‘Just come out and support Canadian sport’
“Where is everyone?” Sandra Walter asked. She was in Nicholls Oval Park in Peterborough, Ont. That afternoon, she’d race in ptbo cx Lift Lock Cross, a C2-level cyclocross event that would follow the previous day’s national championships. Walter has competed in ’cross nationals for eight consecutive seasons. This past November, she had lined up against Maghalie Rochette, Jenn Jackson and four other women. There were only seven riders competing for the elite women’s title, which had others asking the same question as Walter: where is everyone?
Maghalie Rochette, who defended her national title, mused that geography might be a factor. Canada is a large country and travelling to nationals, which changes location every two years, can be a challenge. Naturally, the makeup of the fields do reflect the regions in which the championships are held. I n 2014 and 2015, more western riders came out to compete in Winnipeg. In 2016 and 2017, Quebec was well represented in Sherbrooke. Still, Walter was a bit mystified by the turnout this past year in the province with the highest population i n Canada. “We saw smaller fields here than at local B.C. races,” said the rider from Coquitlam, B.C.
“I think it’s really important that the cyclocross community comes out and supports the events. If you don’t think you are fit enough: whatever. Just come out and support Canadian sport,” she said, hoping that all riders will travel to nationals in Victoria next year. “Bring your A game. Even if you don’t have your A game, bring your B game.” Walter brought her game to Peterborough. Even though she hadn’t really been on her bike much following Cycling Canada’s Olympic test event in Tokyo almost a month previous, she raced. She placed third, which marked her fifth podium finish in six years.