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Mackenzie Myatt’s In Defense of Big Dreams

Mackenzie is launching her first book with Strong Girl Publishing – a book of poetry and photography called ‘In Defense of Big Dreams’ designed to inspire girls in sport and in life. ‘In Defense of Big Dreams’ is available HERE5% of net profits are donated directly to foundations + non-profits bringing more girls into sport like Fast and Female.

Hi, I’m Mackenzie!

I’m an elite cyclist and author from Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia. I write about the idiosyncrasies of chasing excellence in sport and in life. For as long as I can remember, I have been writing poetry to process the world around me. I was a pretty shy, anxious kid and writing was the best way I knew express myself. In my teenage years, poetry became a lifeline for all of the things I couldn’t say out loud. Now, it is the best way I know how to share all of the things that inspire me.

I have been active and competitive for as long as I can remember. I was a gymnast for 10 years before I decided to commit to cycling. My U23 years saw several invitations to National Team projects, World Cup projects, World Championships, Top-20 performances in Europe and National Championship podiums in Canada and the US. Collegiate racing gave me the perfect environment to practice racing to win, an education and many cherished memories. I currently race whatever events excite me, no matter the discipline. I studied Writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design – Atlanta and graduated with a BFA in 2020.

I wrote In Defense of Big Dreams because I wanted to share what makes me tick and how to harness it. I want to inspire not just girls and women through sport, but everyone to act on their potential. It’s amazing what can happen when you consistently show up for yourself and take risks. This book came at a time in my life when I decided to stop taking the path of least resistance and trust myself. Something had to change and in that, I tried to change as many things as possible. I didn’t want to tweak the rules, I wanted to chuck them out the window. I hope this book inspires you to do the same!

Athlete & Artist:

I may have written one or two athletic poems in my teens but mostly not. The two things were always very separate sides of me, the sporty, competitive side and the part of me that loved books, writing, and playing with language. I always enjoyed being outside and being active, but it was rarely creative. I was a gymnast for a long time and there’s not much creativity there, it’s extremely structured. And being active, whether it was cycling or whatever we were doing in gym class was always just – how hard can you go? There wasn’t much thinking there. It was only very recently when I took ownership of my training that I really started digging into the mental side of sport and trying to figure out what was working for me and what wasn’t and why on a very personal level. I always look for a smile or a laugh, when I share my work.

How has writing changed your relationship with the sport?

It’s interesting because I started writing about cycling less than a year ago and it was a time of great joy but also of great frustration. I found myself noticing joy on the bike a lot more than I used to; I wrote about the act of writing and how joyful that can be too. I was also frustrated that it took me that long to 1) Start writing again. 2) To feel really strong on the bike again, and 3) to put both of those things together when now it seems obvious to combine my two favourite things. I used to think it would be too mechanical to write about cycling. There’s a fine line there, but overall it has made me more mindful of joy and therefore more likely to feel joy. It also helps me turn frustration into humour and be able to laugh at things. After all, it’s just bikes!

What advice do you have for girls about sport?

It’s not new and it’s definitely not unique, but have fun! And try a whole bunch of different things. There are so many different ways to ride a bike, people to ride with, surfaces – ‘disciplines’. I raced mountain bike, cyclocross and road in college and I loved it, but I still didn’t take cyclocross or road seriously. I didn’t really give either of them a chance. I thought I wanted to be a mountain biker and that I would always be one, that there was a clear path to a future there. I was wrong and I closed doors because I was ignorant. Be open to every opportunity! If something excites you, try it. That is currently guiding all of my decisions about cycling and it makes me feel like a kid again.