By Richard Bell
Whoever’s running the athletic department at the Savannah College of College of Art and Design (the Atlantic campus) should be giving the school’s recruiters a nice pat on the back this morning for persuading Musquodoboit Harbour’s Mackenzie Myatt to enroll and join the school’s first cycling team.
Since she arrived in Atlanta in late August, Myatt has won almost every collegiate cycling race she’s entered. And to top it off, she finished third in the U.S. Collegiate National Mountain Bike Championship on October 22. We reached her by phone in her dorm a few hours after winning her first bronze medal of the weekend. (She picked up a second on Sunday as part of SCAD's relay team.)
Myatt was pleased about placing, especially given some very unusual weather conditions. “Today was pretty epic,” Myatt said. “It was snowing! There was snow on the ground. We knew it was going to be snowing, but it was still really crazy. -2 without the wind chill, and it was super windy.”
Myatt might have finished even higher if she had not had to start towards the back of the pack. “They base starting positions on how your school did in last year’s nationals. This is the first year SCAD has had a cycling team. So I had to start behind, even though I won every collegiate race I was in this year.”
Myatt is a ferocious competitor, even when she finds herself in last place. On October 21, she was in a short track race where her gritty performance took her from last place to 8th in a group of 45 women. “I had to stop after one lap,” Myatt said. “I had an insane amount of mud in my eyes. It was very painful, and I couldn’t see, so I stopped and squinted and tried to clear my eyes. I thought about pulling out, but told myself, ‘Let’s just try to finish the race, and not get lapped.’ And then I started passing people! In about 15 minutes, I had passed more than 30 women. That was a massive effort for the top 10!”
Myatt’s day is dominated by practice. “I usually finish class about 1:30 in the afternoon, and then we ride from around 2:30 to 5, depending on where we go to practice. Then I come back, do as much homework as I can, and on to the next day.
Whenever I see people playing video games or pool in the common room, I’m laughing—who the heck has time for that! Class, practice, studying, and eating!”
And eating is important, given all the racing: “I eat four meals a day.”
She’s excited about her courses. “I’m doing lots of drawing, and I just started painting,” Myatt said. “I’m learning completely new things from anything I’ve ever done before.”
The collegiate championships were the end of the mountain bike race season. “Now I can just focus on training, and not focus on race fitness,” Myatt said. “In the winter I’ll be doing some weight training too.”
And she’s looking ahead to her next big U.S. national race, the cycle cross championship that will be held in January in Connecticut.