On November 5 in Sherbrooke, Que. Ruby West will look to defend her youth women’s Canadian national cyclocross title. West joined Cannondale powered by Cyclocrossworld.com for the 2016 season which has allowed her to expand her race calendar in her fourth year in the sport. Fresh off a slightly disappointing showing at the Pan American championships at CincyCX in which she finished sixth in the under-23 race, West was briefly back home in Dundas, Ont. before hitting the road once again for next weekend’s race.
“It’s been super good actually,” West said about her season up to date. “I’ve done most of the UCI races in the States and I seem to be improving race to race. This past weekend the races were not really what I was looking for honestly. It made me a little more grateful for the races that did go well.”
At 17-years-old West has raced on the road and track but it’s on the ‘cross bike that she really excels. The opportunity to race with her good friend Emma White at Cannondale has allowed her to focus on the discipline.”I would like to think I am setting an example,” she said about primarily focusing on ‘cross, something most cyclists don’t do. “It’s not at the level it could be at. It’s just hard where we are with a lack of UCI races in Canada. It’s a big commitment and expensive to do the races in the States.”
“‘Cross historically has been a side sport and because it’s not in the Olympics it gets put on the back burner,” she said about the funding and support available to Canadian cyclocross racers. “Most people prioritize other disciplines because those have a clearer avenue.”
In the Cannondale team, West found a squad that really focuses on ‘cross. Past seasons she would hang around with the team at races and she said getting the opportunity to join them this season was a dream come true. With experienced riders like Kaitlin Antonneau and Stephen Hyde—who won both elite men’s races at CincyCX—to learn from and staff like Tim Johnson, the U.S. based team is giving her the support she needs to take it to the next level. “We are racing more than many of the other girls are and that exposure puts you on another level,” she said about herself and fellow Canadian Sidney McGill of Focus CX Team Canada who she anticipates being one of the top contenders for the under-23 women’s title at nationals.
My teacher asked how I did at my race on the weekend, when I said 6th he asked if that was out of 7 people….nice
— Ruby West (@ruby3773) October 17, 2016
Ruby is currently wrapping up her final year of high school and though racing keeps her away from the classroom during the ‘cross season, like many of her classmates she is thinking about what will come next. The only certainty at the moment is she will continue to pursue her studies in some shape or form.
As for nationals on Saturday, West said, “I’m kinda relaxed, there is nothing to loose. I think it’s great that there isn’t a definite answer to who will win, there is that top end in the women’s category that is developing.”
That development is something West said she sees across all levels of the sport. “I think it’s great for anyone to do,” she said about cross. West raced in Vaughan, Ont. a few weeks ago and noted the size of the women’s field was unprecedented. “Once people try it they are hooked. There is a great sense of community that is so welcoming, it’s fun to go out and heckle and cheer your friends on.”
Following nationals, West will take a brief break and then race in Warwick. She is then contemplating traveling to Europe for Christmass Cross week in Belgium, despite it meaning she would miss spending the holidays with her family for the first time. Then it’s hopefully on to worlds in Bieles, Luxembourg in 2017.