Yukon mountain biker Mara Roldan has made the Canadian national team and will compete in the mountain bike world championship’s Junior Women cross country race in Val di Sole, Italy on Aug. 26.
Roldan, 17, qualified for the national team after posting strong results at the Canada Cup races in Quebec in July.
Having only taken biking seriously for four years, Roldan already has an impressive cycling resume. At the 2019 Western Canada Games, Roldan became the first Yukon female cyclist to medal, coming in third.
Although her competitive career is still in its early phases, making team Canada has always been a goal for Roldan.
“Seeing older girls when I was younger represent Canada, I was like I want to be like them one day,” said Roldan from Italy. “I’ve worked very hard and achieved my goals.
“This being my first year it could have not been achievable because I was in the younger age category, but, I managed to qualify and hopefully I manage to do it again.
At 17, Roldan will be one of the younger athletes in her age group, U19.
Long before Roldan made the national team, she took a trip to Europe to gain race experience.
“I came to Europe by myself for race experience and had crashes and bad race experiences,” said Roldan. “I came out of that trip having gained so much experience just watching racers race and seeing how it’s done here. It’s completely different.
“This year is more about preparing myself mentally, physically and experience-wise.”
She arrived in Italy on Aug. 22. She was in Switzerland beforehand doing a tune-up race, something she said she’s thankful for.
“It was a rough race for me,” said Roldan. “It definitely wasn’t my best day, I didn’t feel as physically strong as I would have wanted to but any race, even if it’s bad, is a good experience.
“I can always take something out of it that I could work on and it’ll help me for my next race.”
Roldan said the quick turnaround between the Switzerland event and the world cup race is short, and she’s still recovering, but she will be ready to go.
When race-day does arrive, Roldan said she’s expecting stiff competition.
“The European girls, the French and the Germans are incredibly strong,” said Roldan. “In Canada, a race would be like 20-25 of us but here there’s 75-80 so it’s completely different.
Doing her training in the Yukon, then in the Squamish, British Columbia area, means she’s trained on world-class mountain bike trails, said Roldan.
“Canada has amazing trails,” said Roldan. “Fun-wise, doing trails in Canada I feel like they are better than here. I don’t want to brag, but our country’s trails are pretty awesome.”
Aug. 24 was Roldan’s first day on the course and said her fellow Canadian teammates have all been supportive of each other.
“Having the support team, mechanic in place, your physio and massage therapist and teammates here makes the whole thing easier,” said Roldan. “I can focus on what needs to be focused on and set my priorities on what I need to do.”
Roldan thanked all her coaches, friends and family who helped her get to this level of cycling. And said she’s grateful to the Yukon community who has always cheered her on.
Contact John Tonin at firstname.lastname@example.org