6 SIGNS OF CYCLOCROSS FEVER
Rochette created the #Cxfever hashtag to describe how she felt about cyclocross. “Basically, the CX Fever is a feeling of high excitement about cyclocross – kind of an uncontrollable giddiness and happiness about going out to ride your ’cross bike,” she s
In South Africa, Rochette placed ninth in the under-23 category. Her fortuitous ride with Pendrel led to a spot on the Luna Pro Team – now called Clif Pro Team – where Rochette has been racing both CX and mtb ever since.
Rochette has fit right in with her teammates and refers to them as family. “Her sense of humour and generosity are a great addition to the team’s morale,” says her Clif Pro Team manager, Waldek Stepniowski.
Her teammates, like Pendrel, are equally effusive in their praise. “On the day of the 2014 world champs, I woke up with an email from her telling me all the reasons she thought I could have a great race. I was feeling really unconfident going in, still lacking confidence to put it together on the big day after the 2012 Olympics,” Pendrel says of the long-term effects of her disappointment in London. “Maghalie’s belief in me made me believe more in myself. That’s the sparkle a great teammate brings to a team.”
Teammate Katerina Nash echoes the sentiment. “Maghalie is one of the sweetest and nicest people I know,” she says. “We have some big age differences on our team and it’s so nice to have the young generation coming in with their energy and positive attitude.”
Rochette says veterans Nash, Pendrel and Georgia Gould have all been helpful and taught her something different. “We’re helping each other as much as we can,” Rochette says about that reciprocal generosity among
the team. “It’s kind of a cool structure and environment to be in.” She explains that she is one of four development riders on the Clif Pro Team and the goal is to get them all ready to perform when the others retire or go on to other types of racing.
Rochette’s first years on the team didn’t go as smoothly as she had hoped. She describes her races as a slap in the face after slap in the face. Gagnon remembers the time. “Learning to deal with the schedules, travel and high level of racing was very challenging. The results suffered because she was fairly new to mountain biking, but had signed to the best team in the world,” Gagnon says. “She felt like she needed to improve quickly and took a lot of risks in training and races. The first year, I think there was not a day where we didn’t put a bandage, peroxide or Neosporin on her.”
Despite Rochette’s setbacks, she has not lost any of her determination. Her innate self-motivation only seems to make her better. Gagnon says he never hears excuses from her, only solutions.
In 2016, a bad mountain bike season – one example: Rochette’s bike stopped working one minute into the World Cup race at Mont-sainte-anne – propelled her to focus on ’cross. That September, she suffered heat stroke and was carried carried away in an ambulance after the second day of the Rochester Cyclocross event. It took about a month to recover. Rochette decided to focus on nationals in Sherbrooke, Que., in early November, which she won. After, Stepniowski gave her his blessing to go to Europe, so she prepared for the cyclocross world championships in Bieles, Luxembourg. She placed fifth, the best-ever finish by a Canadian at ’cross worlds.
For her mountain bike season this past year, Rochette focused mostly on races in North America and feels she’s been more consistent with both her performances and results. Stepniowski, Gagnon, Pendrel and Nash all agree that the future looks very promising for Rochette. “It’s not an easy thing to combine both disciplines, but Maghalie is going about it the right way and successfully getting better at both at the same time,” says Nash.
When asked about one day competing in the Olympics, Rochette says it’s a dream and a goal. “One of the cool things about being on that team is – because they’re such rock stars – it’s allowed me to dream bigger,” she says. Rochette is on contract with the Clif Pro Team until the end of 2018, but hopes to stay on for as long as possible.
“Maghalie showed us at cyclocross worlds that she has a world-class engine and the ability to put it together on the big day,” Pendrel says. “She has a really smart approach to progressing in the sport, so I think we will see her take steps closer to the podium every year as all the pieces of training and racing fall into place.”
above Rochette celebrates at the 2016 national cyclocross championships
As soon as you close your eyes, you imagine yourself ripping up a cyclocross course. You have an uncontrollable, silly smile on your face when you think about the next race weekend. Everywhere you go in your everyday life, you can’t stop shredding corners and taking the best lines (for example, at the grocery store with your shopping cart). You might do a “jump over the barrier with your bike at your side” motion when you have to step over a curb while walking in the street. You are secretly hoping it will rain so you can go slide around and shred in the mud. When riding your road bike, you are always looking for a patch of dirt or short bit of trail. You suffer from the Monday morning, post–’cross race weekend hangover.
Rochette in Canmore, Alta., at the 2017 national XC championships