Samantha (Sam) Hargreaves is a seventeen-year-old rider out of Calgary, Alberta. Racing started for her eight years ago with road and mountain biking, but she’s narrowed her focus to the road and track snagging third in the sprint event at the Junior National Track Championships last year. Although she aims to do well at track Nationals again this year and hopes to go to junior Worlds, she maintains that her favourite part of cycling is the many opportunities to explore that the bike presents.
Oliver Evans: What’s your favourite discipline?
Samantha Hargreaves: Track. I love how different it is to the other types of cycling and how it pushes you to really be one with your bike. Although track is my favourite, road racing is not far behind.
Are you training anywhere warm this winter?
I’m not going anywhere warm this winter to train. I have, however, gotten the chance to go to both the Burnaby (B.C.) and Milton (Ontario) velodromes to train and race this winter. This really helps keep the motivation up when I’m back home riding the trainer.
Who is your coach?
Richard Wooles from Peak and Valley Coaching. I started working with him about six months ago. Like Sarah Van Dam, I was fortunate to receive one of eight scholarships he offered to juniors aiming to ride on the national team. Since working with Richard I have noticed huge improvements in my riding and am very thankful for his guidance.
Who are your biggest role models and sources of inspiration?
Monique Sullivan has been one of my biggest role models as she is a two time Olympian for track sprinting and is also from Calgary, Alberta. When I first started cycling she often came on some of the youth group rides and I got to know her. Cycling is more of a male dominated sport and having Monique tell me about some of her experiences and how she managed cycling was very inspiring for me.
Who are you racing for next year?
I am racing for Bicisport Cycling Club. They have been big supporters in youth cycling and have given many opportunities to help youth progress in their cycling careers. They have played a major role in enabling me to travel to many track and road races to race against the best in Canada.
Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever raced?
There is a race in Penticton, B.C. called the Hayman Classic and it is one of my favourite races because the views there are amazing and it draws youth from all over Canada. So far I’ve stayed in Canada to race, however this year I hope to do some international racing.
Do you compete in other sports?
When I was younger I did many different sports however now my focus and passion is cycling.
What, if anything, do you feel has been missing in terms of support as you’ve developed as a cyclist?
I have been very lucky that I have received support from many people and organizations. I am sponsored by Argon 18, which has been a huge help with having some of the best bikes to ride on. I have also been supported by one of our local bike shops: Calgary Cycle. My team, Bicisport, and CBTL have also given me a lot of support to get to races and given me amazing teammates. My family and friends are also a huge part of my support as they are always cheering me on and pushing me to achieve my goals. It is a bit of a struggle to be able to compete at the same level as some of the other provinces that have an indoor velodrome to train and race on year round, however it pushes me to work that much harder.
What is the biggest setback you’ve experienced?
Last year I did not have the race season I was hoping for and I watched many of my friends and teammates achieve goals I had also set out for myself. Learning that a bad season happens and to use it to motivate yourself definitely helped me get back on track.
What is it about cycling that captivates you?
I love that performance in cycling goes beyond just riding your bike – it also requires a lot of awareness of your competitors. Having fitness is definitely a big part of how well you’ll perform, however riding smart and knowing your competition is also a big part of racing.
Is there any part of bike racing that scares you?
I think my love for cycling overtakes any fears I may have. While I’m racing or just simply training I enjoy all aspects of it and there’s no real fear of the risks.
Other than cycling, what do you do to find balance?
I am finishing up high school this year and it gives me a chance to step back and do something else. I also love to spend time with friends and family when I get the chance.
What sort of positive change would you like to see to improve opportunities for developing cyclists in Canada?
I think it’s great when cyclists share their experiences and challenges with upcoming cyclists. I think that helps the development of newcomers to the sport.
I’ve noticed that there may be fewer opportunities for women in cycling with regard to fewer team opportunities, less support and sometimes fewer races or lower prize purses. Have you experienced these discrepancies in opportunities for women?
In Alberta the number of women that bike and race is not very high. It is sometimes challenging to find the numbers to have separate women’s categories, which makes it hard for women within cycling to become competitive. This has started to improve over the years and I am hopeful that the number of women within cycling will continue to increase.
What, if anything, would you like to see to promote equality in cycling?
I think many organizations have done a good job in starting to promote women’s cycling more and increasing the number of high level races for women. I think a program that connects young female cyclist with more experienced female cyclist would help promote more females in the sport.
What’s one of the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn as a cyclist?
One of the things I’ve had to work on in cycling is knowing you can go into a race with a plan, but you can’t control what other riders may do and to be able to alter a plan mid race and not just give up. Sometimes it just takes a small on the go adjustment to get your plan back on track and not let yourself become discouraged.
Any tips for other young, ambitious cyclists?
Cycling can come with challenges but having teammates and friends helps not only with motivation but it also gives you someone to ride with. Finding someone who you can look up to or ask questions is a great resource to help you grow in the sport.
What are your goals for this season?
I am looking to do well and put out my best racing at Junior track nationals. I am also wanting to compete and do well in my local road and track races during the summer. My major goal this year is to make the Junior National team for Junior track worlds.
Where would you like cycling to take you?
My goal is to someday make it to the Olympics, but really just want to see where my bike takes me and do it for as long as I can and enjoy all the experiences that come with it.
What does a perfect day on the bike look like to you?
I love to get out on my road bike with no real destination or plan in mind. Riding has allowed me to explore so many different places and see so many different parts of the country. One of my favourite parts of riding is purely getting to explore places.
Some great insight from Sam! I love the idea of having elite female mentors to encourage the growth and development of female cycling starting from a young age. Hope to see you on Team Canada this year, perhaps exploring some international places on your bike!
Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he will race with Trek Red Truck Racing.