I came into this race knowing that last year’s Puncheur Cross was my favourite. Unfortunately I had a training crash the Tuesday before this race, which put me in kind of a bad place. Mostly scraped up, but also a bit of a bruised wrist and some bruised ribs. I figured I’d be okay to race still, but I wasn’t setting my expectations too high.

The day was chillier than 2022, and it prompted a few last minute re-pinnings of numbers on my part as I waffled over wearing the longsleeve jersey. I only really got a chance to do one full recon lap, which was where my first problem happened. There were a pair of steep downhills in the woods. One of them I was okay with, but the second had a sharp right-hand turn at the bottom and I couldn’t trust myself to make it, not with my OTB memory of earlier in the week. I did exactly what you’re not supposed to do and looked where I was scared of going. I hit the tape but didn’t crash. Then I tried the sand pit and wiped out and twisted my back, pulling something on my left side.

At the start line. - photo by Stewart “The Legend” Hutchings1

All of that led to me being in pain and unable to really lift my bike properly when I got to the barriers. Combined with the heavy mud on my bike from the climbing in another section of the course and my warmups had put me in a bad headspace (you can probably see it in the picture of me at the start line above).

On the first real lap, I freaked out at the second downhill and had to run down, holding up everyone behind me. It hurt so much and I felt so shitty. Despondent at my failure. When I got to the sand I ran it, but lifting my bike was an agony. Everything sucked and I was sure I would be getting my first DNF1 of my racing “career.”

But as things went on they got better. I balked at the downhill again, but the marshal at the top was encouraging even though I didn’t make my turn at the bottom. I rode the sand slowly but cleanly. I climbed in the mud. I saw Stew Hutchings2 out on the course and said I was having a bad day on the bike but it still beat working. On my last lap I made my downhill turn and rode the sand, and was passed by the bunch of teenagers who were up at the front of the race. Lifting my bike over the barriers sucked a lot, but I did it. I finished the race in pain but finished.

Sadly, I wasn’t feeling hanging out the rest of the day and there was no chili the way there had been the year before so I don’t have any great insight on how the rest of the day went. I do know that I could have done way better is I hadn’t been injured, but this kind of failure is part of racing and embracing the suck.

results

Podia

Expert Men

  1. Larix Hallett
  2. Luke PULFORD
  3. Adam ROBERTS

Novice Men

  1. Warren NISHIMURA4
  2. Matthew TEEL
  3. William LEMIEUX

Open Men

  1. Ryan MACLEAN
  2. Eric BERG
  3. Graham FRANCIS

Open Women

  1. Nico KNOLL
  2. Christiane BILODEAU
  3. Alexandra VOLSTAD

Sport Men

  1. Jack PURDY
  2. Josh BARKER
  3. Brendan CARDIFF5

Sport Women

  1. Daena SIDNEY
  2. Sarah WELSH
  3. Hazel ROBERTS

my results

read more


  1. At the start line - photo by Stewart “The Legend” Hutchings ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. The Legend. He’s aged up to the 75+ bracket and still rides ‘cross, though usually only one race per weekend. ↩︎

  3. These results erroneously have me in 9th place because they didn’t note I was lapped. The version on CrossResults is accurate. ↩︎

  4. I saw Warren in the parking lot after our race, not knowing who he was and asked how his race went. He answered with a very charming joie de velo “I won! I haven’t been on a podium in 20 years.” ↩︎

  5. Velocity Cycling Club woo! ↩︎