Maggie Coles-Lyster, 14, of Maple Ridge was flying her Local Ride Racing team colours at B.C.’s biggest cycling event and her first elite level competition on Wednesday evening, the Gastown Grand Prix.
There were thousands of spectators cheer on packs of international-calibre cyclists on a short, fast, and cobblestone-strewn course in Downtown Vancouver’s historic Gastown district.
“I’m really excited about racing Gastown,” said Coles-Lyster before the race.
She had watched cycling idols, like Pan Am Games gold medalist and Canadian Team member Steph Roorda, race furiously around the 1.2-km loop last year when the renowned event returned in 2012 after a three-year hiatus.
Maggie unfortunately did not finish the event, but was on to another race in Burnaby on Friday afternoon – the Giro di Burnaby Criterium.
Even though Coles-Lyster is only 14 years old and several years away from meeting the age requirement for racing in the senior pro/elite category, she received special permission from the province’s sport governing body, Cycling B.C., to compete in the top women’s category for B.C. Superweek, a week of high-level road cycling competitions in the Lower Mainland, of which Gastown is the centerpiece.
“I’m really pleased that Cycling B.C. gave Maggie the go-ahead to race at Superweek,” said Coles-Lyster’s father and coach, Local Ride Bike Shop owner, Barry Lyster.
“There’s a positive new climate in the organization and it bodes well for the future of the sport in B.C.”
When asked what her race plan will be, Lyster said: “Maggie [Coles-Lyster] is approaching Gastown just like any other race. She will go in it to compete, just like she does with every race she enters.”
Even though she is not a favourite to win it this year, the learning she will gain from the experience will be invaluable in her future competitions. And the way things are going for the motivated young athlete, chances are very good that Coles-Lyster will win the Gastown Grand Prix one of these years in the not-so-distant future.
• More information about B.C. Superweek here: http://www.bcsuperweek.ca/