Sheppard accelerates towards the platform ©Matt Haughey

Sheppard ruled the Cross Crusade to prepare for Nats File photo ©Matt Haughey

How does the newly crowned Canadian national cyclocross champion commemorate his new title? By celebrating over pints, watching hockey and reflecting on how he got there. Sheppard checks in from a Toronto bar. See also our race report here.

by Chris Sheppard

I tried to switch my flight this evening to make the [Cross Crusade] start tomorrow, but it was no go. Instead I consumed many frothy pints at the brewery across the street while watching Hockey Night in Canada – Toronto/Buffalo, Vancouver/Detroit. It doesn’t get much better than that if you’re a Canuck. It’s tough to put today’s results into words given the emotions that come to play…

It has been 19 years since I won the National MTB Cross-Country Championships. I’ve received many a second, third and fourth place – 11 or so, I do believe – plus numerous top-20 World Cup and World Championship results over the years. I feel honored to race against my fellow Canadians and compete for a jersey one last time.

Cyclocross is a fresh channel for me to test myself, and I rank it high amongst my palmares. I haven’t been influenced by emotion over the years, but today was quite special to me and dictated my agitated state. Ready?

This is a mouthful, but my previous National Championships victory took me to the ’91 World MTB Championships in Italy. I met a fellow Canadian national team member named Dylan Thomas. Thanks to keyboard crack, namely, Facebook, we reconnected in the last year. Unfortunately, he was recently diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, which is a type of bone cancer. This will be a battle for him, so every time I wanted to just sit up, I thought of Dylan. He’s fighting hard, and I know he has the heart and strength to shit-can Ewing’s Sarcoma to the curb.

Always I think of my family, so this trip was especially hard. I would love to represent Canada one last time at the World Championship, but that is not reality. I love hanging with my little man, [son] Parker, and working for the finest physiotherapists in the country, while having a hands-on massage therapy education at Rebound Physiotherapy. Next up are the USGPs in Portland, the Sea Otter Classic one last time, then defending my BC Bike race title. Hey, the Canucks just scored short-handed to take the lead 3-2!  Go Vancouver.