Timeline – 1988 to 1992
Saw speed skating and the Olympics on TV by chance. Was bored and planning for a party that night and found herself mesmerized by what she saw. Knew this was what she was going to do. Quit smoking, partying and went back to school (it had been a few months…) and turned F’s into A’s because all she wanted to do was travel to Saskatchewan for a skating competition.
First winter racing. Won a silver medal at the National Championships on ice in the 800m mass start event.
Recruited into cycling by Coach Mirek Mazur. Home province of Manitoba had a grant to give some girls a chance to try bike racing. The Western Canada Games were in Winnipeg, Manitoba that summer. Invited to her first cycling camp in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She was the girl who could hang onto the pace of the guys the longest. On the drive back to Canada, Mirek convinced her to hang up her blades for ‘a few years’. He told her she could be the world champion and win the rainbow jersey, perhaps wear the yellow jersey (in the Tour de France). Knowing nothing of rainbows and Tour de Frances, let alone yellow jerseys, she took a chance and gave it a go on the bike. Won $800.00 in her first big race. Motivation, indeed.
Won five medals at the Western Canada Games (4 gold and a silver) on the road and track, and then won three gold medals at her first ever National Championships on the track. Not bad for a rookie.
First ‘pro’ contract. Got a bike, some cool swag, travel and entry fees paid for by the Specialized-Pedal Racing Team. She moved away from Winnipeg to Hamilton, Ontario to keep Mirek Mazur as a coach. He had just been named Ontario Provincial Coach. Left home at almost 19 and never looked back. Supported herself through multiple small-town criterium races in Ontario and a small monthly stipend from the Canadian Government. First International competition representing Canada: Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba. Won the bronze medal in the team time trial and a silver on the track in the individual pursuit. Remembers eating way too much ice cream and under-performaing on the track. Pulled foot out of the pedal at the start of the individual pursuit. Although this could be a good excuse for losing gold, she knew this was a lesson that would come in handy in the future: focus is everything; without it, potential will never be reached. Another Nationals on the track and more gold medals ended her first full season as a road/track cyclist.
Disaster. Qualified for the Olympic trials on the track and went to Europe for the first time. Spent a month training with the sprint team and made the rookie move of eating so much good German food and came back ten pounds over weight and as slow as a turtle. Finished third out of three riders who had qualified for the Olympic Trials. Demoralized, to say the least. Time for a new focus. Took a hiatus from the track to race the road. Did her first stage race in Idaho: a 14-day tour that had some of the best riders in the world. After shedding the strudel weight, finished in the top twenty in the final time trial of the Idaho race. She only saw the front of the peleton once in the entire race but was hooked on road racing. Went on to win her first National Champion title on the road that summer, falling off her bike unconscious from the effort after a 60km solo effort. Won gold in the team time trial as well. Did her first European stage race, the European Economic Tour: a ten-day race she ended in tenth place overall. Last race of the season was the Japan Cup race, ending in victory despite crashing on the last lap. Won two small bars of gold in that race which still sit in her safety deposit box.