Friday, October 21, 2016

Junior Road World Championships 2016

On another flight home from my third World Championship this year, and bored with homework so time for a little blogging :)! In January, I competed in the U23 Cyclocross World Champs in Zolder, Belgium, then I won a bronze medal at the Junior Track World Champs in Aigle, Switzerland in July, and I am now returning from competing in the Junior Road World Champs in Doha Qatar. It's been a busy year!

"It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll!"

After receiving the confirmation that I was going to Road Worlds just over 2 weeks before I left, I quickly had to organise my next month. I was only back at school for about a week before I flew out, and have been gone for almost a month! Before heading to Qatar, the junior women squad spent 2 weeks in Belgium, training and racing. The four junior women who were selected were the same girls who went to Junior Track Worlds- Erin Attwell, Devaney Collier, Laurie Jussaume and me, of course! This made it really easy to pick up where we left off, and we already knew how to live together, so it made for a fun, smooth pre-camp. We had a solid couple of weeks of training around Canada’s base in Tielt-Winge, Belgium. The one downside of Belgium was that the temperature only reached a high of 20 degrees for a couple of days, and would drop as low as 5 degrees, which wasn’t ideal preparing for a 35+ degree race! To help simulate the heat a bit I trained in as many layers of clothing that I had and we also went and spent some time in a 50 degree sauna!

The squad: Laurie Jussaume, me, Erin Attwell, Devaney Collier

While we were in Belgium, we did 3 kermesse races (1 junior race, 2 elite women’s races). Kermesses are like high speed road races, and usually take place on a 6-10km course and can be anywhere from around 60-100km. Some of them even have prime laps, like a crit. The first one we did was the junior race, and there were around 60 junior/u17 women racing! This was the biggest junior field I had ever raced in, and was by far the most aggressive race I had ever done! The girls over in Europe were absolutely ruthless, and there would be lots of bumping and pushing to maintain your place at the front of the race, as well as you had to watch that you weren’t pushed into a ditch or the cracks in the road! We averaged about 38km/h and there were prime laps every second lap. I won 2 primes, and managed to stay top 10 for the whole race, until I lost positioning at the end. I ended up 13th in the final sprint, and had so much fun that I could not wait to race again the following day! The next day, we had to get special permission to race the elite women’s race, because juniors aren’t allowed to race on school days in Belgium. This race wasn’t quite as aggressive as the junior race, and I managed to stay in good positioning, but cramped up towards the end of the race, so didn’t have a great sprint. The next weekend, we did our last elite women’s kermesse and experienced every single kind of weather that day. Started with sun, then it started raining, accompanied by a thunder and lightning storm, with hail and wind. The road started flooding at one point and I could barely see anything! However, the rain just reminded me of home, so I raced even harder. For most of the race, there was a break up the road and I was active on the front trying to chase it down and going with breaks. At the line we were only about 200m off of the break but didn’t quite catch them in time! I was very proud of how I raced this race, and even better, I didn’t cramp up! Bad cramping in my legs has been something I have been suffering with this road season and have been trying many different solutions, such as more electrolytes, drinking enough water, extra potassium and magnesium and adding salt to my food to try and resolve the cramping before Doha.

Front line start of the 2nd kermesse :)

On October 7th we hopped on another flight over to Doha, Qatar. Devaney and I were only racing the road race so we had a full week to acclimatise as best as we could to the extreme heat. I had never experienced heat over 35 degrees Celsius before, so it was a bit of a shock when some of our training days hit highs of around 43 degrees Celsius! I was drinking around 6 bottles for a 2hr ride to stay hydrated! The situation was perfect though- we would wake up, go eat at a buffet that literally had everything (it was really hard to ignore all of the pancakes and pastries, although I managed to avoid them until after the race!), then after breakfast we would go ride (usually the juniors and elite riders would ride together, which gave us a great opportunity to get as much advice from the elites as possible!). After the ride, we had a buffet lunch, spent time at the pool, had a massage, then a buffet dinner! We were living the life! It was perfect. Going into the race, I was the most relaxed that I had ever been!

Swallowed by The Oyster
Photo-op on a recovery ride in Doha :)

The night before race day, we had a junior conference where I got to hear Eddy and Axel Mercx talk, along with the head of road UCI. My evening was then perfect, because I got to meet and take selfies with pro-riders Tiffany Cromwell, Elia Viviani and Marcel Kittel (who even liked the selfie I posted!!).

Selfies with Marcel Kittel, Tiffany Cromwell and  Elia Viviani!!!

It was a little cooler on race day, because we started at 8:30 am, and it only reached a high of 35 degrees that day. We warmed up, signed on as a team up on a stage and stayed cool until the last possible minute, using ice packs and maximizing the shade. I knew the start was going to be hard and fast, and that because call up was based off of countries UCI points, we didn’t have a lot so Canada started towards the back of the 81 riders. As soon as I could, I pushed myself as far up as possible to hope for a better start. Whistle blew, everyone took off and right away around the second round-a-bout, a girl went down in front of me and I kind of tumbled off my bike. I got back up as quickly as possible, did a cyclocross remount and chased down the pack. As soon as I got back on, 10-15 girls crashed again in front of me and I grabbed my brakes, screeched to a halt and managed to stay upright! Then I had to chase back on again, and finally reached the lead group shortly before the finish line.

Crash in the first kilometre of the race :/ oops!

We had a total of 5 laps to do of the 15km course and there were two feed zones, as well as a neutral feed car at the back of the race. By the time we came around to the second feed zone, I was ready for a feed, having almost finished both bottles. However, it was a mess! There were bottles being thrown everywhere and rolling out into the road, and girls attacking to the front to get a better spot to feed. My hand slipped on the bottle, and to my dismay, I missed that one. By this time, the water left in my bottles was pretty warm, but I didn’t want to sacrifice my good positioning in the top 10-15 riders to go back to the neutral car. The next time we came around to the feed zone I was in great positioning and set to grab a bottle but another countries soigneur was trying to feed an athlete from almost the middle of the road, and I ended up body checking her as I didn’t have enough space to get past! It kind of hurt, but I stayed upright and recovered in time to grab an ice cold bottle with (thank gosh!) a bag of ice attached, that I put down the back of my jersey. Staying in the top part of the group, I was able to follow breaks and had some more control of the race. I knew who to watch, and stayed near the right wheels with 2 laps to go. Despite all the effort I had put in before the race to avoid cramping, with 2.5 laps to go, the muscles in my legs started knotting but I tried to ignore it. As we got down to the final countdown, the riders got even more aggressive and there was yelling and elbow bumping and some very close calls with crashing! With 3 km to go, I was in the top 7 and jumping from one countries train to the next. But I wasn’t quite aware enough, because in the last corner I missed the rush of riders who came up on the inside, and ended up getting boxed in and had to fight my way out. Cramping legs and all, I managed to cross the line in 14th place, which wasn’t the result I was hoping for but taking into account all the obstacles I had, I was proud of how I raced! My first thought when I crossed the finish line was “All I want right now is to go do more racing in Europe!”. Congrats to my teammates for all racing a solid race; we’ll get it next year!

The next couple of days in Qatar, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the buffet and the pool, got to watch the pro men and women’s race and even better, I got to meet Marianne Vos! She has been my idol for the longest time- the way she has found success in multiple disciplines of cycling- and it was a very surreal moment! We got to check out a market, swim in the Persian Gulf and experience a bit more of the Middle Eastern culture before leaving Qatar, which was so cool (and the Gulf was so incredibly warm and salty :’)! To top it off, when were standing in the airport security line, who was in line in front of us? None other than Marianne Vos!

Meeting my idol Marianne Vos!!

This concludes my 2016 road season, and now it’s time to ramp it up for Cross Nationals in 3 weeks!

The Team :)

Thank you so much to TaG Race Team, Epoch Analytical, Power2Max, BORN Sportscare, Obsession Bikes, SCOTT bikes, CODE Sports, Turbine, Masimo MightySat, Catlike, Cycles Lambert, Podium Imports and ISM Saddles, Neil Davies with Jubilee Cycle, Richard Wooles, Local Ride Racing, Cycling Canada and the Hamilton Foundation for the project, and of course my incredibly supportive family, coach/dad and friends for helping me make this an amazing year on the bike!!

-Maggie :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Junior Track World Championships 2016

5 weeks away from home, 3 different beds, 3 crashes, National and World class racing, 12 amazing teammates and probably most impressively, a bronze medal in the women’s omnium at Junior Track World Championships!

After Nationals, me, Erin, Cam Fitzmaurice and John Willcox piled into a car with our bikes and drove 5 hours to Milton, Ontario, where the next 2 weeks were spent training at the 250m velodrome. The training was intense, with usually two sessions a day and included some longer road rides to keep the endurance up. As well, we did lots of team pursuit work on the track to get me, Erin, Ali Vanyzendoorn, Devaney Collier and Laurie Jussaume up to speed as the first Junior Women’s team pursuit team Canada has sent to Worlds in around 4 years. We grew very close over the total of 4 weeks that we lived together, and had a blast building our relationship as teammates and friends, as not many of us knew each other too well before this. Card playing, nail painting, baking and a trip to see Finding Dory in theatres made for a fun week on and off the bike, and writing this blog, two days after I have been separated from the 4 girls, makes me miss them so much already! #teampursuitsisters4life

Junior Women's Track Endurance Team #squadgoals

Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

Towards the end of pre-camp, we got the news that we had been waiting anxiously to hear- who got to do which individual events! I was chosen for the omnium and was beyond thrilled with it! 2 days before we flew over to Switzerland, I crashed during one of our team pursuit efforts and spent the next few days pulling slivers out of my leg. Even though it wasn’t a bad crash, that and the feeling of heavy legs in the days leading up to Worlds had me worried... would I actually be feeling ok when it came time to race? But the coaches and older athletes kept reminding us to trust the taper (shorter efforts and rides to recover and freshen up before race day)! All of the pieces would come together when it came time to start competition.

Anddd off on another flight, stuck between my two TaG teammates (John and Cam), to beautiful Switzerland! Our team house was situated up in the Alps and was a ski chalet that comfortably slept all 12 athletes and 5 coaches and best of all, had a dumbwaiter from the kitchen up to the dining room!

View from my bedroom window in Switzerland!

First impressions of the UCI headquarters track in Aigle, Switzerland- it felt very sketchy and took some time for me to feel out the rights lines. It was a 200m track, like the one I train on in BC, but didn’t feel anything like what I was used to. This track was more of a circle, so the straight aways were shorter, which meant you HAD to be near the front when it came time for the sprints. Oh, it’s also made out of some rare variety of pine wood and the temperature was almost always above 30 degrees, which made for a sweaty warm up and a 15 minute process to wriggle into the skinsuits afterwards. And my first impression of the atmosphere left me quite awed, watching 40 + different countries come and go, and having a Russian rider wink at me on the first day!

Our first race day was just one ride for the Team Pursuit qualifier. It’s amazing how tired you can be after a 4 min and 38 sec effort! Anyways, that was the time we had talked about getting and we rode a flawless ride to get it (our best time, a Canadian record), and qualified 4th! Ali killed it in the points race that night, despite a crash in the qualifier!

Smiles for daysss!
Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

The next day, we woke up, did a 7 am roller spin surrounded by the rising sun on the Alps, then headed to the race to do the semi-finals in the morning and the finals in the afternoon. In the semis, France did a 4:36, which moved them up to qualify 3rd, and we broke our own Canadian record with a 4:37, which kept us in 4th. Nerves super high, but also with the reassurance that the worst that could happen was that we would end up 4th in the World, we went into the ride for bronze against France. And France crushed it! We held our team together, but with 5 laps to go, France came storming around us, and the gun went off. Fourth in the World for Junior Women’s team pursuit, still not bad!

Looking tight in the Bronze medal ride!
Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

Day off with a roller spin and my teammates almost dumping a bucket of water on me from the deck (thank gosh I had just gotten off the rollers!), then time to shine as an individual in the omnium!

All smiles, as per usual! :)
Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

My first race up was the 50 lap Points Race qualifier, and would give me my first taste of what the racing would feel like. I went into it with an idea of who to watch, and the reassurance that as long as I got 8 points early on, then watched for girls who were going to lap the field, I would probably qualify. So, I raced a typical Maggie race, being upfront and aggressive and going into it with a smile on my face! I kept one eye on my coach, who was giving me instructions during the race and one eye on the big screen, showing the point count for the audience. An insanely aggressive race, and I qualified second!

Feeling out the competition, and racing aggressively :D
Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

About an hour later, the first race of the omnium started... the scratch race! It was a race where whenever the group sat up, you had to watch because immediately someone else would attack. Everybody was testing out the others abilities and strengths, to get an idea for the following 5 races. Going into the last lap of the scratch race, I could of had better positioning to go for a top 3 placing. Coming around the last corner, I noticed that the rider in front of me seemed to be a little sketchy, but I didn’t have enough time to come around her before, out of the blue, she crashed 15 meters from the line! My fate was sealed, and I supermaned over her and, still clipped in, slide across the line with my bike to a 5th place finish! You get a placing based on when your bike crosses the line, so I would of gotten 3rd place, but my bike was behind me. -_-  I spent the next bit in medical, getting splinters pulled out of my back!

Taking the "bike throw" to new extremes in the Scratch Race

Next up, I rode to a 7th place in the Individual Pursuit. The times were so fast this year! Last year, my time of 2:26.3 seconds would of gotten me 1st or 2nd! But still, it was a Canadian record and a personal best by over 2 seconds.

I then had the honour of watching Canadian teammate, Stefan Ritter, ride to a gold medal in the Junior men’s Kilo, before I had to start warming up for the elimination!

Going into the Elimination, I had my mind set on the win, because I was determined to finish the day sitting 3rd in the omnium! I remembered back to my first National Championships, were I won my first Elimination, and afterwards, one of the National Team Elite women had told me that I was going to be one of the best Elimination racers in Canada. Even though I was pretty young, I believed her and I held those words with me, going into this race and convinced myself that I was the best Elimination rider! I rode it textbook style, with only one or two close calls, always being near or on the front. At one point, a Russian rider came around me on the sprint lap, but dropped down right in front of me in the sprinters line, so was pulled despite me being the last rider across the line! It came down to a sprint finish between me and the Italian rider, which I took at the line, and won the race! It was such a great feeling and boosted my confidence going into the final 3 races!

Winning the Elimination!
Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

A bit happy after the Elimination ;)
Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

A good nights sleep, and packing up the house, then back to the track for the last day of racing and the last day with the team :(

The day opened with the 500m time trial, not my best event. I still pulled off a 7th place and a Canadian record, but also the realisation that I needed to do more work on standing starts! Next up was one of the events I was most nervous and excited for... the Flying Lap (200m)! Going into Worlds, I had put down some very sad, slow times and also hadn’t practised the line on this track a lot. The coaches just instructed me to watch the guys flying 200’s and trust the taper, and that everything would work out ok! And of course, they were right! I flew into it and almost fell off my bike in shock when I looked up at the board afterwards and saw 11.5 seconds! A new Junior women's Canadian record, 7/10ths faster than my previous personal best and second place for the event!

11.5 sec in the Flying 200m!
Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

I went into the final event, the 100 lap Points Race, sitting in the bronze medal position and 6 points out of silver. It was time to pull out all of the cards, and race as hard as possible, continually reminding myself that after this race, I could rest! I got a few points early on, but then was bumped down to 4th by the Russian rider. A few laps later, I hooked bars with a rider up track, and went down, collecting a few more slivers. As soon as I hit the ground, our mechanic and coach were over there, checking out my bike and getting me up off the ground so that I could get back in the race in time for the next sprint, which was happening in 2 laps (I could of taken a max of 6 laps to get back in the race). So, bruised and bleeding a bit, I got back on track but didn’t quite make it to the front in time for that sprint. With 3 sprints to go, I pushed myself harder than I ever have to bridge to dangerous attacks, and win as many sprints as possible. I finished the race with a bronze medal in the omnium and only 4 points out of silver!

Michaela Drummond (NZ), Elise Balsamo (ITALY), Me :)
Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

Coming off the track, I had to change before podium because my skin suit was black from track burn and ripped. Only then did I notice a giant piece of wood pretty deep in my thigh, but I wouldn’t let medical remove it right away, in case I missed the podium! ;p

Souvenir from the track in Switzerland!
Photo credits: Linda Berger

Junior Track World Championships was such an incredible experience, where I encountered the most aggressive, exciting junior women’s racing ever and got to know some amazing people!

Miss the crew so much <3
Photo credits: Linda Berger

I would like to say such a huge thank you to so many people who supported me, both through messages during the racing and helping me fund this trip! Thank you so much to TaG Race Team, Epoch Analytical, Power2Max, BORN Sportscare, Obsession Bikes, SCOTT bikes, CODE Sports, Turbine, Masimo MightySat, Catlike, Cycles Lambert, Podium Imports and ISM Saddles, Neil Davies with Jubilee Cycle, Richard Wooles, Local Ride Racing, Cycling Canada for the project, and of course my incredibly supportive family, coach/dad and friends!!

Oh Canada :D 
-Maggie :)

Junior Road National Championships 2016

5 weeks away from home, 3 different beds, 3 crashes, National and World class racing, 12 amazing teammates and probably most impressively, a bronze medal in the women’s omnium at Junior Track World Championships!

My amazing adventure started June 21st, with the last day of grade 11. The final bell rang and I raced out of there to go pack my bikes at home in preparation for my red-eye flight that night. I also was asked to go talk at a coaches and teachers conference, that afternoon, about my bike racing and how to inspire school kids to do sports and be competitive. I had planned out my day accordingly to make my transition onto Ontario’s time zone as smooth as possible- which included eating an early dinner, then sleeping right away on the plane. When we landed in the morning, I had a quick breakfast and my classic decaf mocha, then drove to Gatineau, Quebec to Philemon Wright Secondary School, where I was set to take Science Humaines 11 (social studies) provincial exam, because I was missing it back in BC, and could not take it at any other time! As soon as I had finished the 60 multiple guess questions and two essays, a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders, and I was officially done grade 11!

Had so much fun with my TaG teammates <3

The next few days, I got to focus on pre-riding and getting to know the National road and time trial courses in Ontario and Quebec, and then race day came! The first race up was the 80km, flat road race in downtown Ottawa, practically around the Parliament buildings (sadly, I didn’t see Trudeau!). It was a hot one that day, and I had prepared by keeping myself well hydrated in the weeks leading into the race, and getting some extra electrolytes in me to help with cramping issues. Sadly, as many National Championship events seem to be, this Junior Women’s road race was quite a negative race, with team tactics at play and only me and a few others trying to animate the race. In the end, I missed the final break that went and ended up 8th in the finish. We had a few days between the road race and time trial to ride the TT course, swim in a lake and watch bad movies with the TaG squad.

Road Race

Sums us up so well.

It was a little cooler on the day of the time trial, and I felt like I had a good race, but sometimes feelings can be deceiving, and I ended up having the 7th fastest time. Those races are always hard to dissect afterwards, because you know you are a very strong rider and felt like you rode a good race, but can’t figure out where something went wrong! Maybe I wasn’t warmed up enough, maybe I zoned out, I am not sure, but I knew that I needed to redeem myself in the criterium the next day!

Now this crit course is one of my favourite crit courses that I’ve ever raced! It is in the shape of an L and the finish is on a decent climb. My plan going into the race was to attack off the gun and get out of site, out of mind. Apparently a few others had the same idea, because when I missed my pedal at the start, Simone Boilard and Erin Attwell went for it! Once I was clipped in, I sprinted up to them. In the end it turned into a two women break with me and Simone gaining almost 45 seconds on the pack. She’s a tough racer, and tried to jump me every time up the hill, but I wouldn’t let her go! The last lap was perfect for me, as it was very cat and mouse like between us two, just like a track race. The final sprint happened in the last 200 m and I jumped hard and got the win! That helped my confidence a bit, going into the next leg of my journey.

Simone Boilard, Me, Erin Attwell

...adventure to be continued in the next blog! (World Champs)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Junior Track Nationals 2016!

With post race depression already setting in, I thought it would be best to take a break from my homework and use the plane time to write up a blog about this past weekend!

I have been so stocked ever since last years Junior track Nationals in October, where I found out that they were going to host another track Nationals/Worlds qualifiers 6 months later! So back to Milton, Ontario I went last week (March 28th) to ride the glorious 250m velodrome.

Leading up to track Nationals, our focus was on recovery. After having finished my Cyclocross season with the World Championships in Belgium at the end of January, I took a bit of time off, but then it was right back on the bike to start my prep for Nationals. I found that I would get a lactic acid flow happening in my legs almost everytime I got on my bike, so we set out to find ways of getting rid of that. Massage, eating and drinking properly, hot and cold showers as well as compression and recovery creams were part of my daily routine to try and beat the fatigue in my legs. And they definitely paid off! In the weeks leading into Nationals, I got some personal best times on our track in Burnaby, and also started seeing an increase in my road form. Having only done under 2 hour rides for the past few months, being thrown into a 3 hour race was a bit of a shock at first, but with each weekly race I was seeing improvements and I am stocked to kick off the stage races with Walla Walla next weekend!

I got my splits!! Almost :)

Ok, back to the track! Friday, April 1st was our first day of racing and was the team events. Tripleshot BC rider, Erin Attwell and I raced the team sprint together, with her starting and me finishing. We had only ever practiced the team sprint together twice, but are both strong riders so we had our sights set on a fast time! In the qualifiers, We had some start trouble but still managed to put down a junior women Canadian Record time of 36.649 seconds!!! In the finals, we cleaned up our start, although had a bit of a spook when a sticker came flying off her rear wheel, but still ended up breaking our own Canadian Record with a time of 36.3 seconds (not even an April Fool’s joke!)! Fun fact: the junior women’s World Record is high 33 seconds, so maybe with a little more practice.... :D

Erin Attwell!! <3 :D

Photo credits: Greg Inkster

Day two brought similar victories, with the day starting out with the individual pursuit. I came second in the qualifiers, which qualified me to ride for gold in the finals. I was so happy with my ride in the finals, and felt that I executed it flawlessly, by simply riding by feel and getting my dad to only yell at me if my lap was slower than the maximum time we’d set. The qualifying time for Worlds was 2 min, 32 sec and in both rides my times were 2 min 29 sec or less! Getting gold automatically qualified me go to the World Champs in July in Switzerland!

Junior Women's Individual Pursuit poidium
Photo credits: Michael Guillemette

Not too much later, the sprint tournament kicked off with a flying 200m qualifier, where I beat the time standard for Worlds and got another Canadian Record! We had some pretty sweet cat and mouse moments in the sprint tourney, such as when Erin Attwell pinned me into almost a track stand entering a corner, unil I realized I had to get myself out of it and backed off a bit and cut down sharply, missing her rear wheel by inches (it looked like a bigger gap then it was!). I think both of our hearts were pounding, and I was kinda shocked when I stayed upright after my sharp swerve down!

The last race of the day was the points race, and it had some interesting tactics, with a group getting away mid-race. It was very hard to keep a proper chase going. Eventually, I chased down a girl bridging up to the leaders, passed them and soloed the last 8 laps to win the last sprint and get my third National Championship jersey of the day!

Sunday, my legs felt dead every minute until I got on the track, then they seemed to wake up only for the duration of the race. Warm-ups, cool downs and proper eating habits were difficult throughout the whole weekend and I would sometimes find myself going from 7am to 8 or 9pm with only having a small salad. I think many people find it hard to eat during track races, especially with a fast track where the air is incredibly hot (I even think the bright lights gave me a tan! ;p), but eating is so important to keep your energy up! Something to work on :) We started the day with the 500m time trial, where Erin Attwell picked up gold, beating me by 2/10ths of a second! It was a good battle, and even better was that we both beat the qualifying standard!

500m Time Trial Start
Photo credits: Michael Guillemette

Then the scratch race happened, which was aggressive and high paced, followed by the Keirin and Keirin finals after lunch, where I managed to get myself out of my boxed in position and power to the line for first, collecting my 6th championship jersey. Last but not least was the hardest elimination race I have ever raced! There were attacks and counter attacks, and groups off of the front! I got myself boxed in a few too many times and my dad found it quite a nerve-racking race to watch! It came down to a sprint finish between Devaney Collier (team Alberta) and I to the line! It wasn’t a championship event, but was a fun way to top off the weekend!

Teammates kicking butt!

 I had SUCH a blast this year at Nats, meeting riders from across Canada and chilling with the awesome BC gang! Ooh what’s even better is, after a delicious, greasy dinner out we got to finish the weekend with a snowball fight... in April!

Thank you so much to Cycling Canada and all of the commissaires who made this week possible! Also, thanks a ton to my team, TaG Cycling and sponsors, Epoch Analytical, CODE Sports, Power2Max, BORN Sportscare and Pacific Sport for all of the support! Thank you Matt Chater and my dad/coach, Barry Lyster for helping me prep and my awesome sponsors for lending me some amaaaazing disk wheels to race on!

I am so excited to start my road season, but also to plan out my training for Junior Track Worlds in Switzerland at the end of July!!

Maggie :)

Belgium Part 2!

A little late, but here we go!

Racing in Belgium was highly addictive, and I can’t wait until I get another chance to go back and give it another shot! After the Hoogerheide World Cup cross race, team Canada spent the week training, getting massages (!) and resting up for the big race- the Zolder Cyclocross World Championships! The race took place in, around and over a car race track, which made for some fun fast road sections, and great spectating!  I was shocked when I first saw the course- the Zolder races that I had watched online were a great deception, as I thought it was more or less a flat course. But nope. Over half of the course took place on the side of a hill, so there were lots of ups and downs. I found it incredibly fun when I first got to ride it, on one of our pre-ride days, as there were three flyovers, some steep decents and a super steep run up, that made you feel like a monkey as you ran up it, because at points you would be using your hands to help you stay balanced. Once again, I got to pactice more bike changes with our fantastic pit crew, meet the youtubers, Global Cycling Network, guys (I even made it into one of their videos!), and discuss some lines with some pro-women from other countries!

Race day was a totally different story from pre-ride. The two days we pre-rode the course, it was dry and even sunny. But naturally, mother nature preferred race day to bring on the downpour. Besides the run ups getting slick, the course didn’t change that much, and was even better in some ways because there were more ruts to choose from for lines. I went through my warm up routine, picked my way through the crowd of fans walking down team alley, ogling at the pro-riders, and finally lined up with the field of approximately 50 u23 women (at the back, because of my lack of UCI points)! Despite my hours of start practice in training, even with a bob trailer and a piece of a log in it, I had trouble clipping in when the whistle blew. In those situations, you just need to relax, first focus on getting your foot into the pedal, then go hard! I slightly panicked, and once I finally got it in, had some ground to make up. I was able to make up a decent amount of ground around the first couple of corners. As fate has it, when we got to the switchbacks about halfway through first lap, a girl went to dismount beside me and ended up kicking my shoe when she swung her leg over. After remounting, I clipped in, and my foot felt like it was going to come out the shoe, so I reached down to do the buckle back up, assuming it had come undone, and poof! It was gone. It had burst, and my foot was now slipping around in my shoe. I still pushed hard through the wet, exhausting conditions, executing some awesome bike changes and mounts/dismounts (thanks to the help from Aaron Schooler a few days earlier!) and finished my first World Championship race in front of a crowd of 40,000 spectators!

It is unfortunate that practically the only two mechanicals I have ever had happened when I was racing on the world stage, but that’s ‘cross for ya! Post race, I got to watch Canada’s elite women, Mical Dyck, crush the women’s field, and try the famous fries and mayonnaise (which is surprisingly good!). The next day, we got to watch the u23 and elite men’s race, explore the crazy packed drink tents, with bands playing and people singing and dancing, and all the elite riders paraphernalia (t-shirts, scarves,  flags and more with riders faces on them!). A highlight was being able to watch the end of the elite men’s race in a rider’s only area, right at the finish line, with British rider, Helen Whyman, then get right up front, to watch Wout Van Aert collect his rainbow jersey!

This was an amazing trip, and I can’t thank Cycling Canada enough for all of the support we got over there, nor my sponsors for all of the support you gave me to get to Belgium for Worlds!  

Maggie :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Belgium World Cup


So I am in Belgium, 3 days out of the World Championships! Sunday, I raced my first World Cup Cyclocross race in Hoogerheide, Holland and it was quite the experience! It was one of the muddiest, slipperiest, most unforgiving and taxing courses I have ever raced. Some of the straight aways were so muddy that you couldn't ride them! There was also a killer 42 stair run up... ouch! I raced Elite Women (there was no u23 category) and despite having very few UCI points and getting one of the last call ups, I had a great start! I used running to my advantage around the first muddy section where everything backed up, and passed quite a few people! On the first steep descent, someone braked hard in front of me and I kind of ran into a tree (oops). I crashed and dropped my chain which kind of sucked, but hey, it got me on TV! Catching up was tricky, since everyone had passed me. However, I had finally caught up whennn I crashed again and was furthermore pulled from the race going into my last lap. Despite the crashing (which is all apart of cylcocross.. kind of ;) it was a great learning experience + I got to do bike changes in the pits thanks to Cycling Canada and the team of 7 mechanics!

One of my crashes

Up until this race and afterwards, my days are spent living the life of a pro cyclist! Hanging out with the 12 other National team members, eating, and getting my bike cleaned and tuned up for me! I am having a total blast and cannot wait until Worlds, where I get to race with the u23 women in front of an estimated crowd of 75,000 to 100,000 people!

Canada's two u23's post our first World Cup race :)
Ruby West and me

Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me and helped me get to this point and a big thank you to the Canadian National Cx Team for taking care of me here in Belgium!

Peace out until the flight home!

Maggie :)