Maple Ridge cyclist chosen as a hometown hero

Maple Ridge’s Maggie Coles-Lyster is a professional cyclist and member of Team Canada who is just entering the prime of her promising career.

Coles-Lyster races in both track and road cycling. She’s traveled all over the world to compete, but when you speak with Coles-Lyster, you meet a young woman who loves her home town of Maple Ridge, and is genuinely honored to have been named a Hometown Hero.

She will be one of four athletes honored at the annual Hometown Heroes Night – when some of the community’s greatest athletes are honored – being held after a two-year absence on Oct. 12 at Garibaldi Secondary School. Brian Malfesi and Sara Hopkins are the 2020 inductees, Coles-Lyster for 2021, and Jaycee Affeldt for 2022.

In August of 2017, Coles-Lyster became a world champion for the first time, winning the junior points race at the world track championships in Italy. She had won silver in the omnium just the day before, and the win made her Canada’s first-ever junior world champion in track cycling.

The teen’s win was likely no surprise to people who had watched her ripping around the dikes and roads of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows in races put on by her father and coach Barry Lyster. He owned Local Ride Racing, and has been putting on well-run local cycling races for many years.

“I was born into cycling,” summarizes Maggie.

Her father was her coach from early days, but not a taskmaster. Maggie had a desire to win that was all her own.

“He never pushed me, and so I just had fun with it,” she said. “I’m an extremely competitive person, and it’s a perfect outlet for me.”

She’s now a member of the DNA Pro Cycling Team, and based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She competes in road racing events across North America. They compete in criterium races, which are mass start events, where riders do multiple laps of a closed road course. In some cities, big crowds come out and line the streets to watch the racing.

In May, she got a satisfying win at the Joe Marten Stage Race in Fayetteville, as she won a dramatic finishing sprint against an arch rival.

“To get a win at that level was super exciting for me,” she said.

The big wins keep coming.

After the 2017 world title, in 2018, Coles-Lyster added more career highlights, as she competed at the Pan American Track Cycling Championships, and finished third in team pursuit.

Then came two silvers at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Peru. She and Miriam Brouwer took second in the Madison relay race, and the Maple Ridge cyclist also won silver with the women’s pursuit team.

“Representing Canada, and having the whole nation cheering for you, is so special,” she said.

Long-term, she is working towards qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“And I could see myself staying in it, and working towards the next two or so Olympics.”

Coles-Lyster has raced in the up-and-coming UCI Track Champions League, and expects to be involved in the invite-only event again this year. It brings together the top 18 male and female endurance riders and sprint riders.

It was a new racing series that debuted in 2021-2022 as a partnership between Discovery Sport Events and the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale). The Champions League bills itself as re-imaging what track cycling can be, featuring the best riders, with high stakes and a huge audience. The circuit features simple racing formats. There were races in England, Spain and Lithuania, with an event in Israel being cancelled.

“That was so exciting,” said Coles-Lyster of the races, which drew crowds of up to 6,000 to the indoor tracks to watch.

“We’re trying to create fan bases, getting hype for cycling, and getting the audience engaged,” she said

Promoters say the winners of the Track Champions League will become sporting stars, and that could be in Coles-Lyster’s future.

She won the first-ever final in Mallorca, Spain, and finished the series fourth overall, based on points awarded for results in four races. The women who finished ahead of her are all world champions and Olympic medalists.

Two of the riders who finished ahead of Coles-Lyster have since retired, she noted. Some top racers are in their 40s, while she is just 23. So Coles-Lyster expects she will still get faster.

“I think I still have some development happening,” she said.

Maybe it’s because she’s seen the world that Coles-Lyster appreciates returning her hometown so much.

“I definitely enjoy coming back home. My family is still in Maple Ridge, my grandparents, and I love doing some nice, long rides,” she said.

“I have the Golden Ears Mountains tattooed on my ribcage. I wanted to take it with me.”

For all her trophies and awards, Coles-Lyster is proud to be named a Hometown Hero in Maple Ridge.

“It means a lot. I remember going to the Leisure Centre, and looking up at the Hometown Heroes, and wondering if I would be successful enough to be nominated as a Hometown Hero.”

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