About Sara

Sara Byers is a Elite Canadian Provincial and National Champion in road and track cycling. Based in Niagara and racing with
Kallisto-FCV p/b Toyo Tires (Forest City Velodrome) and Canada's National Sprint Team, upcoming goals include
2015 Pan Am Championships, Track World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympics.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Elite Canadian Track Nationals: Dieppe, New Brunswick


Sprint Heat: Tara Whitten, Sara Byers
Photo by Don Ricker

The race season came to a quick and memorable close with another "first ever" in competing at Elite Canadian Track Nationals in Dieppe, New Brunswick. Any idea of what to expect came from riding and racing the Forest City Velodrome in London, Ontario over the past few months and watching our amazing women on the Olympic Track in London, England.

I am always trying to find my niche in cycling, the thing that my body is best made for. My goal in competition has been to go as far as I can in the limited time that I have. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and catching the cycling bug at 30, I look to countless women racing their strongest in the same decade of their life (and there are many!) for inspiration.

So, with a few race successes over winter and some great accomplishments (see August post) at Ontario Provincial Championships, off to New Brunswick I went with Team Ontario. Since I started racing and came to understand the world of sport and competition, I've watched many racers my junior climb the ranks and proudly don Team Ontario gear as they earn the honour to represent the province. I have to admit that up to the moment of receiving Team Ontario kit I didn't believe it was true. I'd won the provincial road series with top results in many races, and made podium in road championships and not qualified for projects due to age. I am so proud to have had the opportunity to race for the province.

A winning day for Team Ontario:
Track Coach Rob Good, Sara Byers, Joe Veloce, Candice Vermeulen
Photo by Mark Skene

The London, ON track is 138 metres and located indoors and so it feels and operates differently from the Dieppe, NB track which is 250 metres. The banking, track width and race distance markings are something to get used to and we arrived the afternoon before competition for a short training session to test it out. When competition started the next day I began waving down a helpful team coach before each event for a run down of the rules and specifics while warming up, and headed into some with one or no previous experience (!!). Goals for my first Track Nationals were to learn, gain experience, set personal bests and of course, dream goal: win!

It was cold, windy, hot, hotter, crowded, and jam packed with race after race, after race with elites and juniors taking turns to get 'er done. The "Memorable Moments" continued:
  • Placing first in the sprint qualifier and competing for gold in the sprint competition with Tara Whitten (winning one of the heats and placing second overall)
  • Gold in Team Sprint with team mate Candice Vermeulen
  • Seeing/hearing hometown Olympian and fellow Team Ontarian Joe Veloce on the track for the first time. Joe brought the thunder! BOOM!
  • Seeing a plan come to fruition - Candice gold, and silver for me in the Keirin
  • Countless star performances and podiums by Team Ontario in every category

You always want to win, but it was a learning experience to see how strong I was and how I rated against the country's best and some of the best in the world. I am confident and proud of the work that Dave and I have accomplished together again this year. It feels great to have real, measureable results of a year of hard work and focus. Satisfying! Before I get sentimental (I'll save that for another season's end post) I'll close with thanks.
You always want to win, but it was a learning experience to see how strong I was and how I rated against the country's best and some of the best in the world. I am confident and proud of the work that Dave and I have accomplished together again this year. It feels great to have real, measureable results of a year of hard work and focus. Satisfying! Before I get sentimental (I'll save that for another season's end post) I'll close with thanks.

Team Sprint Gold:
Sara Byers, Rhys Bateman-Team Mechanic, Candice Vermeulen

Thank you CCA for your superb organization in this year's track nationals. Thank you OCA for including me in this project and for the great support. Without your support I would not have been able to compete. Thanks Track Coach extraordinaire, Rob Good and to the amazing crew that you put together. Thanks team mates (and team mates parents!) for moral support and racing hard. Thank you members of the St. Catharines Cycling Club who provided equipment and training support, again, without your help I would not have been able to do this. Thank you to all of my teachers, mentors, and friends for your encouragement. And thanks Moncton and Dieppe for hosting!