Sixteen year old Kelly Lawson of Craighurst, Ontario is getting ready for her third full season on the mountain bike. She represented Team Canada at the 2019 Cyclocross World Championships in Bogense, Denmark, and feels that the European lifestyle suits her quite well!
How was ‘Cross worlds?
Cross worlds was incredible. Just seeing how fast the Euro’s were and to be able to finish on the lead lap was a great learning experience! The fans were crazy and the atmosphere was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I can’t thank Cyclocross Canada enough.
Did you like racing in Europe?
Yes. It being my first time in Europe, I didn’t really know what to expect. The Hoogerheide mud gave me a new respect for the sport. Everyone was so fast! World Championships was even faster. The courses were epic. The whole experience makes me more excited and driven for the future.
What are your most notable results from 2018?
- 2nd at the Hardwood Ski and Bike Canada Cup (mtb U17 Cadet Expert)
- 1st at the Ontario Summer Games XC mtb event
- 4th in the C2 Elite Cyclocross race in Sherbrooke, Quebec
- 3rd at the Horseshoe Valley Canada Cup (mtb U17 Cadet Expert)
- 5th overall in the mtb Canada Cup series
Are you training anywhere warm this winter?
After worlds, I went to Girona, Spain for 3 weeks with Team Ontario. We pounded out huge rides daily. The riding was truly second to none. Simply incredible! I can’t wait to go back. I can confidently say that the European lifestyle agrees with me!
Who is your coach?
Who are your biggest role models and sources of inspiration?
Catharine Pendrel, Ellen Noble, and Katerina Nash to name a few and we can’t forget what Helen Wyman has done for young women in cyclocross as well.
Who are you racing for next year?
Team Hardwood Next Wave Cycling. Their support along with The Crank and Sprocket Bicycle Co and Stimulus Performance Training, makes race day a breeze. All I have to worry about is my race. I can’t thank them enough.
Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever raced?
I would have to say Canmore, Alta. at mountain bike nationals last year. The course was insane and I hiked up Ha Ling Peak after the race. I would also like to race in Lenzerheide, Switzerland one day!
Do you compete in other sports?
I used to race cross country skiing but now I just do it for fun and I teach young kids on the weekends when I can. When I was younger I tried school sports, but anybody who knows me, knows that I am petite and there wasn’t much call for a vertically challenged volleyball or basketball player. I also remember that for some of my earliest races, I was on a 24” bike, racing against 29” bike racers. I was just too small for anything bigger. Thankfully my size benefits me now on the bike!
What pointed you toward cycling?
Growing up 10 minutes from Hardwood Ski and Bike and 5 minutes from trails in every direction, it certainly helped. My dad started me riding the trails at 10 and I haven’t looked back. The cycling community here is awesome and the area is truly a cycling mecca.
What is the biggest setback you’ve experienced?
Last summer I crashed in warm-up before the relay race in Canmore. A sore hip along with the build up to nationals left me pretty worn out. One of the most important things Coach Rob has taught me is that rest is the most important part of training. Some rest allowed me to bounce back and have a great cyclocross season.
Are there any improvements you’d like to see to promote equality in Canadian Cycling?
I think cyclocross is making some huge steps for women in Canada. John Hauser put the women as the marquee event in both the Pan Ams and Nationals this year. That along with equal payouts makes for some of the best racing around. Maghalie Rochette is also a great role model for women in CX. I teach mtb skills to 7-10 year old girls on Team Hardwood Next Wave on a weekly basis. It’s pretty cool to be in the position to give back to the sport and help some girls get started with their cycling career.
What are your goals for this season?
With mountain bike worlds in Mont-Sainte-Anne this year, I would like to qualify to represent Canada. Also I would like to qualify for CX worlds next year as it will be the first year for a female Junior class! It’s so exciting!
Where would you like cycling to take you?
Around the world! I’ve had some great opportunities so far and met some incredible people. I can’t even imagine what the future will bring. Pro mountain biker or cyclocross racer has a nice ring to it!
What tips do you have for young cyclists?
Just have fun! If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth it. When you train always put in 100% and listen to your coaches. Last but not least, be grateful for any opportunity you are given. Thanking someone always goes a long way!
Some sound advice from Kelly! Looks like there will be a lot more Europe in her future, hopefully starting with the first ever Junior Women’s Cyclocross World Championships in 2020!
Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he will race with Trek Red Truck Racing.