The 2015 Pan American Games were my first ever international games. They wrapped up this past Sunday in Toronto and I managed to come away with a gold and bronze.
My main focus for the games and why I was selected to the Pan Am team was the team pursuit on the track. We knew going into the event that the Americans, with a revamped team, would probably be our biggest threat and come out with a good ride to put pressure on us. We knew, that going into the first ride we just needed to ideally be seeded top two so we could build into the tournament to have the best ride in our final round where we hoped to be top two. Everything went as planned, and we ended up facing a strong American team in the final. We rode one of the better races that I’ve ever been a part of and one of the smoothest, managing to come across the line first and take the gold. It was really amazing to do it in front of a home crowd with a lot of our friends and family in the crowd, including my Grandma! The atmosphere and reception in the track and from the surrounding area about the Canadian track team was definitely one of the highlights of the games for me. Also, just a side note that the entire track team cleaned up at Pan Ams with every track athlete winning at least one medal along with the track team taking six gold medals and winning a medal in every event, except one.
My second event, the road race, came about a week after the team pursuit which allowed us to take a bit of a break and come down from the excitement of the track. The road race took place in downtown Toronto racing five laps along the flat lakeshore, before turning up and doing a loop through High park and the neighbourhoods around there adding some punchy hills into the course. Coming into the race we knew Cuba would be the team to beat having gone 1-2-3 at the previous Pan Am games with a very similar team. As a team, they’re known to be pretty strong sprinters so we wanted to make the race hard and try and force a break. From the first lap through the park, Canada was aggressive, but we were also being watched by a lot of the other teams and nothing was really managing to get away. We kept at it until the third lap where Jasmin managed to get a gap on the group before a Cuban rider bridged up to her and the two of them started to work together staying away until the finish. Jasmin forced the Cuban to lead out the sprint and then kicked around her in the last 200m to finish it off for the win. Behind her, my teammate Kirsti Lay and myself were trying to cover any moves and to go with anyone trying to get away or bridge across while also trying to just sit in the peloton and conserve energy for the finish. The race stayed pretty fast and hard with people always trying to jump away to get back in the fight for the gold medal. However, the group stayed together to the line and it was a sprint for third. Kirsti gave me a great lead out through the final few corners and towards the line until the two Cubans opened up the sprint and I dropped over to their wheels waiting behind them and then kicking around at the line to claim the bronze. Overall, the race played out as we hoped and coming away with a first and third on the day was definitely a bonus to the trip.
On a side note congrats to Red Truck on a very successful Superweek! It really is one of my favourite times of year and I was really disappointed to miss it. But, I made sure to stream Gastown to see Denise take a lap and the win!
I would just really love to add a note about how good Trek Red Truck Racing has been to me over the past three years that I’ve ridden with them. For those that don’t know a large part of my riding focus is dedicated to the Canadian Women’s team pursuit program on the track; during these programs and at events like the Pan Am games, there are very tight sponsor restrictions and I must always be in Canada gear and can’t give Trek very much publicity. Despite this, Trek Red Truck has been so supportive of my endeavours on the track even though it takes a large part of my time away from being able to train and race with the team. They truly are a team that always has the riders’ best interest at heart and they really don’t receive enough recognition for that. So I know I don’t say it enough, but thank you to you all.