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 :)