Meaghan Hackinen (MFA’16) knows something about determination. In less than one year, the writer and cyclist from British Columbia set two ultra-endurance cycling records and published her debut book.
In November 2019, Hackinen—a graduate of the College of Arts and Science’s MFA in Writing Program—set a world record at the World Time Trial Championships in California, cycling nearly nonstop for 24 hours to a distance of 460.8 miles.
Two weeks earlier, she launched South Away: The Pacific Coast on Two Wheels, a travel memoir about her adventure on a bicycle from Canada to the tip of the Baja Peninsula. South Away was shortlisted for a 2020 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize and a 2020 Alberta Book Publishing Award.
In June 2020, Hackinen become the first woman to complete a 10,000-metre “Everest” of Knox Mountain in Kelowna, B.C.—a challenge that involved pedaling up and down the mountain for 19 hours until she’d climbed a greater height than Mount Everest.
Arts&Science asked Hackinen for her advice on staying motivated, whether on a bike or at a keyboard.
- Have a plan. “I write out my training calendar with my coach weeks or months in advance.” Even if you don’t follow the plan to the letter, it will help keep you committed.
- Break down the task. “For the 24-hour time trial, I broke my training down into a week-by-week schedule.” When writing her book, Hackinen focused “on shorter segments that eventually built into a coherent whole.”
- Celebrate accomplishments. “After a big training ride, I celebrate by making myself a giant scrambled egg breakfast, with peanut butter and jam toast—even if I finish at 10 pm.”
- Keep it positive. “I talk to myself more than I’d like to admit on the bike.… ‘You can do this, Meaghan!’ ‘You’ve got this, only six hours to go (gulp!)’ ”
- Pick the right music. “When I’m cycling, I enjoy listening to tunes that are upbeat and catchy. When I’m writing, I prefer music without lyrics.”
- Remind yourself of the why. “I compete in ultra-distance cycling events to test my limits, and to discover how far I can go. I am driven by curiosity, and the thrill of riding longer, harder and farther than I ever imagined possible.”
Meaghan’s pump-up tracks
Personal playlist from the 24-hour world championship ride