Saskatoon cyclist Meaghan Hackinen has clocked many hours on her road bike in Saskatchewan, but she’s always wondered how far she could go in a 24-hour period.
The 33-year old found out last month when she participated in the 24 Hour World Time Trial Championships in California.
She racked up 733.8 kilometres – about the distance from Saskatoon to Banff, Alta. She and another woman broke the course record.
Hackinen, who was born and raised in Surrey, B.C., said she didn’t expect to make it so far when she started the ride at 5 p.m. on Oct. 26.
“I went in with a couple of goals,” she said Monday in an interview from her parent’s home in Kelowna, B.C. “The first was to stay safe. That’s always the No. 1 goal.”
She also wanted to qualify for the Race Across America, one of the most respected and longest running ultra-endurance cycling events in the world.
Hackinen said the cutoff to qualify for that race is about 595 kilometres, but she wanted to take it a step further and hit 400 miles – or 645 kilometres.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to do that,” she said.
But she had a good start.
Then her night went well.
“I seemed to be able to keep up my power levels,” said Hackinen, noting she stopped only to take bathroom breaks and reapply sunscreen in the 35 C heat of the day.
“I didn’t have anything slowing me down, I didn’t have any serious pains anywhere. I was just really enjoying myself. I felt really strong and empowered.”
Hackinen said she had no idea how well it was going until morning on Oct. 27 when her mom told her at a pit stop that she was in 10th place overall.
“I was 10th overall. That’s insane,” she recalled saying to her parents, who were her support crew for the 24-hour ride.
“There are 87 riders, there are men here who have wheels that cost more than my whole bike setup. There are professionals and semi-pros and people who are sponsored. How could I be in 10th place overall?”
Her parents didn’t mention how she was doing in the women’s division.
She was in second place.
Hackinen said she found out the woman in first place was about 10 minutes ahead of her from a crew member for a different rider about an hour before it ended.
“I raced as fast as I could for the last hour to try to chase her down,” she said. “I closed the gap to three-and-a-half minutes. That was my favourite part of the race.
“Just that competitive instinct came out. It was a lot of fun to finish like that – and just be completely exhausted and breathless and really proud at the end.”
While finishing second overall among women cyclists, Hackinen finished first in the women’s 30 to 39 age category.