New Brunswick

Pendrel's prodigy: Fredericton mountain biker pushes for funding

Fourteen-year-old biker Ella Bragdon is looking to make her mountain biking dreams a reality, but she needs some help, which she hopes to get from the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

14-year-old Ella Bragdon is following in the bike treads of New Brunswick Olympian Catharine Pendrel

Ella Bragdon usually has to race against adults and is hoping to get money so she can race more often outside New Brunswick. (Submitted by Ella Bragdon)

A 14-year-old Fredericton cyclist is looking to make her mountain-biking dreams a reality, and to do that she needs some help.

Ella Bragdon has applied for the Champion Fund, a $5,000 scholarship from the Dairy Farmers of Canada to help female athletes with their sport. 

Anyone who's shown the dedication and the skills on a bike and the willingness to learn and push herself that she has, is going to do something awesome.- Catharine Pendrel

The money would go toward training, coaching and travelling out of province to compete.

Bragdon is one of just three girls in her age group in New Brunswick who mountain bike competitively.

"To get the competition that I need to get faster, I need to go out of province," she said.

"I usually have to race against the adults, so it's nice to go to the out-of-province races because there is so much more competition in Quebec and Nova Scotia."

Bragdon went to three competitions outside New Brunswick this summer. In her first race in Quebec she was nervous, and came in 10th out of 16. Then, the next race, she came in sixth. 

"I was super proud and excited about that," Bragdon said. "I sort of knew more about what was going to go down."

Help from the best

Ella Bragdon has a section of her wall dedicated to Catharine Pendrel. (Philip Drost/CBC)
Ella Bragdon has been getting help from New Brunswick's most successful mountain biker. Olympic medallist Catharine Pendrel has been giving Bragdon inspiration, and gear.

"She's a huge inspiration for me because she came from New Brunswick and she really has shown me what New Brunswick can do and how far you can go," said Bragdon. 

Catharine Pendrel helps Ella Bragdon out and has given her leftover gear at the end of her racing season. (Submitted by Ella Bragdon)
Bragdon has met a few times with Pendrel, who's also from Fredericton, and gone on bike rides with her as well. She has biking jerseys from the Olympian and a spot on her wall dedicated to her hero. 

"I always have extra kit at the end of my season, so I've been able to give her some of my racing kit and things like that,"  Pendrel said. 

"She's such a good rider at such a young age, and it was a realization for me of what girls can do now because they do start cycling so much earlier."

And the giving has been a two-way street. Bragdon used to make jewelry out of recycled bike parts, and she gave earrings she made to Pendrel.  

"It was super cool because then she wore them and she called them her lucky earrings," said Bragdon. 

The next gear

Bragdon's next goal is to go to the Canada Games in 2019.

Ella Bragdon is one of only three mountain bikers in her age group in New Brunswick. (Submitted by Ella Bragdon)
"I look forward to eventually going to the Canada Games and getting more intense into it and getting more competitive," said Bragdon. 

 And Pendrel believes she certainly has the potential to do great things in the sport.

"Anyone who's shown the dedication and the skills on a bike and the willingness to learn and push herself that she has, is going to do something awesome," said Pendrel.

About the Author

Philip Drost is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick.