Michael Foley has missed a fair amount of school already this year, but has enjoyed a world-class education all the same.
It just hasn’t come in the classroom.
A promising cyclist who’s been dominant on the provincial and national stage, the 18-year-old Milton District High School student spent late summer and early fall in Europe — debuting at both the UCI World Junior Track Cycling and Junior Road Cycling Championships in Montichiari, Italy and Bergen, Norway respectively.
And the lessons didn’t stop during a three-week interval between these international competitions.
Not when you’re staying with an Olympic medalist and 11-time Tour de France participant.
“I really like Steve. He’s good at calming you down and when you ask him a question he’s always got a solid answer with an in-depth explanation,” Foley said of Steve Bauer, who first guided the local cyclist at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre and now resides in Belgium, serving as director of one of the world’s best racing programs. “He’s a bank of knowledge. And he really encourages education, which I like. He has a good idea of where it should fit in… that cycling can’t be 100 per cent (of your life).”
Foley’s world track cycling debut was highlighted by a ninth-place finish with Canada’s team pursuit, who’s 4:09 (approximate) performance set a new national record and was just a 10th of a second shy of qualifying for the quarterfinals.
He’d also fall just short of a national record in the individual pursuit — caught by the eventual champion from Denmark — and competed in the omnium and madison as well.
“I learned what I needed to,” noted Foley of the overall experience. “Just being in the environment of worlds in Europe (where cycling is far more popular). That exposure was invaluable.”
Things didn’t go quite so favourably a few weeks later in Norway, where he failed to finish the 140-kilometre course.
While able to continue after a crash around the 25-km mark — when his bike’s tubular fell off — Foley would get a flat tire about 15 km later and be forced to pack it in.
“It was disappointing, but these things happen,” said the well-round cyclist, who didn’t know he’d been accepted to the road cycling worlds until he was already over in Italy. “With the track cycling worlds at least I got something from it in terms of lessons, but with the road cycling it was frustrating because I didn’t really get that.”
Bauer and local coach Dave Jack have encouraged Foley to keep doing both types of cycling — finding them “mutually beneficial” — and as of now the young standout remains uncertain which sport he’ll ultimate specialize in.
Along with catching up on his school work, October will see him spending even more time at the velodrome than usual, as part of a national team training camp.
Interview by Steve Le Blanc, InsideHalton.com