by Maghalie Rochette

Professional Canadian Mountain biker for Clif Pro Team, 5th World Championships 2017, 2016 National Champion and 3rd PanAmerican Championships 2016.

I was in the middle of making wooden salt and pepper mills when I received an email from Garneau telling me I would have the opportunity to create my own custom cycling kit. How cool is that?!

It was mid December, and I had just finished a big training block in preparation for some CX World Cups. I had a few easy days before flying to Europe and I always work on woodworking projects when I have easy days; it is a calming and fulfilling activity for me.

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Usually, when I train really hard, I don’t always have the energy to go out and build some stuff. But I am a hard core daydreamer (admittedly, sometimes a little too much for my own good!) so on long rides, between two reveries of me riding really cool stuff on my mountain bike or of being at the front of a big race, I love to imagine my next woodworking project.

So when I received that email from Garneau, it was clear to me that my kit would have something to do with woodworking. The truth is, I love creating things and artists are an incredible inspiration to me. The art of mastering a craft is something I deeply admire.

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Artists are a special kind of people. They work endlessly to pursue excellence in their craft, knowing they will never attain perfection, but nonetheless working relentlessly to achieve something that they will be proud of. Something that they will be able to call successful and that will bring them a sense satisfaction. But, this success is completely arbitrary; something that I might find beautiful may be ugly in the eye of someone else. Yet, that’s another reason why I admire artists; they are self-confident enough to believe that what they are doing is good, without being scared or discouraged by what others might say or think. 

Artists don’t follow trends; they follow their heart and their vision, usually being the ones creating trends. I think that’s cool.

Though as much as I like building and creating things with my hands, I certainly cannot call myself an artist. Woodworking is only my hobby, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look up to artists and strive to be like them! In a sense, sometimes I like to think I can approach cycling as a craft and pursue it as an artist would do.

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After all, there are many similarities between pursuing the craft of woodworking and cycling. In woodworking, many times I’ve been too focused on the end product. Too impatient to see what my wooden pen or salad tossers would look like when finished, I sanded too hard or forced my piece of wood too hard in the band saw just to see my project break to pieces. Bike racing is the same; if you focus too much on the result, you might forget to lift your front wheel to get over a rock and crash on your face in the last lap.

The two pursuits are very similar in so many ways and that’s why as an athlete trying to master my “craft” to the best of my abilities, I strive to be like an artist. I want to dream big enough to aim for exciting goals, but to be fully immersed in every step of the process to get there. And like the artist, I strive to do that by following my own instincts (and my training plan, of course!) and by not fearing outside judgments. And most importantly, by having fun with it!

Wiggle your big toe

If you have ever watched the Kill Bill movies by Quentin Tarantino, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s one of the iconic opening scenes of the first movie. The main character is sitting in a truck, unable to move her legs after a 4 years coma and she keeps repeating these four words to herself: “Wiggle your big toe. Just wiggle your big toe”.

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If you haven’t watched those movies yet, well, let’s be honest…what are you waiting for?!

On my first year on the CLIF Pro Team, I was the youngest duck of the pack by many years and I hadn’t seen any of the movies my teammates were talking about. So the team decided to take care of my movie education. We watched a ton of classic movies from the 80’s and 90’s and Kill Bill really struck me. I had a real woman crush on the character of Beatrix Kiddo (played by Uma Thurman). She was smart, fearless, pretty, and so freaking badass while still being fair. She became a role model for me; kind of like an alter ego. At the races, I started trying to channel my inner Beatrix Kiddo. A slightly more mellow version of her, though… I never intended to slice anyone’s throat or to slice anyone’s anything, for that matter! Not even a tire. I wouldn’t dare! Remember, as fierce as she is, B. Kiddo always stayed fair. But her fighting spirit is what I was after. If I could be as determined and as fearless as her, I felt like I could conquer anything.

That’s why I have a quote of her on my jersey. “Wiggle your big toe” is a reminder to channel my inner Beatrix Kiddo. That quote is also a reminder that, no matter how big and scary the task ahead of you may seem, you have to start by the first step and by doing the basics properly. Whether it be during a daunting interval session, during a big race, or while doing a complicated woodworking project, all you can do is focus on the things you can control and accomplish those steps one by one. A good reminder to stay in the present moment and to just “Wiggle your big toe”. Or do one more pedal stroke.

Back pocket

What’s in my back pocket? Well, of course there are always a few good snacks! But there is another special thing in the pocket of that particular jersey.

I decided to put something that was important for me. It’s a symbol of unity and of celebration. It symbolizes my team; the people I love, the people that support me, and the people who make this journey so enjoyable.

On the image, each segments represent people that are important to me and that inspire me; my family, friends, coach, team, and sponsors. However, this symbol unites all the segments to form a whole; to form a team. It’s a reminder that a group is much stronger than any individual.

Those people are pretty much the only reason I am able to pursue my dream and it’s very motivating for me to know that I have this strong group of people with me at all times. That’s why I wanted to have a small piece of all of them on my jersey. They make me happy and they make be a better person!