I returned to cyclocross in 2022, and went back to the same race in the same park. I’m not sure if that makes this a classic or not.

I’d tested this course beforehand. My house is just across the river from the “indestructible Strathcona Science Park1 so this was where I’d been riding up and down hills and practicing my off-cambers the week before.

my idyllic practice image2

In the tech guide the organizers had released it looked like the really super-steep downhill I’d wiped out on in my practice laps back in 2019 was not part of the course, which I appreciated. I knew that going downhill and turning back up was not my strongest skill, but also that I could power up the climbs at a decent pace. I was ready.

I was lined up in the back row, having no ranking to speak of. The starting chute was a bit different than I’d remembered it (closer to the finish and centre of action3) and we got to hit barriers right away after some rootiness. The practice wasn’t good enough to launch me off the front of the race but I turned my pedals and didn’t get caught up in any of the twistiness. At the points where we had a couple of steep climbs (one on a gravel road and the other straight up a grassy hill) I was able to pass riders. I remembered how much fun this all was.

Through most of the race I was chasing a rider named Arun Ward. I remembered his name because he was called up in the front row, so seeing him as the wheel in front of me gave me confidence. “How close to the front am I?” I followed him around and saw his tubeless tire burp in a pothole. Having someone to chase made me ride better, except when I followed him high on an off-camber. Now I realize my tire pressure should have been lower to get better grip on that but I wiped out on one of my middle laps. And then again on the last lap, cussing. I know I shouldn’t be so vociferous but I couldn’t stop.

By the end of the race I was just a little behind Ward but I had no idea how many people were ahead of him. My partner thought I was 7th or so, but in the end she’d missed seeing the front group and I was only 11th.4 There was a small group of us older guys who’d finished near each other and we chatted about how I seemed to be doing better but then crashed out a few times. Ward asked if I was going to be racing the next day and I wasn’t, but hoo boy did I want to.


my results

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  1. So described in the tech guide. I assume that one year they must have destroyed this place with a CX race. ↩︎

  2. My CX bike in the tall grass at Science Park before the mower went through. ↩︎

  3. Which was good because my partner and kid didn’t get there in time to take my backpack with race gear so I had to leave it lying on the ground while I raced and have faith in the goodness of ‘crossers. ↩︎

  4. It actually took a number of weeks for my result to be recognized by the Alberta Bicycle Association, during which time I was mistakenly listed as a DNF. ↩︎