The fight for the Maple Leaf

"My biggest enemy is my inner me" . David and I have been watching a rap series called Rhythm and Flow, and one of the young rapper on the show keeps saying this.

I can totally relate to that quote. For the longest time, I've always been my own worst enemy and my most fierce opponent. In a sense, I still am, but I've grown to really know and understand my inner me a lot better. I'm now more able to control myself and I've developed tricks & strategies to get the best out of myself on a regular basis.

I'm sure everyone has been in a situation like this before: Let's say you're playing basket ball and shooting hoops. You tell yourself: "Alright, let's see if I can get 3 in a row". You hope to get 3 in a row. You get the first two and then you start really hoping you can get the third one. But is it really up to chance if you're going to succeed?

What if, instead of hoping to succeed, you focused on exactly what you have to do to get the ball in the net? Place your hands that way, look at that specific spot, use that amount of force, etc.

Racing is the same for me. I used to be nervous about being nervous. "Will I be able to race to my full potential today?" That made me nervous because I felt I was not in control of it. But I've been working on it and I know it's my decision to perform to the best of my abilities - it's not up to chance.

Nervous, focused, ready...and cold! Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

Nervous, focused, ready...and cold! Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

The Race

I'm telling you all that because yesterday, I was nervous. Championships are special in a way that all you did in the season prior to that event does not count on the day. It's all about that one race to decide who will be the champion of the country for the following year. Everyone wants it, and anyone can take it.

I was nervous because I really wanted it. I knew it would not be easy. Jenn Jackson is a fierce competitor and I know she wanted to win as much as I did. But I embraced the stress - I was happy to be nervous, it was a confirmation that I wanted to win, and I was prepared to work hard for it.

From the start, Jenn Jackson was right there on my wheel and putting pressure. No surprise there. The first time at the barrier, she bunny hopped them as I ran them, and she gain a bit of time on me. "Noted". We rode the first lap together. I would gain a bit of time in the pedalling sections and she would gain that time back in the technical sections. My plan was to play it safe in the technical sections because I wanted to be sure not to make any mistake. But she was riding really well and it made me think maybe I would need to ride those sections more aggressively. On the second lap, she took the lead on the pavement, so I recovered on her wheel. I felt I maybe had a little bit more in the pedalling sections, so I knew the only way to win was to be at the front and put pressure from there. I adjusted and bunny hopped the barriers too, but other than that, I still played it safe. Hard, safe, hard safe...that was my strategy. After about 3 laps, I was staring to open a slight gap, so I kept pushing and pushing. It was tough - it was 0 degrees and raining outside, so we could not feel our hands and had to pay attention when shifting (luckily for me, the SRAM e-tap was super helpful here!). After a long race of digging deep and riding safely, I was able to create a gap and keep it until the finish line to take the win.

It felt really good. Even more so because it had been such a hard race. I can thank Jenn for that - she brought the battle to me and brought the best out of me on the day. That's super cool. I'm very happy to be representing the Maple Leaf for one more year.

Jenn came out firing today! Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

Jenn came out firing today! Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

Digging deep. Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

Digging deep. Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

Photo : NIck Iwanyshyn

Photo : NIck Iwanyshyn

Conclusion


I've done many, many mistakes in my career so far, and in a sense it's really nice because I feel I am finally starting to benefit from all those mistakes. I can't count the number of National Championships I messed up. But it's really cool to be here a few years later and be able to respond better to a similar situation where I would have flunked before. I think it's that progress (which David and I have been working on) that makes me the happiest.

It was a very quick trip for David and I. We drove 5h Friday, raced Saturday and drove 5h back home right after the race. But it was a great trip - my parents were there (which is always very cool) and it was pretty awesome to hang with the Canadian cyclocross community. Thank you everyone for cheering yesterday!!

As always - it just so happens that my job on the team is to pedal and cross the finish line. But the truth is that jersey belongs to many more people. Thanks for making it happen :)

Happy and tired :) Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

Happy and tired :) Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

Thank you for the good battle Jenn! Photo Nick Iwanyshyn

Thank you for the good battle Jenn! Photo Nick Iwanyshyn

CX Fever!!!! by Nick Iwanyshyn

CX Fever!!!! by Nick Iwanyshyn

Bern World Cup

One of my good friend, Italian cyclocross & mountain bike champion Eva Lechner, always talks about "the fighting spirit". The fighting spirit is crucial to race well. It's that "zone" where you are fully focused in the race and you are battling as best you can. You attack each section, you fight for each position.

A race without the fighting spirit is actually pretty boring...those are the days when you are stuck in your own head and can't get out of your own way...the days when if someone passes you, you don't even try to stay with them. I've had many of those days and they are horrible (as much during, as after the race).

Today, I had a STRONG fighting spirit. I've been working on it - on bringing that spirit to every workout, to make sure it becomes a habit and not only something I can "wish" to have on race day.

So from the start, I was super agressive, I was pedalling hard, I was fighting for my spot. My problem?! Maybe the fighting spirit was TOO strong. I kept making so many mistakes and loosing positions with crashes and mishaps. Then, I'd pedal or run super hard and catch people...until I crashed again and lost more spots. The whole race was like that.

I liked the running section because although it hurt, I was really forcing myself to sprint and I would always catch someone. Photo by Balint Hamvas

I liked the running section because although it hurt, I was really forcing myself to sprint and I would always catch someone. Photo by Balint Hamvas

With two laps to go, I realized what was wrong. I told myself I had to fight when the course was straight, but I had to calm down and be gentle when we were turning in the muddy, rutty, slippery sections. It got a bit better, but I still was making mistakes. I think I wasn't able to accept that some turns would be slow, even if this is what you need to do to perform well in those kind of races.

In other words, I should have listened to this during the race warm up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dkk9gvTmCXY

But instead, I listened to "Animal I have become" from Three Days Grace...

So in the end, am I happy or not? The truth is I am happy. I'm super proud of how I fought. I'm proud of how agressive I was (I normally get hammered the first time in Europe). Mostly, I'm happy because I really tried my best. Sure, I wish I would have done better. And yes, I'm a bit mad at myself for all those mistakes. But when you really fight and do your absolute best, you can actually look back at your race and know honestly what you need to work on. And when you do your best, you have no regrets.

It's true that you can learn a lot in defeat. But only if you really tried your absolute best, and if you were fully present/focus during the race. When you get beat because you had your head in your ass the whole race, unfortunately you don't learn anything.

I can say I made it count today! Photo @ Balint Hamvas

I can say I made it count today! Photo @ Balint Hamvas

Looking ahead, I'm pretty motivated to come back to Europe and try again. I'll work on managing my fighting/calm mindset, and I'll work on riding those ruts with more confidence.

In the end, 11th is not that bad. I would have been thrilled with that before...and that's another new thing I'm learning to deal with. Yes, I won a World Cup, but it does not mean that anything less than a win is bad. After all, those are freakin' WORLD Cups...like, really good people from many countries show up and try to win. So although I'm not tremendously satisfied with my performance, there is a lot of positive, and to me, it's pretty cool to see that an "average" day now is much better than what it used to be. After all, I'm still 2nd in the World Cup Overall behind Katerina.

We are now going for Swiss Cheese Fondue in Berne with Katerina, Waldek, Katie Compton and her husband Mark Legg. It should be a fun evening :)

The racing was super tight today (except for Annemarie Worst who was a real boss!). That's the best kind of racing because you have to be "on it" the whole time. Photo by Balint Hamvas

The racing was super tight today (except for Annemarie Worst who was a real boss!). That's the best kind of racing because you have to be "on it" the whole time. Photo by Balint Hamvas

Happy and tired :) Photo by Balint Hamvas

Happy and tired :) Photo by Balint Hamvas

Race machine after a good day. Photo by Balint Hamvas

Race machine after a good day. Photo by Balint Hamvas

Waterloo World Cup - An Emotional Week

Sometimes, I think I'm an emotion manager more than a bike racer...Maybe full-time emotion manager & part-time bike racer. Thank god I only have myself to manage...but then again, I'm such a mess sometimes! That said, I've been enjoying trying to use my emotions to help me race/train better this year, rather that trying to ignore them. I've been working hard at trying to channel the proper emotion (calm V.S excitement) when I need it.

That was actually one of the biggest challenge for me this week; to manage my emotions after winning the World Cup in Iowa...I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to show up to Waterloo with the same fire I had in Iowa; not because I didn't want to win as badly - trust me, I did. In fact, maybe it was such a challenge because I was coming off a big high and I so badly wanted to back off the win with another big result.

I really tried to not get too excited after Iowa, and all week we kept doing our training and normal preparation as if nothing had happened. But it was hard to pretend nothing had happened after achieving a dream, so I worked hard on managing my emotions and getting in the right headspace heading into the second round of the World Cup in Waterloo.

Straight out of a country song…Crying after last week’s race. Photo by Balint Hamvas

Straight out of a country song…Crying after last week’s race. Photo by Balint Hamvas

A Dirty Affair
Admittedly, I never look at the weather in day-to-day life...I just go on with whatever mother nature throws at us. But in the cross season, I totally obsess over the weather and refresh my 'Weather Network' App at least every hour.

When we woke up on Sunday morning, though, I didn't even have to look at my App. It was very clear that we were in for a WET and muddy day. I wasn't going to complain with that - I enjoy those conditions!

Now, I know that it's not because I won one big race that I am expected to win all of them. So I really focused on getting the best out of myself this weekend, and not too much on the result. Still, I was pretty nervous before this race, but I tried to soak it all in and enjoy the experience of wearing the World Cup leader's skin-suit.

After the first pre-ride of the day in the mud, a smile quickly came to my face and I was excited to race. I love slipping and sliding on my bike. On a muddy day like we had yesterday, the course is constantly changing and there is no perfect way to ride it - it's a continuous puzzle and you have to adapt your riding lap by lap. It's very stimulating, and also very difficult.

A proper pressure washer shower by David.  Photo by Balint Hamvas

A proper pressure washer shower by David.
Photo by Balint Hamvas

Photo by Balint Hamvas

Photo by Balint Hamvas

The race started and I was instantly not feeling at my best. I tried to stay calm and focused, but I felt a little bit soft. It was brutal and chaotic. In muddy conditions, it's not a question of "if" you'll make a mistake...it's mostly about "how" you will react to your mistakes, and it's about always moving forward. There are many people around you, but you are really fighting yourself and the course, just trying to go as fast as possible. You feel slow and heavy, and no line seem to be ideal, but the brutality of it makes it pretty special. I could see that I was not having the best day, but I really wanted to keep fighting for every single position. I had the World Cup Overall standings in my mind and I knew that when February came, I'd be happy that I fought for each spot.

On the last lap, I wasn't feeling any better, but I seemed to be riding a little better and I caught a few people. I was very close to catch the 4th position, but we were going exactly the same speed, tip-toeing and balancing our way through a muddy off camber in the final moments of the race, and she ended up beating me by 4 seconds.

I finished 5th, and I was happy about the race. I'm happy about how I fought the whole time. Before, on a "not amazing day" I would have had a bad day...but this time, I managed to make the most of this "not amazing day" and ended up having a pretty good day! I lost the leader's jersey to Katerina, who brilliantly won the race yesterday. However, I'm still second in the Overall standings, so we'll bring the battle to Switzerland for the 3rd round of the World Cup in a month.

Mom and Dad even made the trip to watch the race and cheer. They are now real pros with the muddy races and came well equipped! Dad even helped David in the pits and executed a nice bike change :)

Photo by Balint Hamvas

Photo by Balint Hamvas

I can imagine an outsider wondering WHY we choose to do this! It's pretty cool playing in the mud. 4 years old Magh would think this is a pretty good life plan!Photo by Balint Hamvas

I can imagine an outsider wondering WHY we choose to do this! It's pretty cool playing in the mud. 4 years old Magh would think this is a pretty good life plan!Photo by Balint Hamvas

We are now on our way back home after the first racing block of the season. Both David and I are super happy about how it went. Not only did we have good results, but we got to test our setup and our equipment and everything was flawless. We also had such a good time with the cyclocross community - we really love the people of cyclocross, we love the sport. We both feel so lucky and happy to be a small part of this community. As we're driving (and by we, I mean David), we are listening to the new Taylor Swift album, and the emotion manager side of me, allowed me to feel all happy and fuzzy in my belly! That's how cyclocross makes me feel - it's fun to soak it in.

Yet, although I'm happy about how it went, I still want more. I think that's my competitive side taking over. I really wanted to win yesterday, but truly, it may be a good thing that I did not win...I'm so fired up to work hard and hungry to get better. I got a small taste of success in this first trip and it tasted quite nice, so I want more.

Nouvelle équipe Specialized/Feedback Sports

L’équipe CXFever devient Specialized/Feedback Sports 

 À seulement quelques semaines du début de la saison de cyclocross 2019-20, nous sommes bien excités et très fiers d’annoncer le lancement de l’équipe Specialized/Feedback Sports

En Août 2018, Maghalie Rochette et son partenaire David Gagnon annonçaient le début de leur programme de cyclocross “Specialized/CX Fever” dont le but était de se concentrer principalement sur le cyclocross. Depuis le début de sa carrière en cyclisme, Maghalie avait évolué au sein de l’équipe CLIF Pro Team, où elle courait tout aussi sérieusement en vélo de montagne qu’en cyclocross. 

Specialized/CXFever a connu une une bonne première année en 2018, où Maghalie et David ont remporté les titres de Championne Canadienne et de Championne PanAméricaine. 

Photo par Rob Jones

Photo par Rob Jones

Pour la deuxième année du programme, Specialized est de retour en tant que commanditaire principal de l’équipe. Maghalie pilotera le Specialized S-Works CRUX au cours de la saison de cyclocross. 

“Après un an à travailler avec Specialized, nous avons été très impressionnés par la qualité de leurs produits et l’efficacité avec laquelle cette compagnie travaille. Ils sont constamment en train d’innover. C’est très motivant, car en tant qu’athlète, j’ai vraiment l’impression de rouler le meilleur équipement possible. Honnêtement, la première année ne fût que positive, alors nous sommes très excités et reconnaissants de pouvoir poursuivre ce partenariat pour encore 2 ans.” 

Un des plus gros changements cette année sera l’ajout de Feedback Sports qui joindra l’équipe à titre de co-commanditaire principal. Feedback Sports se spécialise dans la production d’équipement d’entretien pour vélos, d’entraînement, puis de rangement. 

“Nous sommes très excités que Feedback Sports puisse se joindre à notre équipe en tant que co-commanditaire principal. En tant qu’équipe de vélo professionnelle, nous utilisons constamment leurs produits à toutes les étapes de notre préparation. Leurs produits sont essentiels à ce que l’on fait, mais ils sont rarement vus lors des courses. C’est donc encore plus excitant de pouvoir porter fièrement leur logo lors des courses.” 

“Par dessous tout, l’équipe chez Feedback Sports ont réellement la fièvre du cyclocross! Leur passion et leur enthousiasme pour le sport vont nous donner de l’énergie au cours de la saison, j’en suis certaine! De plus, je sais que la plupart des employés chez Feedback Sports regardent les course de cyclocross, alors de savoir cela me donnera une motivation supplémentaire lorsque je serai sur les lignes de départ!” 

En plus de Specialized, plusieurs compagnies ont décidé de poursuivre leur partenariat avec Maghalie pour une année supplémentaire. Parmi ceux-ci, comptons Roval, SRAM, Challenge Tires, Lizard Skins, EVOC, CLIF Bar, Oakley et Horst Engineering.

Quelques nouveaux partenaires se joindront aussi à l’équipe en 2019, incluant Sportful & Karpos pour les vêtements, XPedo pour les pédales, puis Muc-Off pour les produit nettoyants. 

“Cette année, nous sommes bien fiers de pouvoir représenter quelques compagnies Québécoises. Notre horaire moins chargé durant l’été nous permet de passer plus de temps à la maison et de s’impliquer un peu plus dans la communauté Québécoise. Ça fait réellement du bien! Et puis, lors des compétitions à l’extérieur du Québec, nous seront fiers de pouvoir parler de ces compagnies de chez nous!” 

Ces partenaires incluent la Bière Boréale, le Studio Powerwatts Nord, la firme de finance Partenaire-Conseils, la firme d’actuariat SGC Groupe Conseils, puis Les Restaurants ZIBO! 

Photo par Cycle Presse

Photo par Cycle Presse

Objectifs

Maghalie et David ont de gros objectifs pour la saison 2019-20, avec un calendrier qui les verra courir en Amérique du Nord autant qu’en Europe. 

“Bien que nous avions annoncé l’an dernier que nous voulions concentrer nos efforts sur le cyclocross, c’est seulement cette année que nous pourrons le faire véritablement. En 2018, lorsque nous avions fait cette annonce, j’avais déjà couru une saison complète en vélo de montagne, alors c’est surtout pour le futur que j’annonçais ce changement de focus. Par contre, cet été, mon horaire a été très tranquille ce qui m’a permis de m’entrainer spécifiquement pour le cyclocross, alors j’ai hâte de voir ce que cela donnera en compétition. Je pense que la différence se fera voir surtout en deuxième moitié de saison, là où je commençais toujours à sentir la fatigue dans le passé.” 

“Nous avons de gros objectifs pour la saison. J’aimerais avoir un bon début de saison en Amérique où je vais tenter de défendre mes titres National et PanAméricain. Mais cette année, c’est vraiment la Coupe du Monde que je vise. J’ai souvent terminé proche du podium, mais je ne suis jamais monté dessus en coupe du monde, et c’est définitivement quelque chose que j’aimerais accomplir!” 

Maghalie portera les couleurs de Specialized/Feedback Sports pour la première fois lors de la course UCI à Rochester, New York les 7-8 Septembre prochains. 

David, Maghalie, et leurs partenaires ont aussi comme objectif de continuer à répandre la fièvre du cyclocross partout où ils iront! 

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New team : Specialized/Feedback Sports

New team name. New Fever Alert. New branding. New colors. New partners. WHAAAAAA SO MANY NEWS!!!

It's been a very good summer and David and I worked hard to build a strong program for the upcoming cyclocross season. We have been blessed by the support we received, and we are very excited to share with you all the partners that will accompany us though this season.

First of all, we are thrilled that Specialized is coming back with us as a title sponsor. It has now been a year since we started working with Specialized and we have been mind blown by the quality of the bikes products (helmet/shoes/etc.) that they have been providing us. It's been very pleasant working with them because they truly strive to be the best, they are constantly innovating, and they are extremely supportive.

As an athlete, this is extremely motivating because I truly feel like I am riding the best available products, and I feel supported whether we are winning or struggling.

Through the season, I'll be riding the Specialized CRUX S-Works, the Evade helmet, and the S-Works Recon shoes. I'll also be riding with their gloves and socks.

The biggest change for the season is the addition of Feedback Sports who is coming on board as a Co-Title sponsor. Feedback Sports specializes in making cycling products for maintenance, training, and storage. You have probably seen many pros warming up on their Omnium Trainer, or many mechanics using their Pro Elite work stand. In fact, as a professional cycling team, we use their products all the time, and at every stage of our preparation. Their products are essential to what we do, but they are rarely seen in the actual racing, which is why we are excited to be wearing their logo proudly this season!

If you watch the races, you may also find David in the pits sporting Feedback Sports logos and using their tools!

Above all, the team at Feedback Sports have a stronger CX Fever than most people I have ever encountered (the owners are actually very strong cx racers!). I believe their enthusiasm and passion will give us a lot of energy and momentum during the season. I also know that most of the employees at Feedback Sports will be watching the races, and I feel like knowing that will be extra motivation for me when I line up to race!

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Other partners


Many partners are coming back this year, and some are new addition. 

  • Roval: This year, we will be running the Roval CLX50 Tubular wheels through the CX season. We will have 12 sets of tubular wheels for the whole season, and I'll also carry a set of CLX50 Rapide Tubeless wheels for training and warm up on the trainer.

  • SRAM: All my CX bikes will be equipped with the new SRAM Red AXS E-Tap groups. I'll be running a 38T or 40T chain ring, with a 12 speed cassette. I'll also be running Zipp bars and stem, as well as the Quarq power Meter.

  • Challenge Tires: Here's what our tubular set up will be: 2 wheelsets with Grifo, 3 Chicane, 3 Baby Limus, and 4 Limus.

  • Sportful: Our cycling clothes will be made by Sportful and we will also be wearing casual clothing from Karpos. 

  • Boréale: Post race celebration will be a courtesy of Boréale Beer. Boréale is a local brewery in Quebec and we are excited for this new partnership (you should be too - maybe you'll get beer from us!)

  • Nord: All the winter indoor training will be done at the Powerwatts Nord Training Studio at home in Quebec! 

  • EVOC: Bags, duffle bags, hydration packs, luggage, travel cases, wheel bags...Comfort in our travels will be made possible by EVOC!

  • Lizard Skins: I'll be running Lizard Skins bar tape on all my bikes. Depending on the time of the season (and thickness of the gloves) I'll be changing between the 2.5mm DSP and 1.8mm DSP bar tape.

  • XPedo: Flawless clipping in and out of the pedals will be possible because of XPedo this year. I'll be riding with the CXR Pro Pedals.

  • Muc-Off: Bikes will be cleaned by Muc-Off products (and David!) using their Clean, Protect, & Lube formula.

  • Horst Engineering: Having traction while running in the mud will be possible because of Horst Cross Spikes.

  • CLIF Bar: Snacks and fuel will be provided by CLIF Bar.

  • Partenaire-Conseils: Will be offering support on all fronts!

  • SGC: Will also be offering all kinds of support!

  • Restaurants ZIBO! : Post race meal, or pre-training block meeting will happen at ZIBO! restaurants in Quebec.

  • Oakley: Eyes will be protected and style will be given thanks to Oakley!

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