Maghalie Rochette is a professional cyclocross rider from just north of Montreal. She has made a life of it, living on the road with her husband, coach, mechanic and agent, David, exploring roads and courses across the globe. She is a dreamer at heart and that has given her the ability to believe she can be amongst the best in the world. In 2019, she proved that her dream was a reality when she won the famous Jinglecross World Cup race in Iowa.
Robby met Maghalie and David for the first time in 2021 at The Vermont Overland, where Maghalie won. They are both kind and humble, and we are honored that Maghalie has chosen to ride with Bivo this year!
We asked Maghalie a few questions about her career, love of bikes and the next generation of Canadian cycling stars. Read the full interview below and if you ever find yourself meeting Maghalie, her excitement for life and bikes is quite contagious.
Can you tell us about how you started riding and what you love most about cycling?
When I was young, my dad was riding mountain bikes and I thought it looked fun to see him coming back home with mud on his legs and a big smile on his face. So at 7 or 8 years old I started riding with him and I liked it instantly. It’s hard to say what I love the most as it seems to change depending on what I’m focusing on. Sometimes, it’s pushing myself in races and winning battles. Other times, it’s riding big adventures and discovering new roads/trails…for me, there is no better way to explore places than on a bike, and I truly love doing that!
We like to say Fuel More Fun at Bivo because we believe when people are having fun, they perform best. How do you keep riding fun and is this an important part of training for you?
I agree with this 100%. Fun is a very important part of my training, maybe more so now that I am getting a bit older. But I think that “making training fun” does not mean the same thing to everyone, and even for me, does not mean the same thing at all times. Sometimes, what’s fun for me is to be extremely focused on a performance goal and doing every little thing I can, day after day, to reach that goal. I love this commitment…but I’m not able to have this focus all year long. Even if I try, my performance tends to decline. So at other moments in the year, fun for me means spending hours looking at the map and creating adventure loops, and then getting out on the bike to try it out! Variety is another key component that keeps things fun for me. I like to switch it up and ride my MTB sometimes, then my road bike, do some running, ride CX, then gravel, etc.
It’s a long answer, but I think the main thing for me is to listen to myself without judgment, and adapt my training accordingly to what feels right and fun, because what is optimal sometimes may not be optimal at another time…sometimes, the optimal thing may be what sounds the most fun and exciting, and not what you had originally planned!
You have had some really fun and bright bikes and kits over the past few years (we love your Rapha kit here at Bivo!). What impact does color and design have on your riding and racing?
Thank you! I just love colors! They make me smile and brighten my days! As for design, I’m not a designer at all but it always feels like a special opportunity to work with some really creative people on projects like the Rapha kits (or Bivo bottles!). Designers are geniuses in my eyes. I think if I wasn’t a cyclist, I’d do something where creativity is involved, because it’s one of the most rewarding and exciting feelings for me to create something or think up an idea and bring it to life.
It’s really cool to see an up and coming generation of women in Canada and you have clearly made a positive impact on them. We saw your logo on their jerseys this past season and I’m sure they have looked up to you throughout their years developing. What does that mean for you?
Whoa! That was truly an incredible moment to witness Isabella and Ava Holmgren achieving 1st and 2nd place in the Junior CX World Championships. First I want to say that the credit goes 100% to them and their family. I had nothing to do with it :) Canada has not traditionally been a cyclocross nation. There are some passionate volunteers who try and make the sport more accessible for Canadians, but that’s basically it. There is no path to follow or national team taking care of you. You have to figure it out on your own, which is what David and I have been trying to do over the last few years. Sometimes elite sports can feel like a selfish endeavor, but if the fact that I had some success makes another young Canadian athlete believe that they too can have success and pursue cyclocross? Then suddenly it makes my whole career and personal pursuit so much more worth it!!
As for the logo, David and I have been donating to the volunteer Canadian CX program for years and we try our best to share what we’ve learned to help the next generation; whether it be sharing course knowledge, contacts, any tips to make living in Europe better, etc. So having the logo on the girls’ chests when they won was pretty crazy and humbling. Just such a super cool thing really!
What advice do you have for young athletes, in particular, young female athletes, as they pursue their careers in their sport?
Don’t judge yourself, and be honest with yourself. I feel like the most progress you can make is when you can accept where you are, and move on from there, without judgment. In my experience, rarely does something positive come out of judging ourselves harshly.
And being honest with ourselves (about how we are feeling, about what is exciting to us, about how we are performing) is important to assess how we are feeling and making good decisions accordingly to be able to move forward.
In order to race at the caliber you are racing at, you have to have some serious drive. Where does that come from?
Good question! I think partly, it’s because I am a dreamer. And although it may sometimes be rooted in naivety, I often believe I can win or do something special, and that motivates me! Even as a kid, I somehow never doubted that I would achieve my goals…That said, this “dreamer mentality” has backfired a few times and can create very big disappointments. Dreaming is good, but it’s also good to live in reality haha!
So I think now, I try to tone things down a bit. I still dream big and the drive comes from the same place of wanting to be the best I can be, but I try to bring it back more to myself and concrete things I can do and control to get there.
Lastly, I’ll add that the drive ebbs and flows. I always love what I do and I always have a fire burning, but it doesn’t always burns intensely. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve figured out that I have to be focused and rested enough to find my biggest inner drive and thrive when it counts.
What is your first race memory? How did that race make you feel and do you carry that with you today?
I remember going to the races with my family and our friends. I remember that I was already very competitive back then. I was trying to not brake in some downhills or accelerate at the top of climbs and I thought those were my secret weapons! I think mostly though, above the actual races, I remember the good times we had there with friends and family.
I guess if there is something to carry from that is that, yes, the racing is fun and I love to find ways to get better every time. But over the years, what you really remember are not the results at all…you remember the experiences and the moments you created around the event. I think that’s a good thing to keep in mind, and perhaps can help me appreciate the small moments and special experiences.
When did you make the decision to go all in on cycling?
I did triathlon through my teens, but some running injuries forced me to leave the sport at 18. That’s when I discovered cyclocross, and slowly started mountain biking again. At 19, I decided to try and see if I could turn professional. David was already my boyfriend back then so he helped me to train and prepare for races. That year I got 9th at the U23 mountain bike World Championships, and was offered a pro contract for MTB and cyclocross. That’s when I decided to go all in!
You are from north of Montreal which inherently makes you tough in harsh weather! Do you like riding in the mud and cold? What conditions are your favorite?
Haha yes, I love mud and cold! I’ve loved cold and harsh conditions for racing since I was super young…I don’t know why but I feel like I can dig deeper and go harder in those conditions. They just don’t bother me at all when I’m racing. That said, I really don’t love hot weather for racing and training and my body really struggles in those conditions.
Sam Noel is wondering...Will we see any Bivo's on your bike at all this mountain bike or CX season in races?
Yes! You’ll see Bivo bottles on my bike at Sea Otter, and BC Bike Race...and maybe more MTB races! Then for cyclocross, I secretly hope you don’t see any bottles on my bike, because that would mean it’s scorching hot haha! But if it does become really hot, then yes, we may very well see Bivo bottles on my cyclocross bike!
Thanks for reading! Join us in cheering Maghalie on - follow her here!
Check out her website and super cool podcast here!
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