I guess opposites do attract – despite Micaiah’s obsession with sloths, her riding is the opposite of sloth-like. She’s nineteen and has been riding for the past three years. Before that, Micaiah was a diver, but that lead to some dark times, so she decided to dive into cycling instead. In her first three years of riding, she was on Canada’s junior women’s squad that snagged 7th in the Team Pursuit at the 2018 Junior Track World Championships.

Micaiah Besler
Image: Bas Hobson

What’s your favourite discipline?

My favorite discipline is track. I really enjoy the fast pace of the racing. I also enjoy road racing, but I have not been able to do a lot of that yet.

Are you training anywhere warm this winter?

I’m from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but I recently moved out to Victoria B.C. to pursue cycling. It’s a lot warmer here than back in Saskatchewan!

Who is your coach?

My coach is Houshang Amiri. He has coached me since I started cycling and without his guidance I definitely would not have done as well as I have. He’s an amazing coach with lots of  knowledge and is just a great person.

Who are your biggest role models and sources of inspiration?

My older sister, Keisha who is a triathlete, is a hard worker who has had to overcome many injuries and the difficulties that come with them. Her persistence to never give up is very inspiring and she always tries her best no matter what. She is also a very kind and caring person who is a wonderful teammate to everyone she trains and competes with. My younger brother, Josiah, is a gymnast who has had to deal with team mates who haven’t treated him very kindly. Even though they have been mean, my brother tries to be the best teammate he can be and is continually trying to help or encourage the rest  of the boys. He’s an independent, hard worker, and he inspires me to be kind to everyone.

Who are you racing for next year?

I am racing for Glotman Simpson cycling.

Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever raced?

Racing in Italy in 2017 at junior track worlds was awesome. I really enjoyed the racing as well as the riding around Montichiari.

Switzerland last summer at junior track worlds was also very nice. It was very pretty with loads of beautiful views. It’s quite hard to choose between the two places, but I think Italy has been my favorite.

Do you compete in other sports?

Before I started cycling, I was a national level diver for seven years. My best event as a diver was platform. I starting cycling as soon as I stopped diving, and since then I have attempted to run cross country in high school twice, but it appears I kind of forgot how to run.

What, if anything, do you feel has been missing in terms of support as you’ve developed as a cyclist?

I am very lucky to have very supportive and amazing parents who have been able to support my cycling, and I have an awesome coach who has helped me become the cyclist I am today. Other than living In Saskatchewan and the challenges that come with it, such as no velodrome, living far from your coach, having to travel to most races, and the winter, I have been well supported the last three years.

What is the biggest setback you’ve experienced?

In cycling it has probably been living in Saskatchewan and how it limits my ability to train and race. As a person, my biggest setback has been dealing with a mentally and emotionally abusive coach in diving which is why I’m cycling now, so it was a setback but it also led me to discover the great sport of cycling.

Is there any part of bike racing that scares you?

Crashing scares me a little bit and it has definitely prevented me from being as aggressive as I need to be at times, but this is something I plan on improving.

Other than cycling, what do you do to find balance?

I am currently going to school online through Thompson Rivers University. I also love reading, and currently I live with my sister and so we try to hang out and do things together like going for a hike which helps both of us find balance.

What’s something interesting about you that few people know?

I am obsessed with sloths!!!! I just love them. They are strange and adorable creatures. I have a collection of stuff stuffed sloths, sloth socks, sloth slippers and sloth mugs in the corner of my room! Seeing a sloth in person and petting one is definitely on my bucket list!

What sort of positive change would you like to see to improve opportunities for developing cyclists in Canada?

I think more opportunities to race against other juniors from all over Canada would be great.

What, if anything, would you like to see to promote equality in cycling?

More races and more teams for women in North America would be great.

What’s one of the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn as a cyclist?

To trust myself and to do the best I can in any situation. To not to dwell and worry about things out of my control because sometimes things happen that you can’t control and you just need to do the best you can.

Micaiah Besler
Image: Michel Guillemette

As a Prairie kid myself, the winters and topography really frustrated me during training, not to mention the fact that you essentially have to travel to race. How have you found these challenges and worked with them?

I definitely found winter training to be quite difficult with having to ride the trainer for 6-8 months of the year, but it does make me appreciate being able to ride outside even more. I have great parents who have sent me to numerous races out in BC and to Milton for track events. Although it is very expensive so whenever possible my parents have done the crazy drive from Saskatoon to Penticton and even Burnaby, sometimes all in one day! I had to always pick and choose which races were worth the cost of doing them and it limited the number of races I have done. I also missed over eight weeks of my last semester of high school as well as graduation. I missed so much school some people forgot I still went there!

Are there any hidden gems for riding near where you live?

I am very directionally challenged. I can get lost going in a straight line sometimes! Since I only moved out to Victoria this last October, I have just mostly stuck to routes that I remember enough to get back home but I do enjoy the places here that I’ve ridden.

Any tips for other young, ambitious cyclists?

Have fun and try to ride with people. It makes it much more enjoyable! Also, learn all that you can from other cyclist around you!

What are your goals for this season?

I want to gain a lot more road racing experience and become a better road cyclist. I would also like to improve my track racing as well.

Where would you like cycling to take you?

My ultimate goal is to go to the Olympics. I want to become the best cyclist I can, wherever that leads me.

Well, now I know who brought the snow to Victoria this winter! I think we’ll start a petition to have the next track worlds hosted somewhere with sloths for you. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with diving, and how you’ve managed to steer that into a positive direction! I’m stoked to see that you’ll be based on the coast now, a little closer to racing opportunities and your coach!

Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he will race with Trek Red Truck Racing.

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