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 :)

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