Rider Profile: Maghalie Rochette
Interview with Maghalie Rochette by Tayler Rae Dubé
Photography by Luke Batten and André Chevrier
Every once and awhile, Luke Batten, the creator behind Tenspeed Hero, shoots me a text with an idea for PDF. He's the person who introduced me to Laurel Rathbun and gave me my first kit designed by Lauren Ayers. Most recently, Luke reached out to me about an amazing young racer. Their upcoming resort line is inspired in a way by this cyclist, not in that she is racing for Tenspeed Hero, or required to promote them, but rather that her upbeat personality, dedication to the sport, and overall charm are the qualities they love most in a rider. That young cyclist is Maghalie Rochette. A native to Quebec, the 22-year-old racer for the powerhouse LUNA Pro Team is unbelievably accomplished in both mountain biking and cyclocross. I cannot wait to meet her at the TSH Resort Launch Party this weekend in Chicago and think you will find her as wonderful as we do.
How did you get started in cycling?
When I was really young, my dad would often ride his bike. Naturally, I wanted to be like him, so he got me a little mountain bike and I would go out and try to follow him on the trails. I think that what I loved the most about it was that it made me a bit different from other kids, and I could play in the mud and hang out with my dad.
You have practiced a lot of other sports, what made you decide cycling was the one you wanted to stick with?
I was always really active. I remember the summer vacations as a kid when I was doing the mountain bike practice in the morning, than I went to play golf all day and my mom would come and get me to bring me to the soccer game in the evening. The next day, I was going to the triathlon practice in the morning and going straight to the karate class in the afternoon…In the winter, it was all skiing and swimming! I was about 9 years old, but I loved doing many things and it kept me busy - thanks to my parents for taxi-ing me everywhere! From about 13-17, I was focusing a little bit more on triathlon, but I got injured at some point and I stopped racing. For a full year (around 18), I was riding my road bike for fun and I did a couple of races for fun (adventure races, etc.) including my first ever cyclocross race. I had such a good time at the CX race, that I thought this was something I would like to do. The next year, I trained more with no serious goals in mind except to race more CX races - this got me hooked up and the year after (2013) I raced a full MTB and CX season.
What exactly got me hooked up is hard to say. Maybe the friendly atmosphere at the bike races? Maybe the challenging aspect of it and the fact that I could see a progression? Maybe the “freedom” it brought me to ride my bike and travel to places to ride? Probably a mix of all those things!
You are accomplished in both cyclocross and mountain biking. Do you consider one practice for the other? Or do you think about racing them equally? Do you have a favorite race?
Let’s just say that from February to August, I love mountain biking better, and my focus is on that. However from September to December-January, all I can think about is riding my CX bike. I’m lucky to be on a team that allows me to race both and be serious in both disciplines. I love them equally and could not imagine myself racing only one discipline.
What has your experience been like racing for the Luna Pro Team along side some amazing and veteran cyclists like Georgia Gould, Catherine Pendral, and Katerina Nash at such a young age?
It has definitely be a life-changing experience for me. I believe that you are the average of the 5 people that you hang out with the most. So being surrounded by such amazing people, at the time/age when you are transforming from a teenager to an adult has been an incredibly good influence for me - as an athlete as well as a person. I have learned a lot from them on cycling, but also on life in general and I will be forever grateful for that. I think we've become good friends now and I am still learning a lot and enjoying hanging out with all of them!
Tenspeed Hero recently announced you as the image of there new Resort collection. How do you think cycling gear companies can better sell to female cyclists and help advance the sport?
Yes, it’s been a fun experience to be the “image” of Ten Speed Hero’s new collection. It was a new experience for me to be a model, so it was fun. On LUNA, we are sponsored by CAPO, and we love their clothing because they have women specific design for bibs/jerseys/jackets and that makes a big difference for us, because the clothing is comfortable and we feel good in it. In my opinion, the most important thing for for cycling gear companies is to make good women specific fit gear. Even though it can sometimes be cool, I don’t think we need to have fancy design to enjoy the clothing, but it definitely needs to fit well and be comfortable.
In general, how could women's cycling be improved? What do you think individuals could do to help grow the sport?
That’s a really good question. I have to admit that MTB and CX in North America are really good for women - most races now have equal prize money and you also see the amateur women’s category having a lot of participants. They are not quite at the same level of equality in Europe yet, but hopefully it will come.
Do you have any specific goals for the 2016 season? On or off the bike?
2016 will be my first year racing in the elite category. Therefore, I see this year as a transition year where I want to gain experience in the elite ranks. I don’t have any specific goals, but I definitely want to improve my ranking and my riding in general. For CX, one of my dream is to do the Christmas week of racing in Europe, so we’ll see if 2016 happens to be the good year for that!
Off the bike, I always have many goals, too. Generally, I want to improve on my organization skills and become a better overall person - but I also have a lot of hobbies on which I want to work; improve my woodworking skills, take a few bread baking and cooking classes, make more CX fever products (t-shirts, socks, etc.) and keep learning stuff by reading tons of books, etc.
What advice would you give women just getting into the sport who may be interested in mountain biking or cyclocross?
I would tell them just a few things:
1: Have fun - It should be the number one goal.
2: Don’t be intimidated -it is way more accessible than it looks like.
3: You don’t need to race if that stresses you out. Just go out and ride, challenge yourself at your own rhythm. If you think of racing, maybe look and see if a local race offers a small clinic to pre-ride the course a few days before the race. This could help you feel more confident before your race.
4: Make it social! Invite your friends to train and ride with you and mix the ride with a little visit at the coffee shop or cool lunch place afterwards.
Finally, cycling is also the BEST way I know to visit and discover places - use your bike to travel and visit awesome unique places!!