Podcast: From trauma to triumph – The story of Felipe Nystrom

Posted by on December 2nd, 2021 at 6:54 am

In this episode, we hear the story of Portlander and Costa Rican National Champion Felipe Nystrom. But before we get to the interview, I want to share a content warning: This episode includes mentions of physical and sexual abuse, suicide, and descriptions of excessive drug and alcohol use.

I first heard about Felipe’s story in fall of 2019 and we actually got together for our first interview in July of that year. For various reasons, I was never able to share the story on BikePortland and it’s been nagging at me ever since, so I’m very excited to finally bring it to you. I’m also grateful that Felipe trusted me with details about his childhood he’s never shared publicly before.

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Felipe in his Costa Rican national team kit at a race in Portland in October.
(Photo: Mark Boling / @VeganIdiot on IG)

Felipe Nystrom in the BikePortland studio on November 30th.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“I think everything that I’ve been through, I’ve been training without knowing it. And that’s kind of the positive spin I try to put on it. You have to decide whether you want to keep dwelling on all of these things… Yeah it’s in the past, but it was rough. You know, a two year old shouldn’t have these things happening to them. And so I have had to find a way to just shut it down and focus on something else. And it’s the same with cycling. When I’m out there and I want to give up? It’s like ‘No man, are you gonna’ call your son and told him you gave up?'”

(On the Costa Rican National Championship podium in 2019, then volunteering at a local race a few weeks after he got home. Photo credits: Felipe Nystrom, Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Some of you might know Felipe as an elite competitor on the regional racing circuit who’s had a meteoric rise through the ranks — in just a few seasons he went from beginner in 2015, to Costa Rican National Champion in 2019 and a World Cup competitor this year. But his cycling success is just a tiny part of his life story. The first 30 years of his life were a struggle for survival. Before he went into rehab and ultimately moved to Portland in 2013, Felipe was hopeless and homeless, living on the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica after after a life filled with traumatic experiences and after several attempts to commit suicide.

Suffice it to say, Felipe’s life has gone through a remarkable transformation and I think you’ll appreciate his powerful story.

Don’t forget to follow his journey on Instagram and consider donating to his World Cup fundraising campaign over on GoFundMe.

Our podcast is a production of Pedaltown Media Inc., and is made possible by listeners like you. If you’re not a subscriber yet, please become one today at bikeportland.org/support. You can listen to more episodes and find out how to subscribe at bikeportland.org/podcast.

Our theme music is by Kevin Hartnell.

Full interview transcript below (generated by a robot, so please excuse any errors):
Felipe Nystrom Interview Transcript

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bArbaroo

Jonathan, you have a wonderful interview style. Thank you for sharing Felipe’s story.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

What a powerful interview and life experience. Thanks Johnathan for putting this on the podcast and to Felipe for sharing!