Canadian Cycling Magazine
A slew of successes on the road and track in 2021
In May 2021, road and track cyclist Maggie Coles-lyster left B.C., for the first time since the pandemic started and set up a home base in Salt Lake City, Utah. In her first five usa Crit Series races, she stood on four podiums. Winning the Armed Forces Cycling Classic set the tone for a solid season with highlights that included the Tulsa Tough (minus a crash in the second race) and Athens Twilight. “Both crowds are insane – it’s such cool racing,” she says.
In June, during a brief hiatus from the road, Coles-lyster took three silver medals at the Pan Am track championships in the omnium, elimination and points race. In August, she earned the best young rider jersey after the four-day Joe Martin Stage Race. The final usa Crit, the Winston Salem Cycling Classic, was an exciting way to end the road part of the year. Coles-lyster was second on Day 1 and won the race on Day 2. She finished the crit series second overall, while her squad, dna Pro Cycling, finished atop the team standings. In November, Coles-lyster’s story then began a new chapter, once again on the track.
Congratulations on winning the scratch race at the inaugural uci Track Cycling Champions League race in Mallorca and coming second in Lithuania.
How did you join the new league? What’s it like to be a part of it?
I was cooling down on the trainer (after worlds) and they came over to me and offered me the spot. That moment is one of my highlights of the year.
The track league is so neat because it’s not like there’s a World Cup or a world championship on the line. The whole point is to show how exciting it is to the general public. Everybody kind of seems on the same page. Also, because it is the champions league, there is a lot of respect among the riders. You can feel it in the race. People aren’t going to cut others off. There’s a lot of respect for the race and how it flows, which makes you feel safe. It’s exciting to be in a setting where there’s all that respect and all that flow.
How do you balance road and track?
Having open relationships with the national team and the road team has been pretty key for juggling the two. The calendars conflict a lot. It’s a matter of laying out what your priority event is going to be and having clarity on what you’re going to prep for on both teams.
You recently completed your 200-hour registered yoga teacher training. Does your riding benefit from your yoga practice?
I think there’s a couple of factors that benefit. I’ve barely been injured from training. A lot of that can be attributed to the amount of yoga I’ve done over the years. Even in crashes, besides bones breaking, I’ve never really had tears or pulled muscles. I think it’s because my muscles are flexible and used to being pulled and bent into weird positions.
A lot of the basis of yoga is breath work. Linking breath to movement, that was huge. I’ve always struggled with tempo efforts 30-minutes long. Any kind of time trial, I get distracted easily. I’ve struggled to find rhythm. Learning so much about breath work has translated into those kinds of efforts, helping me maximize my lung capacity. Breathing is such a big part of sport. A lot of people and coaches don’t put enough emphasis on breathing.
How do you deal with the fear of re-injury?
That’s an interesting question. Before my crashes in 2018, I probably would have said you just get back up. When you have a concussion, you hold onto that body-mind trauma.
A lot of athletes will just push through it. I’m working with mental performance coaches to stay on top of that. Crashes along the way happen. The odds of me shaking it off are probably not very high. Just naturally, the brain wants to react in the most protective way and that’s not going to allow you to win. I’ve had to retrain my brain to stop seeing me crashing and seeing me finish a race. I’ve dedicated a lot of work to that over the past few years.
Is your plan for next year to combine road and track again? Yes, I will be with dna Pro Cycling again next year for road. On the track side, I’ll be doing Nations Cups, but I’m not sure yet which ones. The Commonwealth Games will be big next year, as well as worlds.