Squamish cyclist hopes to go the distance | Squamish Chief

Squamish cyclist hopes to go the distance

Quest student Anna Talman to ride three endurance races in 2020

Once the snow melts, you may see Anna Talman and her bike on the Sea to Sky Trail or the Mamquam Forest Service Road — as long as you don't blink.

Until then, she'll be logging her kilometres on the training bike set up in her dorm room at Quest University, as the 23-year-old looks forward to three endurance cycling races this season.

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Last year, Talman joined the InstaFund La Prima racing team — one of two women's professional cycling teams in Canada, and the only one in B.C. Talman, who started at Quest in 2017 on an athletic scholarship, originally moved from Edmonton to B.C. to chase her dream of cycling professionally.

"The racing is at a really high caliber in British Columbia. The competition is really good," she said. "Getting an opportunity to race locally in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland really sped things up in a good way for my development."

Squamish makes for the perfect training ground for Talman, who competes in both road and gravel races. This year, she's using the alternative calendar, which she said is still new to the professional women cyclist side of the sport. While she'll still be racing some road races like the Canadian National Road Race Championship, she also plans to take her bike through more than 321 kilometres of terrain for the Dirty Kanza.

"It really complemented living in Squamish, because there's so many forest service roads, but not many [paved] roads to ride a bicycle aside from the highway and Squamish Valley, so I found it was a little bit better suited to my training being out here.

"I think it's going to be a good opportunity to get to know the Squamish area a little bit better," she added.

Anna Talman is getting into high gear for three endurance races this year. - Kalum Utley

The multiday ride through Kansas will take place at the end of May. At the beginning of May, she'll be riding in San Diego for the Belgian Waffle Ride (217 kilometres), with another race in Colorado this season.

What makes the Dirty Kanza unique is it's the same distance for men and women cyclists — and the same payout.

"That's really uncommon," Talman said. "In cycling, there's still some of this gender-gap wage bias you see. Women's sports are becoming better funded, but there is a gap between men's and women's sport. This event is really cool because that doesn't exist there. It's the same race for men and women and professionals and amateurs — you're all thrown into this wild scenario."

During the race, she'll be staying with local host families. Talman said she loves being able to see these rural areas of the U.S., where she otherwise may never go, at a slower (but not that slow) pace.

At this point, the longest Talman has cycled is around 180 kilometres. The Dirty Kanza is almost twice as long. What could be a daunting objective to some is "an opportunity to see how far you can go" for Talman.

"It is a good exercise in self-belief. Even though it seems so far away from what I've done in the past, I'm confident that I can do it."

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