Nici Walde: The Record Chaser | Media OPEL International

Nici Walde: The Record Chaser


  • Ambitious goals: Sights set on 24-hour velomobile world record
  • “Looking for a woman for 24 hours“: From sports to private love story
  • Multi-talented: Professional musician, extreme athlete and writer


Rüsselsheim.  How in the world do you set a world record in the velomobile? Just ask Nicola “Nici” Walde. She's already done it, riding for 12 hours straight. Now it's time for the 24-hour world record. At least 1,219 kilometres, which she wants to master purely with her own physical strength, lie ahead of the petite extreme athlete. But how did she get involved with this extraordinary sport? A quick look back...

From "catastrophe kid" to professional musician to extreme athlete

“I am sort of a ‘catastrophe kid’,” says Nici Walde with a laugh. “Unplanned, born on the outskirts of Hamburg during a storm on one of those green weekends in December 1973 with a car-free Sunday.” You would think she was born with the bicycle gene, but it would take her a while to discover her love of cycling.

Raised in Hamburg, she graduated from high school in 1993 and subsequently embarked on a musical career that went hand in hand with several relocations. To study music, Nici Walde first moved to Berlin and then to Munich. She has been a professional bassoonist since 1999 and has been engaged at the State Opera House, Augsburg Theatre, Munich Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonie der Nationen, among others. She toured with Konstantin Wecker and the Mozart Band until she formed her own rock band. And since 2004 she has been an indispensable member of the Bavarian Police Orchestra.

In the meantime she had moved to Weil in Upper Bavaria, where she had an approximately 60 kilometre commute to Munich. This is where the racing bike came into play. Nici had already discovered her enthusiasm for covering long distances in her youth – initially without a bike. Five-kilometre runs, ten-kilometre runs – she won the team medal in the ten-kilometre road race at the German Championships – and triathlon experience in the regional league were not enough for the 1.51-metre tall athlete. Since the commute was too long to walk, she changed to a racing bike without further ado, even though she admits, “I like to push myself to my limits, but I just as much like lying in the sun or sitting in a café”.

But her ambition drove her. She joined a colleague who also rode a racing bike and regularly conquered her 120-kilometre round-trip commute. But when he got a faster recumbent bike with full fairing, the question was: Where to go from here?

“Looking for a woman for 24-hour world record”: From sports to love story

Giving up was not an option for Nici Walde. Then coincidence – and luck – came into the picture. In 2015, Daniel Fenn, a Bavarian velomobile developer, was looking for a woman who could set a world record for him with the velomobile he had designed and manufactured using fiberglass molding. He did this under the heading: “Looking for a woman for 24 hours”. As spontaneous as Nici Walde is, she contacted the stranger. And it wasn’t long before they went to the Lausitzring together: Walde pedaled for twelve hours at an average speed of just under 49 km/h. When she finished a good 585 kilometres later, she had set the world record. She has held the 12-hour HPV world record (Human Powered Vehicles e.V.) for women since 2015. In recent years, she has continued to set new records: in 2016, Nici set 24-hour and 1,000-kilometre world records, and in 2017 she was World Champion in a recumbent bike with full fairing for the third time. Daniel Fenn has been at her side the entire time, because the sporting success also turned into a love story.

Now it’s time for the 24-hour velomobile marathon at the Opel Test Center Rodgau-Dudenhofen. The 44-year-old athlete will tackle the existing 24-hour world record for women (1,012 kilometres) and men (1,219 kilometres) – the longest distance a person has ever covered powered purely by their own physical strength.

Everyone will certainly be able to read about this in the future, because the professional musician and extreme athlete is also a writer. She has already shared her experiences and ideas in two novels. The first was published last year under the title “Suche Frau für 24 Stunden: Weltrekord”. Her second book “Achtung; Hinterrad überholt! Ein Alpha-Krimi" will be published this year.



Axel Seegers
Manager Marken- und Motorsport-Kommunikation
Telefon: +49 6142/7-75 496
Mobil: +49 151/16 41 95 70

Elena Funk
Assistant Manager Lifestyle- und Marketing-Kommunikation
Telefon: +49 6142/7-77 147
Mobil: +49 173 771 6709