Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Road National Championships 2017

Soo back in the air and country traversing to Ottawa/Gatineau for the 2017 Junior Road National Championships. Firstly, shout out to mother nature for cooling down the weather, compared to the muggy heat of last year and sorry to the elite men who were caught in the thunderstorm for both the road race and time trial!


Anyways, was great to be reunited with the TaG fam for our last big trip of the year, always chill times and lots of laughs to be had with those amazing people! So for my first subtitle, I would like to call this the Curse of the Road Race. Suffered bad luck last year with missing the break and cramping issues, and this year, 15km into the race, a crack in the road attacked my front tire and flat! A slow wheel car plus some attacks and an acceleration in the pack made my chase to get back on futile. I gave it my all, and still finished the 70km race with a few dropped riders 6 minutes back from the pack.

Focused before the road race start :)


Okay, I let that go and powered on to the next race: The Time Trial. Time Trials have never been my strong suit, and always something I’ve needed to dedicate a lot of time to. Before the race, I found roads out West similar to the course and did lots of training and simulations to prepare myself. I was warmed up and ready to prove to myself that I could do it. However, as it can happen in a race, other girls were stronger and I ended up 5th place. Now I know that’s still awesome, but as I am always shooting for that top step and have consistently high expectations for myself, it wasn’t good enough.

Pre-riding the TT with the TaG crew

Lucky me got to follow up the time trial by doing my French Provincial Exam at a school in Quebec... in a storm... during a power outage. But hey, the WiFi still worked so I went in and crushed that exam which meant I had officially completed High School!

Mandatory last exam taken at a school in Quebec, in a thunder storm and power outage after the Time Trial but on the bright side, I'm done High School!

One more day in Quebec and probably the race I was most excited for... The Criterium! I was a giddy, bubble of excitement all day and was beyond ready to defend my 2016 Crit Champ title! Last year, Simone Boilard and I had attacked off the line, and rode the whole race in a break with it coming down to a two up sprint. This year, I went in with the same plan, but the pack wasn't about to be tricked like that again. Despite numerous attacking attempts by some strong girls, a break never stuck, until the end where it ended up being a group of 9 of us with about a 30 second gap for the sprint. With a shorter, steeper hill up to the line, I left my jump until the last 150 meters and defended my title! Congrats also to Kurt Penno who defended his 2016 Junior Men's Crit Champ title as well :)

Crit champ title: defended :)

Thank you to TaG Cycling Race Team for making this happen and for my dad (Barry Lyster) and Kelyn Akuna for keeping us in line! Also, shout out to InstaFund Financial, RAND, Haywood Securities, Brookfield, TRG Group Benefits, Adera Home, Ryders Eyewear, SCOTT Bikes, Obsession Bikes, BORN Sportscare, Power2Max, ISM Seats and CODE Sports for all the support!

-Maggie <3

Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Road Season 2017... where has the time gone?!

*So now with finally a bit of downtime, I'm going through some blog posts that I'd meant to finish, but for whatever reason grade 12 exams took priority*

3 weeks left of school... 1.5 weeks until Grad... 4 weeks until Road Nationals... AHHH. Where has the time gone?? It feels like just yesterday we had the first road race of the season. I'll try to avoid getting all nostalgic and sappy, so instead I'll do a short recount of the past 3 months.

The travel started in February, when my mom and I flew to LA to go grad dress shopping with my aunt and I also managed to squeeze in a a few training days at the LA Velodrome with ex-Canadian sprint coach, Travis Smith. With Nationals only a month away, it was great to get a few days of concentrated sprint work in!

A few weeks later, I hopped on a plane to Spain to join my European team, Lares-Waowdeals for a week training camp in the sun. I was really nervous going because I was flying to a new country to stay with people whom I'd never really met before! But besides some language barriers, I had an amazing time! The 5 other junior women on my team (3 from Belgium, 2 from the Netherlands) were so nice and set out on a mission to teach me Dutch (not an easy language to learn...). We got to stay in a fancy resort on the water with a bunch of other teams, had a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner, soigneurs who gave us daily massages and experience incredible riding right from the door! Living the life of a pro, I really didn't want to come home from paradise...

However, the travel bug was kept to a minimum because 3 weeks later it was off to Milton, Ontario for Junior Track Nationals. There, I claimed 8 Gold Medals, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze. I also finally hit my long time goal of lapping the field in a Points Race- twice!

Photo credits: Michel Guillemette

Stoked on my achievements and ready for my next challenge, I jetted out immediately after racing ended to the Netherlands for the Nations Cup Junior Healthy Ageing Tour with Lares-Waowdeals. It was such an eye opening, learning experience. 120 girls started the 4 day stage race, and 70 finished. For me, this was a huge game of learning to hold position and move through a pack of that many riders. The last day, I flatted with 10km to go, chased back on, then crashed with 2km to go. However, I still finished the race and ended up 55th.

Had some more local and USA elite stage races, where I was on the podium in every single criterium and road race, with the highlight being winning Elite Provincial Road Championships! My road form has felt better than ever this year, and I'm excited to see what I can do next!

Maggie :)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Masimo MightySat

When the majority of the pack in cycling can compete at the same level, winning the race comes down to the marginal gains. Before Road Worlds last year I added a new, extremely valuable tool to my collection... the MightySat Fingertip Pulse Oximeter! Now I am still pretty new to all of the science behind the functions on it, but basically what it does is measures your pulse rate, oxygen saturation, perfusion index, respiration rate and pleth variability index.

The pulse rate is pretty self explanatory; how many times your heart beats per minute. The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate will be, because more blood is pumped with each pulse; your heart is strengthened to work more efficiently :) One of the most useful measurements I found was the oxygen saturation. It is the measurement, as a percentage, of oxygen in the arterial blood. Higher levels of blood oxygen, means that more oxygen is being transported around the body, thus providing more oxygen to your muscles. Ideally, as an athlete you want the blood saturation percentage to be in between 97-100%, which means that your muscles have enough oxygen and are fully recovered. If the percentage is in the low 90s or less, your muscles haven’t had enough time to fully re-oxygenate after your last workout. Part of my routine when I was training hard at pre-camp before Worlds would be to check all of my levels in the morning, which helped reassure me that I had properly recovered from the previous days training, and that I was good to go for the day. Using this knowledge, of course along with how my legs and body were feeling, allowed me to maximise each days training endeavours.
Finding out that my legs were pretty much always 98/99% leading up to Worlds also really helped me mentally, finding more confidence and reassurance in the fact that I was in prime race form and ready to take on the world!
Got the essentials for a successive day! 

The perfusion index is used to measure peripheral blood flow, which is how much blood is flowing to your fingers and toes. Less blood flow = colder fingers. There is no “normal” ratio for the PI, so it is a matter of finding out what the normal ratio is for you, then keeping track of any changes and how they correlate with changes to the other measurements. The respiration rate is how many breaths you take per minute, and like the pulse rate, can fluctuate up and down more quickly for people with higher levels of fitness. It is important to know this and find out how to influence how many breaths you take per minute because when you get nervous before a race, for example, you breathe shorter, hyperventilating breaths which inhibits the amount of oxygen that goes to your key muscles like your brain and legs! Fun fact, people take 12-20 breaths per minute at rest. Lastly, the pleth variability index is the change in blood flow to your fingers (your perfusion index) in one breathing cycle.

Being more aware of what is going on inside my body has inspired me to find ways to influence the levels to improve performance. Breathing exercises became a big part of my morning routines as well. Increasing my lung capacity so I could be more efficient with absorbing oxygen during races, and control my anxiety before competitions as well as and watching how the breathing exercises influenced the blood oxygen levels and heart rate gave me some extra marginal gains to focus on utilising.

Morning routines :)

Thanks Dotsie Bausch and Masimo for introducing me to this invaluable tool, and I look forward to continuing to learn about it and use it to make this year a great year of racing!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Happy 2017!

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a good holiday season and a great start to 2017! I am writing to you from school, where I am sitting at the window watching people slip on the dreaded 4 inches of ice outside, and stressing about online calculus because the WiFi is down! All negatives aside, here is a summary of my fairly chill past 2 months :)

After a successful Junior Road World Championships in Qatar, I took 7 weeks off the bike and decided to not go to Cyclocross Nationals because I was in dire need of a mental and physical break. I still went to the gym, did lots of yoga and TRX and rode my horse, Elmo to try and avoid going stir crazy! However, coming off of an amazing season and the “racing high,” then that shift back into reality, along with time off the bike is very mentally tough. Those first couple of weeks that I was off I was in a super strange headspace and would have these random meltdowns at school and the gym. Yoga was a huge asset for me then, because of the mental relaxation and all of the balance and stability in life it preaches.

December 1st, training officially started again, but I eased back into it with some time on the track and trainer as well as a new gym program. Conveniently, around the time when I was going to get out on the road bike Vancouver got its first real snow in many years! Which then froze... and is only melting now. I probably sound pathetic compared to the rest of Canada, but -5 to -15 is cold! That meant more time spent inside over the break :/

The winter break brought with it lots of family and Christmassy stuff and some nice downtime where I had no regrets about being lazy! Then came a pretty chill New Years Eve and shortly after (well, 2 day to be exact), January 2nd, where my dad/coach and I sat down and looked at my next few months and discussed how my training would go. Back to the grind, and there’s nothing I want more than to be back on the bike!

Some very exciting stuff in store for 2017! Over the Christmas break, I signed my first team contract to race with the Belgian UCI Women’s development program, Lares-Waowdeals. I am so honoured to be a part of this team, along with 5 other junior women and, on the elite team, Thalita de Jong! (2016 Elite Women Cyclocross World Champion).

I am also excited to share that I will be racing North American races with the team who gave me so much incredible support last year, TaG Cycling Race Team! Stoked for some awesome team trips with the squad again this year. :)

First up is a training camp in Spain with Lares-Waowdeals, then a full road season with TaG. Following Road Nationals, I am going to move to Belgium for the summer and fall and race with Lares-Waowdeals. My goals for this year include a gold medal in the new omnium at Junior Track Worlds, a podium at Junior Road Worlds and win a European race!

I would like to say a big thank you for all of the support in 2016, and would like to welcome some new sponsors on board to help me with my journey in 2017! Thank you Local Ride Racing, TaG Cycling Race Team, Lares-Waowdeals, Cycling Canada, CODE Sports, Power2Max, Masimo, ISM, Podium Sports, Epoch Analytical, Cycles Lambert, Vision Wheels, Orange Sport, Born SportsCare, Bont Cycling.

-Maggie :)