Thursday, January 25, 2018

Happy New Year Part 2


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!


Happy New Year Part 1

Happy Belated New Year!

So it has been quite a while since I have blogged... looking back, I have a bunch of half finished blogs so I'm just going to sum them all up here. If you choose to venture down the path of concurring my blogs, grab a coffee and may the force be with you!

2017 was a huge year for me filled with new experiences, big races and the best conclusion to my junior career! The year really started in July where I had my best ever BC Superweek. I first raced Superweek when I was 14, so it is amazing seeing how far I've come since then, from not finishing a single crit to top 10's, top 5's and even a 2nd place finish, as well as my first UCI point with a top 10 in the UCI Delta road race.

First BC Superweek podium!!

Post Superweek, I had a week to recover and see my friends for the last time for a while before we all went our different ways. Then it was off to Europe! From mid July to the beginning of November, I spent a total of 9 days at home and the rest on the road in many different countries. First stop was Belgium to join Lares-Waowdeals (my elite women/junior development Belgian team) for some bigger road races. I got off the plane with just my suitcase (as I rode the teams Eddy Merckx which they kept in Belgium for me) and waited to be picked up by my team director (whom I'd never met before and had no idea what he looked like so finding him in the airport was, well, interesting!). For the next few weeks I stayed with him and his family in their big, old, very Belgian house near the cycling capital Oudenaarde in the West Flanders region. There were also two Japanese riders staying at his house, so I had others to adventure the Belgian countryside and cobbled climbs with (although they spoke mostly Japanese, I speak English and French and the team spoke mostly Dutch... so conversation was always a solid challenge haha!). My favourite part to think back on was probably how well I got along with my team directors 6 year old son who only spoke Dutch! He was a great teacher, pointing out animals and making me repeat their Dutch names syllable by syllable :)

Post-Tour Criterium squad

My little Dutch teacher :)

Anyways, this first month or so had its ups and downs, and most of it was just figuring out how to live pretty much on my own in a country where I didn't speak the language and finding a daily routine to avoid laying in bed and procrastinating training till late in the day (which was not hard to do!). I lived for race days and while I was there raced multiple kermesses, a Post-Tour criterium and at the end, drove down to France for the Tour Charente-Maritime Feminin where I placed 9th in a field of over 100 elite women.

Me... crushing a TT?! Oh yaaaa

Legs up between stages with my awesome Dutch teammate Tamara Van der Horst

The day after the last stage of Tour Charente-Maritime, I hopped on a plane and joined team Canada in Milton, Ontario for the pre-Worlds training camp. 10 days later, it was back to Europe for Junior Track World Champs in Montichiari, Italy. This was an amazing trip in the coolest country, with the best teammates, and all of the pieces fell into place so I ended the week with a 5th place in Team Pursuit, silver medal in the Omnium (my first time racing the new Omnium format and after suffering a crash with 2 laps to go in the Tempo- and still winning that race!). The Saturday brought the long dreamt-of Gold medal in the Points Race, with taking a lap and crashing with 10 laps to go while on neutral from another crash! Crazinessss!! The last day of Worlds, I channeled the last bit of energy in my system and Laurie Jussaume and I took on the Madison finishing in 7th and collapsing on the floor in a heap of emotional, exhausted wrecks afterwards! I can't express just how cool it was to, once again, meet new people from around the world, lots of who I am still in contact with or whom I've seen at other races since.

Crashed, riding my teammates bike (because I broke mine...) but couldn't be happier :)

Ooops... what would be Junior Track World Champs without a crash... or two ;)

I spent another week in Italy after Worlds, spending some time off the bike, limping around beautiful Venice and trying to avoid falling in canals with my family. Then we said our goodbyes and went separate ways at the airport, me flying back to Belgium and them back to Canada. I had three days of training, then us 4 Lares-Waowdeal girls were packed into a sprinter van and we drove almost 10 hours straight down to the Ardeche region of France for one of the hardest women's stage races, the 6 stage Tour de L'Ardeche. We stayed in little trailer homes with all of the other teams, and it was really motivating and inspiring to interact and race with other Canadian Superstars racing on UCI teams like Alison Jackson and Lex Albrecht.

My lil sisters, always there for me <3

Venice and no bike! :D

Anyways, I suffered through 4/6 stages of Ardeche, each one 90-125km with it's own set of hills to kick your butt... some climbs being over 20km long. Now let me tell you, going from high speed, powerful track racing to the French mountains is NOT the easiest transition, but we figured it would be a perfect way to prep for Road Worlds in Bergen, Norway two weeks later. One of my best results in this UCI race with over 100 women was in the short, windy, hilly TT where I got top 50 and the top result among the riders on my team. Afterwards my team director exclaimed how I'm a "natural, strong TT'er!" Definitely the first time I had heard those words and probably was the highlight of that race :D

Canada, Spain, Belgium, France... everyone came to battle at Ardeche!

...continued in next blog

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 :)