosen competition number and shares some time with Fitness Journal to answer some questions (22 of them to be precise).
One of New Zealand’s top BMX riders (he was reserve in the 2012 Olympic team), the Cambridge-based athlete is taking part in the iconic Crankworx event in Rotorua this month, competing in the ‘Pump Track challenge’ (mini BMX track) and hopefully the ‘Whip Challenge’. Having represented New Zealand in both BMX and mountain biking, Daniel’s passion for bike power and skill is undeniable.
When he’s not busy training, Daniel enjoys relaxing behind the lens of a camera and is set to become part of the Fitness Journal team, supplying us with photos for future issues.
22 questions with “Daniel Franks 22”
What is this ‘22’? As an elite BMX rider we get to choose a number to race under for the entire duration of our career. I chose 22. The number 2 is my lucky number. 1 – 9 numbers are reserved for World Championship placings so 22 was the golden number.
How did you get into BMX? It was actually advertised through primary school (when I was five), in our weekly newsletter. I ran home to mum and dad that day and asked them if I could go. Initially they said no, but caved in after I begged them enough. I went along that day and was hooked, and as they say; the rest is history.
Did you play any other sports when growing up? I used to play rugby and soccer. I also got into mountain biking which was great fun, competing in both BMX and mountain biking to Junior NZ representation level, before making a choice between the disciplines. I chose BMX as I could chase my Olympic dream in this sport, mountain biking isn’t an Olympic sport.
What do you love about BMX? BMX gives me a sense of freedom and it’s my form of self-expression. On the BMX track there are no limitations but the ones I set for myself, and I have fun trying to push through those.
You were born in Christchurch, what made you move to Cambridge? I moved to Cambridge at the start of 2013 to further my BMX career. When I was selected as the Olympic reserve in 2012 I realised I was good enough to make a career out of BMX. In order to achieve this I needed to move to where my coach and gym trainer were based – and that happened to be Cambridge. Then I also began my tertiary studies and I’m now in the second year of my Bachelor of Media and Creative Technologies degree which I work towards part time.
What allows you to succeed in your sport? I’m lucky enough to be naturally gifted on my bike with good technical ability. The area I’m lacking is in the strength side of things. I need more power to get out the gate faster, so that’s what most of my training is based around.
What is the favorite track you’ve ridden? Copenhagen, in Denmark. It’s a really fun, smooth and flowing track.
What is your typical training regime? BMX is all about your power to weight ratio so it’s about being strong, but also being able to move it fast. A lot of our training is in the gym where we’re trying to build power and muscle, but then we’re also out on the track getting our legs moving as fast as possible.
What is your nutrition plan like? I’ve just been through a big bulking phase where I added a whole lot of muscle and fat to get my power up – I put on 15kg in three months! I’m now in a ‘cutting’ phase so it’s all about maintaining that muscle but trying to lose the fat so I’m eating healthy food with lots of protein.
Describe a typical week: 3 x track sessions, 2 x gym sessions, 2 x sprint sessions, 4 x road rides, and prognostic testing. I’ll generally also meet with my coach, physio and sports physiologist, and then I’ve got university lectures and assignments. The week can get pretty busy.
What is the biggest thing that BMX has taught you? BMX forced me to mature much faster in my younger years. I learned I had to make decisions based on my training, how I wanted to perform, and what I wanted to achieve. This often meant I was training when my friends were hanging out or partying. It’s probably made me a more sensible person. I don’t regret that at all and think it has only been beneficial.
I’ve seen some pictures of you with a crazy beard, what was that all about? I set a New Year’s resolution to grow my beard for a whole year, it was pretty impressive. At the end of the year I shaved it off and raised $1800 for my home club North Avon in Christchurch, as its track was damaged in the earthquakes.
If you were allowed a ‘cheat meal’ where would you eat? Kebabalicious in Cambridge – so good!
What’s your worst habit? Probably…farting…it’s a guy thing.
Where do you live and who with? At the moment I live in an ‘athlete flat’. The house is owned by fellow BMX team-mate Sarah Walker, her partner Finn Howard who’s part of the Men’s U23 rowing boat, and Kirstie James who’s a New Zealand track cyclist.
We’re always trying to eat healthy and are pushing ourselves to be the best we can be on a daily basis, so it’s great to be around others who are on the same wave length as you.
What are your goals with BMX? To win gold at the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, or Tokyo 2020. I also really want to win nationals, which is coming up in Christchurch in April. I’ve placed second for three years now so I’m pretty ready to take the win.
What is your proudest moment to date? Being selected as the New Zealand reserve for the London 2012 Olympics.
What do you like least about your sport? Probably because it’s an outdoor sport the wind and rain can be unpredictable. Being indoors is a much safer and consistent environment. We could train all year round if we had an indoor track.
What are your upcoming travel/training plans? I’m going overseas to train and race through Europe for four months, with hopes of making the New Zealand team for our BMX World Championships in July.
If you could give young riders advice, what would it be? The most important thing is to enjoy riding your bike, focus on riding with your friends and push yourself outside your comfort zone while still having fun.
Who are your biggest supporters? Mum and dad have been my biggest supporters right from the start. They’ve made every opportunity possible for me and have relentlessly supported and believed in me.
What is your favorite thing to do in Waikato? I love go-cart racing in Hamilton at Daytona raceway.