This year was special because for the first time the PanAm Championships were in Canada

by Maghalie Rochette

Pan American Championships
The first Championship race of the season. The first chance to win a special jersey. The Pan American Championships is where the champion of the American Continent is crowned. That always brings a lot of excitement, because everyone wants to win the honours.

This year was particularly special because for the first time, the PanAm Championships were in Canada.

Saturday’s Race:
Our plan was to use the Saturday race as a tune up for the Pan American Championships of Sunday. Good thing we had this race as a preparation, because I was a total disaster that day!

I forgot my race bag at the rental house. Then I did a very unnecessary and sketchy pass 2 minutes into the race, which led me to crash on my own. I dropped my chain in the crash. By the time I got the chain and myself back on the bike, I was super far back. I chased, I flatted, I chased again, making plenty of mistakes… Somehow, I managed to finish 3rd and I attribute that placing solely to the fact that I oddly stayed extremely calm. I did enjoy slipping and sliding in the mud though :)

On to the big race…
Back in 2014, the Pan American Championship of Cyclocross was introduced for the first time. Back then, I was an U-23 and because of the way the schedule was made, the U-23 Women was the first race of the day. And so when I won the title that day, historically, I became the first ever Pan American Cyclocross Champion. I always thought that was pretty cool.

Today, I had 1 goal. That goal was to repeat, but in the Elite category this time. To achieve that, I knew I had to do the opposite of yesterday…which means, I’d need to bring my race bag to the race and have a clean race. However, I was also going to have to stay calm and be patient.

A few years ago, the only way I knew to win a race was to go to the front from the start and grind it out until the end. Nowadays, though, I realize that you only have to be first when crossing the finish line. I had that in mind today during the race. It doesn't matter by how much you win...especially for a Championship race. You just want to cross the line first. Defending champion Katie Compton wasn’t racing this year because she is already in Europe, so the battle ended up being between Ellen Noble, Kaitie Keough, and myself.

It was pretty tactical; we were staying together and testing each other from time to time. I pushed it in a long staircase and managed to get a little gap, which I extended going into a technical section. Ellen ended up coming back to me, and when she did, she tried to pass me and crash doing so. That mistake allowed me to open a gap again, which I kept on the last lap until the finish. I was really happy to take the title! The best part of the race, though, was the energy that we could feel out on the course. Canadians have the FEVER, and today, they truly showed me that they did. Throughout the course, their screams gave me energy. I heard them shouting "Ma! Gha! Lie!" and that was really special. I have never seen so much enthusiasm for cyclocross in Canada, and I felt lucky to be a part of that. It made that win so much more special.

Excited to do it all over again next weekend at National Championships!!

David is now driving 7h back home as I sit next to him, writing this and being a very useless co-driver. Yes, he is amazing. :)

**At this very moment, we are even listening to a Celine Dion song...I feel so Canadian! haha

>MECHANIC'S TIP : No freezing water

This weekend was cold! But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to wash the bikes…it was actually the opposite with all the mud on Day 1!! Washing the bikes means you need water, and not ice. To make sure the water doesn’t freeze in the water tank, David adds Windshield Washer liquid to the water. It doesn’t harm the bikes, and it keeps the water in a liquid state in freezing temperatures.

If you are interested with his bike washing system, here's how he made it: He bought a 35 Gallons Horizontal plastic water tank. He leaves the tank strapped in the bed of the pickup at all times. Then, he plugged a hose in the tank with the necessary fittings and when he needs it, he plugs the pressure washer in the hose. That system provides enough water for a full day of muddy racing!

Finding your "Favorites"
Bike racing is like a circus. We move from ta city to another to follow the events. Year after year. Same people, same races, same places.

Sometimes, around the race venue, you find a place that you particularly like. A good restaurant, a good coffee shop, etc.

So instead of starting anew every year, here’s my trick to remember the good places: “Favorite” them on your phone’s Google Map app.

• Next week: National Championships: November 10th in Peterborough, Ontario.
• November 12th: Leaving for our 3 months trip to Europe!!!

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