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Europe Goes Mad for Maddi

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Learning to ride a bike on Lions Bay Avenue is a rite of passage for a lot of local kids. However, most of the cyclists who get their start in the village don't end up competing in Europe, for Canada's Junior Team.

Nevertheless, in Madeleine Pollock's case, that is indeed the route she cycled. Maddi is the granddaughter of long-time residents Doug and Sally Pollock, and spent most of her summers in the village where her dad grew up. (Doug Pollock was Mayor of Lions Bay during the Alberta Creek debris torrent tragedy, commemorated in The Watershed this month.)

It might be a long way from the North Shore to the Netherlands, but Maddi's bike has taken her there. She has just returned from representing Canada at the 2023 UCI Cyclo-cross Junior World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands.

Now that she's back from her European adventure, Maddi was kind enough to agree to an interview with The Watershed.

kc: Welcome home Maddi! What can you tell us about cyclo-cross? How does it compare to regular mountain biking?

MP: Cyclo-cross is a road/mountain bike/cross-country running hybrid. The courses are mostly on grass, which would be more similar to mountain biking, but then athletes are required to ride a bike that is much closer to a road bike. There are often parts of a course that are unrideable, like a set of stairs, so riders are forced to carry their bikes! It's a very unique and challenging sport.

kc: That sounds like equal parts fun -- and crazy. How long have you been involved in racing bikes?

MP: I started bike racing when I was thirteen. I began with road, then I tried cyclo-cross and mountain bike. I seem to gravitate more towards the off-road disciplines, as I find them more fun!

kc: What are your memories of bike-riding here in the village? Did you practice on Lions Bay Avenue when you were small?

MP: I remember riding a bike in Lions Bay when I was four or five years old, and many times since then. I have also done intervals up a few of the Lions Bay climbs!

kc: I've learned you've recently recovered from a pretty severe head-injury. Can you tell us about what happened last year? Where were you riding when you fell? And how are you feeling now?

MP: In February of 2022, I hit my head while riding on my local mountain, Mount Fromme, in North Vancouver. To this day I don't remember crashing. I didn't attend school for a month, and had almost a month off training as well. I spent four months trying to get back to normal, which was only possible thanks to an amazing support team including my coach, physio, and family. I'm feeling completely normal now, and ready to pick up some bigger training hours this year!

kc: I bet everyone on your team is relieved you're doing so well, Maddi. It's wonderful you recovered in time to compete overseas. What was the experience of riding in Europe like?

MP: Racing in Europe was a dream come true. It was definitely challenging as I had never competed at a World Cup level before, but I learned a ton, and now know what I need to work on for next season. The courses, crowds (40,000+ fans), and just general atmosphere are unlike anything we have in Canada.

World Championships was very special this year as my teammates, Isabella and Ava Holmgren, got first and second place. I got to witness Canadian history being made firsthand, and contribute as a team member.

kc: What an amazing experience for you. Can you tell us what you are most looking forward to next?

MP: I'm excited for mountain bike season to start! I'm going to be racing on the Canada Cup circuit with a goal of making the World Championship team at the end of the summer.

kc: A lofty goal for sure. Is there anything else you'd like to share with us today, Maddi?

MP: I'm super grateful for the support from the Lions Bay community! The village holds a special place in my heart, as I would often spend most of the summer staying at my grandparents' house. I have very fond memories of playing on the beach and in the trails.

Readers of The Watershed who are in the market for a bike can find Maddi working at Obsession: Bikes on Lonsdale Avenue in North Van. Thanks for sharing your time with us today, Maddi!

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Very interesting article. Great interview!

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