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Ruby West makes juggling cyclocross, track, road and school look easy

The 17 year old balances training in three cycling disciples and Grade 11 studies.

Ruby West
Ruby West
Photo credit: Will Dickson

For many, a busy year involves switching jobs, starting university or the final weeks of a big project at work. For 17-year-old Ruby West, juggling training in three cycling disciples, travelling internationally for competitions and working toward completing a Grade 11 curriculum (admittedly reduced) keeps her occupied throughout the year. She may break a sweat in training, but the Dundas, Ont., native is enjoying the ride, whether through mud and dirt in Belgium or on the boards in Milton, Ont.

On a sunny spring afternoon three days ahead of the Canadian junior track national championships that take place at the Milton velodrome April 1–3, West wasn’t out riding her bike. “I’m going to be at the track later today for a women’s drop-in session, an easier night, so no outside today. I was also there last night doing some motor pacing,” she said.

Following a three-week break after the world cyclocross championships in Zolder, Belgium, at the end of January, the Canadian under-23 cyclocross champion shifted her focus entirely onto the track to prepare for the championships.

“I think it’s been a pretty busy year, so I got back from worlds and had some time off after a long ’cross season pushing and training through the winter. I took three weeks and went on vacation in Jamaica for some time off the bike. When I got back, it was straight into the track. It was a bit of a harsh comeback because it’s such a snappy discipline, but it came back eventually. I think having the base over the winter and a couple of endurance camps helped me a lot,” she said.

She speaks with excitement about her numerous goals in the coming year. “Track nationals is my main goal, for this week at least. I don’t really know how it will go because it hasn’t been my total focus, but I think good things will come,” she said.

“Track nationals is my main goal, for this week at least.”

Going into the summer, she will be competing for the Centurion Next Wave Cycling Team based out of Barrie, Ont. “There are a lot of junior men on the team. It’s great to train with them. Obviously they kick my butt but they make me stronger. Rimouski and Canadian nationals are the big races on the road for me,” she said of the races that are important for selection to junior road worlds.

She then transitions to ’cross in the fall. “I will do the N.A. World Cups and hopefully have another trip or two in Europe with the season ending at the world championships.”

Ruby West
Ruby West at the 2015 Canadian cyclocross championships. Photo credit: Thomas Fricke

While juggling three cycling disciplines, West is studying in a self-paced high school. “I am not on a full course load. I go to school until 11:30 a.m., and then have the rest of the day for training and homework. My teachers are understanding about how much school I have to miss. Last semester, I had to do my exams earlier for ’cross worlds. I’m in Grade 11 now; I will take an extra semester of high school to get my marks to where I want them to be. Then I want to go to university and I will see where my cycling is then, but school is definitely the priority.”

With a race schedule packed right into 2017 West said, “It’s definitely a non-stop thing. It’s pretty cool having done the races in Europe and knowing what’s out there. It makes me want to go back and do it again.”