Team Roster

Photo Credit: Jody Wilson Photography

Ali VanYzendoorn

My name is Ali and I am an 19 year old cyclist who races on the road and on the track. When I was 12, I was a runner and  running was something my dad and I really enjoyed doing together. However, after my dad injured his achilles tendon, we couldn’t run together anymore. He then looked into buying a bike for him and I so we could continue being active together. My love for the sport of cycling grew from there!

I have had the opportunity to represent Canada at two Junior Track World Championships and have raced with Team Ontario for track nationals and road nationals multiple times. I am now a full time student at the University of Waterloo and am taking on the challenge of racing at the elite level while working towards getting my degree in Kinesiology. I love challenging myself and am looking forward to a great season with this amazing group of women!

Erica Leonard

Hi everyone! My name is Erica Leonard and I am extremely excited to be racing with the High Gate Cycling Team for the 2018 season! I have been a cyclist my whole life, mainly a mountain biker, but my love for the sport has made me expand my interests to road and Cyclocross! I’ve raced internationally as a mountain biker and a Cyclocross racer with the Canadian National Team and with Team Ontario at the National level for the past couple of years.

Currently I am studying kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario while training and preparing for the 2018 season! I love studying Kin as I find it’s fascinating and exciting, all the while relatable to my life as a cyclist.

I have been very interested in pursuing road cycling over the past couple of years because it gives cycling an element of teamwork that I don’t really get to experience in other disciplines. I think that the High Gate Women’s Team is especially a great opportunity to work with such inspiring women that will push me to be smarter and go harder in training and racing!

My goals for 2018 include managing my school work/training in a healthy, achievable, and realistic way; to gain experience and fitness racing with HighGate at the provincial and national level for road; and finally to qualify for the mountain bike World Championships in Switzerland as a 2nd year U23 racer.

Now just to make it all happen! Looking forward to a great season, watch out for me in our navy blue kit this year!

Photo Credit: Jody Wilson Photography

Andrea Elliott

My Name is Andrea Elliott.  I have been riding for roughly 9 years.  I have raced at the elite 1/2 level for the past 3 seasons.

Prior to riding I was a competitive figure skater at the senior competitive level. I represented Eastern Ontario at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships from 2000-2004. After retiring from skating I knew I wanted to find another sport. I watched the Tour de France the following summer and I was instantly hooked on cycling. Initially I rode just to push my own limits but I met a local bike shop owner (George Hussey) who got me into racing. I fell in love with it instantly.

Since being a 1/2 racer I represented Canada at the Amateur World Championships in 2015 in Alborg Denmark, placing 9th in the time trial and 7th in the road race. I also placed 3rd at this year’s Steve Bauer Classic.

I’m very excited to be joining HighGate this season. There’s a lot of talented, humble riders on this team. I’m very much looking forward to learning and improving with this strong group of women and I can’t wait for the 2018 season to start.

Franny Jewett

When I was given my first road bike 7 years ago to join the Ride to Conquer Cancer, I didn’t expect to completely fall in the love with the sport. Last year was my first year of racing (Masters) and was fortunate to have the HighGate ladies by my side. With support of our team, I will take a leap in 2019 to race Elite 2!
In my youth, I was a competitive trampolinist, representing Canada around the world for ten years. I have tried other sports since but cycling is by far the most exciting physically, mentally and socially. My best vacations have been spent cycling in Portugal, Belgium, France, VT, NY, AZ, HI and NC with my husband and amazing cycling companions from Uxbridge.

Photo Credit: Jody Wilson Photography

Kaitlyn Shikaze

Hello my name is Kaitlyn Shikaze and I’m a U23 rider from Oakville, Ontario.
I’ve raced mountain bikes for as long as I can remember and I have proudly represented Team Ontario and Team Canada at various events. I’ve also caught a bad case of the #cxfever – that is the love for the insane sport of cyclocross. I enjoy all aspects of racing and training. I love the incredible places around the world my bike takes me and the amazing people I meet in doing so. I’m also a fan of long adventure rides and snack breaks to fuel up on #tacowatts 😉
I am currently a full time student at Queen’s University riding with the Varsity Cycling team. I’m enjoying studying Kinesiology, putting my love for sports and sciences together.
This year I am so excited to step out of my comfort zone and give road racing a try with High Gate! I’m stoked to be join such a strong and empowering group of women on bikes and can’t wait to hit the road!

Ashley Barson

Deirdre Maloney

Hi! Thank you for stopping in to look at our team page! I am the founder and title sponsor of HGR. My fitness journey didn’t start until I was in my thirties. I started out with running and that quickly turned into triathlon. My first year I was quite green but by year 2 I had become an elite age grouper. I raced from 2013-2015 until my knees couldn’t handle the running anymore and I decided to make the full switch into cycling. I raced 2015/16 in the Elite 3 category and moved up to Elite 2 in 2017. Then had my 4th baby in 2018; this forced me to take 2 years off. 2020 will be my first year back and I am thrilled to be racing in the Masters category.  I train with my husband in Oro-Medonte in the spring/summer and in California/Arizona in the late fall/winter. I’m so grateful to have this amazing group of women to train and race with!

Photo Credit: Jody Wilson Photography

Nancy Schmeler

I started road cycling in high school as a way to stay fit during the off season during my competitive ski racing years!  I took a long break after University and did a bit of spinning before deciding to do the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a  200KM ride over 2 days in 2011!  Every season I took on a new challenge in cycling and added triathlon to the mix in 2012.  Since this time I consider cycling my biggest passion – racing various disciplines road, TT, track,  and  triathlon over the last 5 years including 3 full Ironman  & 4 Half Ironman events.  My mission is to get as many women and girls out biking as possible. I spent so many hours training in the off season I decided to open an indoor power cycling studio so I could train with other like minded individuals. I’m also a NCCP certified Tri coach.

My studio Dig Deep Cycling & Fitness has an ambassador program for women who want to do their first triathlon, I support 5 women per year and help them train and stay motivated throughout the year up to their 1st race. I recently became a Felt Freedom ambassador – which is a new North American program Felt started with their dealers (D’Ornellas in Toronto) to promote the growth of women in cycling. Being a sponsor for Highgate was a natural fit for me as Highgate has similar goals of providing a supportive environment for women in cycling & specifically while racing – combined these organizations’ support of young female students/cyclists was of natural interest!

Karen Paterson

My name is Karen Paterson and I am excited to join the Highgate Racing Team for 2018.  I have always loved riding my bike, whether as my primary mode of transportation during my years at university or for fun with my kids as they were learning to ride, but, did not realize how much I loved to race until I did my first Try-a-Tri.  In 2016, in an effort to improve my cycling fitness, I joined my local cycling club, learned how to group ride and pushed my distances as the season progressed.  As an end of season goal, I participated in my first Centurion at Blue Mountain and, in the wind and the rain of that day, I realized that I found the sport that I love!  Last year I rode my first back to back century, completed a week of riding in Portugal with my local cycling club and rode in 3 races at the Blue Mountain Centurion.  These experiences have inspired me to train harder and learn how to race.  I look forward to experiencing my first OCA road race season with the wonderful group of women I have met at Highgate Racing!

Jyl McGunigal

Hey there I’m Jyl.   I’ve been participating in the Ride for Heart since 2011 on my mountain bike until I bought my road bike at D’Ornellas before my first Olympic triathlon.  I got into road cycling through triathlon in 2017.  I could barely get clipped in on the first few rides. With the help of great ride leaders  I perceived and by the end of the season I became more confident  and was able to get clipped in. 

My next season started indoors on the bike most Saturdays and Sundays which helped me to become stronger.  I continued my triathlon journey and participated in Ironman 70.3 Muskoka, Toronto Triathlon Festival and Toronto Island.  I did my first 100 mile (century) ride with 18hrs of planning before hand.  Then I spent my birthday in Blue Mountain at the annual Centurion ride.  I participated on both days 80k (3rd in my age group)  and then 40 k (2nd in my age group).  

I’m hooked, I love cycling with teammates and find I get inspired by the great people I ride with. I’m looking forward to my my first race on Easter weekend.

Sarah Elliott

Hi, I’m Sarah Elliott. I am honoured and extremely proud to be riding for HighGate Racing again in 2018.

After being challenged to make the jump from enthusiastic city bike commuter to road rider, by joining The Ride to Conquer Cancer, the next thing I knew I was lining up for my first Ontario Cup race in 2015. I tried a few road and triathlon races in my first 2 years of cycling with mixed results. In 2017, I challenged myself to race the full Ontario Cup season in the Elite 3 category. My goal was to get a feel for racing strategy and keeping up with the main pack. I finished the year as the Overall Winner of the Elite 3 Women’s Category and 8th Overall GC at the Green Mountain Stage Race Women’s Cat 3/4.

Each year my goal is to be stronger than the last and that will continue into 2018, now racing in Elite 1/2. The unwavering encouragement from the talented women on this team makes what once seemed impossible, possible. I can’t wait to race along side the riders who have inspired me and help the team anyway I can.

Paolina Allan

My name is Paolina Allan. I have been riding a 2 wheeler since I was 3 years of age.
Through commitment, determination and shear grit, The Bicycle has taken me on a journey I never thought would happen to me.  Especially racing as a Professional Triathlete for 7 years, learning that Mental Tenacity was one of my greater assets. The triathlon career took me on a journey of many wins and not so many wins!  I am just thrilled now to be a part of HighGate Racing and look forward to a solid season on the bike.

Coming from a strong time trial background with triathlon has given me the opportunity to wear the Yellow Jersey (the most respected Jersey in cycling!) at The Green Mountain 4 day Stage Race.  I also wore the Queen of the Mountain and Yellow Jersey at the Tour of the Catskills.

2016 Haute Route Pyrenees 7 day stage race 6th overall female.

Canadian Long Course Athlete of the Year 2009

Volunteer Work:

2017 –  Ride To Conquer Cancer  Working to bring more women to the event and Hosted a `How to Get Started Clinic’ with Kind Human bike store. I designed a 15-week training programme for the ladies.
2016  – Founded in Partnership the Eagles All Womens Cycling Group – as a sub group of the Newmarket Eagles Cycling Club
2016-2017 – Hon. Race Director for the All Woman’s Multisport Canada Triathlon.

Ride leader and Ambassador for The Hero Ride and Coast to Coast ride.

Marija Gonzalez-Najera

I have been cycling since 2016, when I got my first road bike in an effort to regain my health. What started out as a means to an end had quickly developed into a passion for cycling. Late 2017 saw me sign up for my first granfondo, and although I was sick and had mechanical issues for the better part of the ride, I was hooked. 2019 was the game changer for me. I have been very fortunate to have met some strong women who have burned me out on the roads of Muskoka at speeds I have never ridden before, to those whom I met in my local cycling club and have pushed my limits on a club TT, and to those who have been there to encourage me every step of the way on a gravel race. Each and every one of them have encouraged me to race, to which I have always answered with my standard “we’ll see, maybe next year”. And now as 2020 approaches, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. And I can’t think of a better team than Highgate Racing to do it with, because each and every one of those aforementioned women are current or former team members. I am very excited to have their support and guidance for what shall be the next chapter of my journey, where I see my riding transition from my means to an end, to one of learning and developing myself in the sport of cycling.

Bryn Currie
Kristin Franks
Michelle Harkness
Shelly Christensen
Tracey Sullivan
Wendy Maloch

Melissa Wong

Hello there! My name is Melissa Wong, but lots of people call me Mel for short! I’ll be racing road with Highgate in 2020, and I am super excited for a stellar season with this incredibly supportive and amazing group of women. I am currently studying Commerce at Queen’s University, and also race with the Queen’s Varsity Cycling Team during the school year.

My first real experience with cycling came at the Jack Ride in 2017, but it wasn’t until I started my first year of university in September 2018 that I became more serious about the sport while riding with the Queen’s team. The Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference in the United States last year was my first season of racing.

Really though, my love for the sport is what keeps me motivated to become a better cyclist. I could go on and on about cycling and why I love it – my friends can certainly attest to that! That being said, I still have lots to learn, and I am really looking forward to learning from and racing with everyone on the Highgate squad!

Photo Credit: Jody Wilson Photography

Kim Inglis

Sports have always been a big part of my life; albeit, quite varied…
I’ve been an avid equestrian (read: crazy horse lady) for my entire life. In my younger years I was a high performance athlete in sprint canoe racing and won the Canadian championships numerous times over the course of my paddling career. During that time I did a lot of cross training including swimming, running, and weight training. I also played lacrosse for my high school and then made the rowing team in university. After school, I moved to Whistler for a few years to downhill ski. Ironically, it was during that time that I fell in love with bikes. I was looking for something to do for the summer months and got introduced to mountain biking – both cross country and downhill. It wasn’t long before I was spending as much time on the mountain biking as I was skiing.
Road biking is a relatively new passion for me. I didn’t get into it until I decided to take up triathlon on a whim in 2015. Funny enough, the first time I ever sat on a road bike was the day before my first triathlon – wondering how to clip into pedals and handle skinny tires! Before I knew it, I was hooked. I’m very much looking forward to racing both road and mountain bike this year. I’m extremely excited to be part of the HighGate team and, mostly importantly, to ride with an amazing group of strong women!

Gabi Edey

Oh hello…my name is Gabi Edey and I am excited to be representing the Highgate Racing team for the 2020 season!  I can’t remember a time when sport wasn’t in my life in one way or another. I am eager to set goals and work hard to achieve them, no matter how lofty or ambitious they may seem. I took up triathlons in 2016 and decided that biking was the best part, so I entered the road cycling scene in 2017. I thrive on the challenge and I absolutely love competing but more importantly, I love surrounding myself with people who push each other to be better. The good times and the positive energy that comes along with a team and simply bringing out the absolute best in each other is what it’s all about!  I am excited to keep learning and making my mark on the cycling scene this year!

Laura Belet

I joined Highgate in 2019 and began my first racing season last spring. Although I have not been cycling for very long, I am beginning to really love the sport! I love that there is so much to learn, and I can continue to challenge myself each day and continually strive to become better.

Before cycling, I spent 13 years rowing. I began rowing in high school and received a scholarship to row at Michigan State University. I spent two summers rowing with the Canadian Women’s Under 23 National team. In 2010 I raced at the World Rowing Championships in Belarus in the U23 women’s 8+ and we won a bronze medal. In the summer of 2011, the World Rowing Championships took place in Amsterdam where I raced in the Women’s 8+ and we won the gold medal and set a world record.

After I decided to stop rowing, I continued to pursue other goals such as racing the Boston marathon, which I did in 2013. After I completed this goal, I took a few years off from serious training. In 2017 my husband and I bought road bikes, which inevitably inspired me to try racing again but in this exciting new capacity! I am so grateful to be back in a sport where I can race and continue to push myself and meet amazing people along the way. My goal is to race E 1/2 in the O cup series next year. I am excited to race with such an amazing team and am really looking forward to the upcoming season!

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