For the second year in a row, the Canadian cyclocross championships have been cancelled. In 2020, the pandemic hobbled the event. This year, devastating floods in B.C., which have destroyed farms, homes and disrupted travel, prompted organizers to postpone the event until Jan. 8–9.
The ’cross champs were set to go this weekend. Many of the country’s top riders were excited to compete for the maple-leaf jersey. However, with one of Canada’s worst natural disasters continuing to unfold, there was simply no way the race could go on. Now, for many of the riders, there is uncertainty as to how their seasons will unfold. Some will have to skip the new date of the champs in January, whereas others are on a wait-and-see basis.
One of the riders who may be skipping out on the rescheduled event is five-time national champ Geoff Kabush. “I was all ready to go with bikes and wheels for this weekend. Unfortunately I am doubtful regarding the new date. I’m sure, like a lot of people like myself, that they are ready for a little off-season break, some skiing. I’m not sure I’d be ready to race and want to schedule travel to attend the race in January if it happens,” he said. “It’s great for the full-time CX racers getting ready for the worlds but I assume it is a challenge for many to train through the holidays. It’s definitely been a really tough stretch for organizers with one thing after another. Hopefully things will run a bit smoother next year.”
Cycling Canada has made the difficult decision to postpone the 2021 Canadian Cyclo-cross Championships & Bear Crossing Grand Prix, initially scheduled on November 27-28, due to the current state of emergency in the province of BC.
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Canada’s top female ‘crosser and defending champion, Maghalie Rochette, almost immediately boarded a plane back to Europe. She had come back following the cyclocross World Cup in Tabor just to attend nationals. “When I heard it was cancelled, we changed all our flights that day, made all our arrangements,” she said. Her partner and manager David Gagnon had to head down to the U.S. right away. “He drove 30 hours to Fayetteville, Ark., to bring down our truck and trailer this past Friday/Saturday because we go straight there from Europe in January. Then he flew back home Sunday. On Monday, we flew to Europe. I’ll race this upcoming Sunday in Europe, and will stay here until January. I won’t yet change my plans for the nationals. We’ll see if it happens.”
For Jenn Jackson, the current Canadian national cross country champ, the postponement might be a good thing. “Everything has been on hold for me since the start of November after a crash on my mountain bike. I’d actually just decided I wouldn’t race the nationals a couple days before the announcement was made that they’d postpone until January,” Jackson said. “Now I might have a chance at it! Whether I make it to the start line for the new date still depends on how my recovery goes, as well as ability and cost to travel given how much of a shakeup B.C., has had due to the extreme weather events. Of course, I want to race, but there are just a lot of ‘it depends’ for now, especially as it creeps into 2022 where I’m really looking ahead to the mountain bike season.”
Like everyone in Canada, she is concerned about the continuing devastation occurring in B.C. “These are really crazy times out here in B.C., now,” she said. “There are some more big weather events in the forecast this week, which hopefully don’t amount to as much as these past ones, or worsen the situation much more.”
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Current national elite men’s ’cross champ Michael van den Ham is in the same boat. He did have a good ride on Sunday at ValleyCross, in Fraser Valley, even though he almost didn’t go. “Given the natural disaster in the Fraser Valley, I was pretty on the fence about whether I could or should make it out, but after I realized I can get there without causing an extra car trip, I made the now two-hour trek, it’s usually 40 minutes,” he explained in an Instagram post. “And I’m pretty happy I did! Not only did ValleyCross raise something like $3,000 for the search and rescue and countless dry goods, but it felt so good to reconnect with the cycling community after what has been a pretty draining week.”
Isabella and Ava Holmgren, the two juniors who have raced several elite World Cups this year, like so many others, are trying to figure out a game plan. Their mother Lisa said that they are reworking what to do next. “It’s an ever-moving target. They just got back from North Carolina and raced junior on one day and elite the next,” Holmgren said. “They leave for Texas next week for the Pan Am championships and then home for a week or so before Europe.”
Holmgren’s thoughts echoed what so many are feeling now, that everyone is certainly “learning to be adaptable and pack or race with no notice and just go with the flow.”