Friday, September 21, 2018

Back on (the) Track

Hello beautiful people!

I have been pretty neglectful of my blog lately... so here will be my attempt to do a short recap of my year since my last blog after my crash in Copenhagen. For those of you who have read my other blogs you'll notice I'm not great at condensing content so this will be today's challenge to not write a novel (also to not use a million exclamation points... that one might be a bit far fetched)!

So the last chapter ended with me in the recovery process from my broken face and prepping for my first block of road racing in California. All in all, Chico and San Dimas Stage Races went much better than I would of guessed, especially considering my February endurance block kind of fell off the track (no pun intended). Following California, I hopped on a plane back to Quebec to meet my new Macogep-Argon18-Girondins p/p Mazda teammates. Do the whole team photoshoot, sponsor dinner, become instant friends and some serious bonding on a 26hr drive down to Arkansas for the Joe Martin Stage Race. A neat part of this team is that most of my teammates and staff were all francophones and, as I had graduated from High School last year bilingual in French and English, this was such a good opportunity to brush up on my french even more (apparently my french is "charming"... hmmm haha).


New team, forever friends <3

Road trippinggg


Anyways, 2 days before the Joe Martin Stage Race started, I had a bad crash in training. Destroyed my helmet, briefly lost consciousness, some road rash and unfortunately started showing signs of a minor concussion :( I started the road race for the team but had made the choice to pull out after the neutral (one of the hardest things I've ever done!) and not push my health this early in the season. Another week of rest, ice cream, chilling in the Oxynova tube (an oxygen style tent) and cheering my teammates on until I was home and cleared for a concussion by my doctor. Back to the grind!


Back to post-crash recovery...


Then I was on the road again! California for Redlands Stage Race (guest riding with TaG), 2 weeks in France with Macogep (including 2 muddy, gravely, hard, EPIC! UCI races). Finally it was time for me to get back on the track. After France, I parted ways with my teammates and boarded a plane to Russia. Unfortunately there were crazy storms, delayed flights, and I missed my connecting flight through Paris. Spent most of the night in the airport, slept for 2hrs in a sketchy hotel, and caught my flight to Moscow the next morning (a day before the GP of Moscow UCI C1 track race was supposed to start). None of my luggage nor my bike made it to Moscow. Frustrated, exhausted and overwhelmed from searching for my ride among crazy (potentially not legit) taxi drivers, I finally found the race shuttle and ended up falling asleep on the way to the track (oops... probably not the wisest thing I've done).


Redlands... ouch, ouch, ouch then a crit!!! (still ouch, but more fun ;)

France!! Fondo-style ride for the sponsors :)


Anyways, I made it to the hotel and there was my dad waiting for me with my track bikes, track shoes and an extra skinsuit I'd sent with him... I may or may not have broken down in tears. The racing progressively got better as I worked through some mental stuff, got used to my brand new Naked Bike "Elle Piranha", raced in huge fields of 35 riders on the 333m speedy Moscow track, and got to rock a Lithuanian skinsuit in the Madison with Olivija Baleisyte! Oh, I also lost my brand new phone (luckily found by a police officer), never got my missing road bike from my flight (finally found and sent home 2 weeks later) and made some amazing Belgian and Danish friends who lent me rollers and their helmets (forever grateful, you guys rock! <3). A 4 day crazy adventure in beautiful Moscow, then it was on to the next one!


Where's Waldo ;) First track race back... check out the number of riders in this Elimination!


This expression sums up pretty well how the week went :')


Throwback to that time in Russia when I got to be Lithuanian with Olivija Baleisyte :D


The first weekend of UCI racing at the track in magical little T-Town, Pennsylvania was next on the menu (hands down coming back for the whole month of June next year!). I crushed a 4th place finish in the women's C1 Omnium, then got to go home for a 10 day prep for Road Nationals with the added benefit of enjoying the sun (yes, we do get sun in #Raincouver), family and friends. A nice little reset before another intense block of racing.


A little break at home to see family, friends, and of course the most important one of all- Elmo!!

Road Nationals in Quebec gave me a solid confidence boost of my form. I finished 5th in U23 in the road race and worked my butt off in the crit (side note- I LOVE crits!!) but heartbreakingly was lapped by the solo breakaway with under 2 laps to go (there were only 11 of us left in the race at that point out of 54 starters!).


Crit fun... so close, yet so far!


Back to T-Town for the last UCI race of the month! And in my 2018 fashion, I finished with yet another 4th place in the Omnium (grrr!!) but to make it all better, won the first ever Women's Madison Cup holding hands with the Amazing Colleen Gulick! Honoured to be the first women's names on the trophy and as always, thank you T-Town for another great time!


Some Madison Flying lap fun with Colleen Gulick

Winners, winners, chicken dinners ;)

Almost caught up... BC Superweek time and some of my top results to date (not to mention a solid payweek!). Restored my #PrimeQueen status with winning the crowd prime at Ladner, 5th in the historic Global Relay Gastown GrandPrix (unfortunately got stuck in an elevator with 18 people for an hour on my way to get the prize money afterwards... was probably sweatier than during the race!). Then came my podium streak- 2nd at the Giro di Burnaby, 3rd at PoCo GP and 3rd at Tour de White Rock (hardest I've pushed myself to date- gloriously came across the line, puked all over myself and my bike then had to go straight to the podium. Definitely one of my finer moments ;).


"BC Superweek... one of my favourite race weeks EVER!!"

Some podium fun :D

Surprise! A quick last minute trip to Italy with Laurie Jussaume and my dad as coach/soigneur/mechanic for 6 days, 4 of them being track race days. Of course, got my classic 4th place in the Points Race, barely made the start of the Omnium (they changed the time without telling anyone) and fought jetlag with the help of the fantastic Italian espresso. And thank gosh I had Laurie with me, practically fluent in every language, always knows what people are saying ;)


Another adventure with "Elle Piranha"

How could I ever travel the world without this one <3 (Laurie)


Hard, fast Italian track racing

Last paragraph, I promise! Home for a whole week just in time to join my family and friends for an "active rest week" on Hornby Island which included, but was not limited to: extended beach time, mountain biking, pizza, camping and intense rounds of Speed. A day at home to re-pack my bags, then the next 3 weeks spent living it up (so mostly riding and sleeping ;)) in Milton, Ontario at track camp with my Team Pursuit squad, prepping for Pan Am Track Champs in Aguascalientes, Mexico.


Rest week done right

A... mountain bike??

TP Squad <3

Ok, I lied. One more paragraph... I fell in love with Aguascalientes! My first time in Mexico and the historic town, tacos, people and ultra fast track did not disappoint! We came away with a bronze medal in the TP after executing a flawless second ride (#beautifulMyLaps) and I got... wait for it... ANOTHER 4th in the Points Race! -_- I also got to channel my inner sprinter in the 500m TT. And do this all while fighting a flu keeping me up with fevers most of the night! Fun times.


BRONZE!!!

We're all caught up! I am home right now, training for Track Nationals taking place in Milton next week and focusing on some self/mental care. I've started working with a psychologist to help some left over trauma from my Copenhagen crash and also re-visiting my school courses. Balancing school, recovery, and racing this year (along with travelling with 50lbs of textbooks) just wasn't working for me and causing unnecessary stress. I have withdrawn from my online Calculus and Physics courses and will re-visit school again in the future. In the meantime, as something that will (literally!) bring more balance into my life and help me at home and on the road, I am planing on starting my Yoga Teacher Training in the New Year! I have realised this is all a process, I need to prioritise and more than ever, want to dedicate everything to being the best bike racer I can be!


Finding balance :)

That's it for now- thanks for reading (or just looking at the pictures ;) if you made it this far! Much love to everyone who has supported me this year to make it an unforgettable one so far- thank you Macogep-Argon18-Girondins p/p Mazda, TaG Cycling Race Team, Naked Bicycles, Vision, FSA, ISM, Specialized Canada, Polar, Ryders Eyewear, Astra Athletica, PacficSport Fraser Valley, Cycling Canada, Global Relay Bridge the Gap, Power2Max, Born Sportscare, theblackline.ca and of course my incredibly supportive family, dad/coach and friends, both new and old! <3

-Maggie xx

Sunday, February 25, 2018

January European Track Adventure

I can't believe it's already almost March! The past two months have blown by, but everyday has been so full and impactful that I could probably relate every single event of every single one of the past 51 days from memory.

My last blog post ended with me sitting in the small air bnb in beautiful Gent, Belgium, just days out of competition. By the end of that week, I had resurrected my jump and bunch racing legs and was race ready!

The first day of the Belgian International TrackMeeting consisted of a Points Race, where I rode a safe race, but needed to have more confidence in my abilities and trust that I had great form to do better than the 9th place I ended up with.




That night we put together a last minute Madison pairing of Chiara Consonni (ITA) and I and we dove right into the race with our first ever exchange being on lap 2. Probably one of the sketchiest Madisons I've ever done but we got through it, not missing an exchange and finishing on the same lap as the main bunch after hanging onto the wheels of Madison 2017 World Champions Jolien D'Hoore and Lotte Kopecky (BEL).


Chiara Consonni and I taking on the Madison :)



The following day brought with it the Omnium and over 30 women signed up so therefore two qualifying heats beforehand. A hard battle, but every race I increasingly felt better and better. I went into the final Points Race sitting in 9th place, played my usual game of going for early points then took a lap with two other riders! Probably the longest take-a-lap in history, but I finished the Omnium in 4th overall! I am very proud of how I rode and the success I found in my second ever new-format Omnium and first ever elite women's UCI Omnium.




Had a couple of days to explore more of Gent and take my dad for a ride out to the Flanders region where I lived last year and up some of  the famous Tour of Flanders cobbled climbs. He would like to note that he took on Paterberg "Boonen-like"! :')


Climbing Paterberg (famous Belgian cobbled climb) with my dad :)

Another day, another flight and this time to Denmark for the Copenhagen Six Day! This was the second Scandinavian country I have been to and it is hard not to fall in love with these places! Athletic, healthy lifestyles, some of the nicest people you'll ever meet and awesome (expensive!) coffee and pastries; what more could you ask for :D

I raced the Copenhagen Six Day (actually only 3 days for the women) VRS Women's Cup flying the TaG Cycling Race Team colours and partnered with fellow Canadian Allison Beveridge. 9 races over the 3 days, and it was a battle between us and the other Canadian team (Jasmin Duehring and Steph Roorda) for the overall win. Now I had seen videos of these Six Day races beforehand, but actually being there and experiencing the party atmosphere- crazy music, disco lights, big, electrifying crowds, midnight races- was unlike anything I had ever imagined!




Warming up for a 12:20am race in a Velodrome full of music and disco lights!

It came down to the final 12 lap Scratch Race, us tied with the other Canadians for 1st and the pressure on to cross the line first! The last thing I remember is seeing 2 laps to go on the lap board, and following the rush of riders over the top. The rest has been filled in for me since, but with under 1 lap to go, I mysteriously crashed and was hit by the rider behind me and knocked unconscious. I was out for about 3-5 minutes, and worked on for another 40 minutes at trackside by the amazing medical team. I remember bits and pieces, like opening my eyes and seeing my dad and soigneur standing over me and me having no idea how I ended up on the ground, unable to move. Then correctly answering questions in the ambulance, then more of nothing, then making my nurse poke my nose ring back through my nose so the hole wouldn't close and infect haha! I suffered 3 breaks, air bubbles and internal bleeding in my cheek, some fractured ribs, a pneumothorax (small tear in my lung), a slightly collapsed lung, possibly a mild to severe concussion and a bunch of road rash. Because of my lung, they told me I wouldn't be able to fly home for 2 weeks to a month. Soo I spent the next 9 days sleeping around 15 hours a day, then exploring Copenhagen with my dad; not the worst country to be stuck in! On February 12th, my 19th birthday, I went back for x-rays and got the birthday present of being cleared to fly home!



 


Since being home, recovery has gone remarkably fast! I was cleared for a concussion last week and now slowly starting to train again, just a little sore in my broken face and ribs. In two weeks, I go to California for a road block, and in 3 weeks I have my first road race of the year, Chico Stage Race. I think I can partly attribute my fast recovery to my positive attitude; those who know me will know I'm usually a pretty positive, happy person but I have even surprised myself with just how positive and content I have been. Probably watching other top athletes come back from injury even stronger and knowing that this was only a very small setback in my exciting year to come, helped me stay in that frame of mind. Oh, and hey even with the crash we still won the overall Six Day! (my first question after regaining consciousness :).


Milkshake=happiness=recover faster, right?!

I would just like to say a HUGE thank you to all of the INCREDIBLE track and hospital medical staff for taking such great care of me as well as the race organizers for an awesome event and support! Also thank you so much to everyone who supported my track block in Europe, especially TaG Cycling Race Team, my team Macogep-Argon18-Girondins p/b Mazda, Cycling Canada, Vision Wheels, FSA, Ryders Eyewear, theblackline, Born Sportscare and ISM Seat. Lastly, I can't even express how grateful I am for all of the love and support I have received from friends and family not only while I was racing, but especially after my crash and in my search to replace my broken bike! Onwards and upwards :)

-Maggie <3


The amazing trackside medical team :)


And track doctor :) Thank you so much for everything!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Happy New Year Part 2

...contiuned

I spent the last couple weeks of September in Belgium training with another Canadian junior, Michael Foley, who went to Track Worlds and was going to Road Worlds as well and his coach, Canadian cycling hero Steve Bauer! Michael and I then country hopped up to Bergen, Norway to join team Canada. First of all, let me express how freaking beautiful Norway is! A beautiful country, very similar to the West Coast of Canada (except, believe it or not, wetter!) with an adoration for my least favourite food, salmon. In fact, the World Championship numbers even had a picture of cooked salmon on them! Maybe that was the start of my unlucky World Champs road race...


So much fun training with the one and only Michael Foley in Belgium :D




Erin Attwell and I exploring expensive, elaborate fur stores post race!

Race day was a little hectic with one of us 4 junior girls crashing on the way over to sign on, us all getting split up, getting minimal warm up and of course, being Canadian, a back row call up. As soon as that whistle blew, I knew my body was going to hate the day. I am still not sure if it was something I ate that morning, or simply nerves, but every time I went to push myself I was extremely nauseated with a gag reflex. Not to mention still recovering from my Track Worlds crashes. That made for a fun time up the 1500m Salmon Hill. Thank goodness for my fearless descending skills so I could chase back on almost every time except with 2 laps to go. I then ended up back in a chase group, got squeezed out by another rider, hit the curb and went down with about 7km to go. I bitterly dragged myself and my beat up bike across the line, except despite everything, couldn't help but smile a little on my last solo effort up Salmon Hill when the Norwegian fans started chanting "Go Canada Go!".


The amazing Norwegian fans who made us feel like superstars!

Just... finish... this... damn... race!

And well, after Norway I sent my bikes home with my dad and flew to Rome, Italy to meet my Aunt and Uncle for my grad present of a 10 day vacay in the sun. Pools, shopping, the Amalfi Coast, the Colosseum... perfect way to end the season and my first big European adventures!

Soaking up some rays and the beautiful Amalfi Coast



However, surprise! I had 9 well spent days at home, then back to Milton for a prep camp for my first Elite Track World Cup in Warsaw, Poland. I went with the elite National Team as the alternate for Team Pursuit and the Points Race rider. I ended up just riding the Points Race, which was a super eye opening experience. The field consisted of 6 World Champions of different disciplines and I was very proud by the fact that tactically, I could race with them and belonged there, just physically I wasn't quite strong enough to come around the likes of Kirsten Wild and Amalie Diderikson. I ended up 5th in about 3 sprints, so just shy of points! The whole experience of the World Cup circuit was incredible though, being at the buffet and stretching in the gym with World Champions and Olympians was so inspiring and I definitely fan girled quite a bit. I also ended up making quite a few friends as I made it my mission to talk to as many cyclists from other countries as possible!


#squadgoals or maybe #quadgoals? Our usual Springridge rest day spin in Milton :)

Racing against 6 Elite World Champions

Anddd finally some time spent at home, about a month and a half. After a couple of weeks off the bike, spent running, going to the gym and yoga and riding my horses, I fell back into my usual daily training routine. I started working on some online University courses towards my Bachelor of Science, major in Biological Science degree and decided to wreck myself all at once and kick off the University life with Physics and Calculus! This downtime was much needed as well to physically get my body back to a healthy place, re-energize, address my calorie deficiency, etc. I also started coaching spin classes at one of my biggest supporters, TaG Cycling. And let me tell you, it's SO MUCH FUN!! I never realized how much I love yelling motivational things at people and making them suffer on the bike while putting together rad music playlists! 


My best bud, Elmo <3
...and a little cross for fun :)


And my Quartet all home from University for the winter break!!

Gym gainzzzz

That brings us right into the New Year and wasting no time I was on a January 2nd flight back to Milton for a pre-camp for the final Track World Cup in Minsk, Belarus. This was an insanely fun experience, as they sent the Next-Gen/development National Team and 4 out of the 5 of us had ridden team pursuit together at the 2016 Junior Track World Championships. We're a very close team, and kitchen dance parties or horror movie marathons are not uncommon. I rode Team Pursuit, Points Race and Madison at the World Cup, and our Team Pursuit had 3 flawless rides, new personal bests and we ended up with the bronze medal around our necks behind USA and Italy! Not bad for our first World Cup/race together!

Team Pursusit Bronze

Love these girls soooo much <3




And now (if you have made it this far!) you are completely caught up to where I sit right this moment, in a tiny Air bnb in downtown Gent, Belgium ready to race the Belgian International Trackmeeting starting on Saturday, flying the TaG colours and with my dad as support. Next week, I hop on another little flight up to Copenhagen, Denmark for the Copenhagen Six Day (the women's cup is actually only three days) to conclude my first little Europe block of 2018 before heading home.



It's been an amazing start to the year, and it's only going to get bigger and better as I take on my first year as an elite, riding for the Quebec based women's team, Macogep-Argon18-Girondins p/b Mazda which will allow me to race major North American races as well as a couple of blocks in Europe. On the track side of my year, I have set up an Omnium 2020 Project, where I will be targeting major UCI track races to gain valuable race experience and UCI points.

I would like to say thank you to the whole Lares-Waowdeals family for housing and supporting me over in Europe last year! 





Also, a big thank you to everyone who showed me so much love and support last year as I hit some pretty big milestones in my junior cycling career! Here's to more great things to come :)





I would like to welcome FullSpeedAhead and Vision Wheels on board for this year as well as thank you to TaG Cycling Race Team, BORN Sportscare, Ryders Eyewear, Power2Max, theblackline, ISM Seat, Orange Sport Supply, Cycles Lambert, Obsession Bikes, Evoc, Global Relay #bridgethegap and Cycling Canada for the ongoing support!

<3
Maggie