Photos Digby Shaw. Words Tom Lynskey

The state of ’cross now is an interesting thing, Pat observed.

What- I offered, like it used to be kind of a low down punk scene, but now we’ve come away from that?

Sort of like it’s still got its punk element, but now it’s finding its own self, yeah.

I always had this vision of cyclocross as a meeting of road and MTB waters – a place where each tributary ebbed and rushed a certain way. Colliding, chaos, but consonant.

It was a nice vision, because in my mind your skills could carry poor fitness and vice versa. In theory, a good mountain biker and a good roadie should be well matched. But I don’t think it’s right. The demands are too specific, and I think that explains the scene that’s developed.

There are some decent roadies turning up, but I suspect they’re roadies who can grasp the joyful foolishness of careening off down slick chutes, and the art in pulling it off.

Likewise there are some good mountain bikers, but I suspect they apprehend the harmony of efficient movement, and are willing to extract some cruel penance through turning themselves inside out.

And who’s better? Well, who cares.

A big part of it is the understanding that the sport is fundamentally quite ridiculous. It’s a large part of what makes it such fun. It’s one of the few places where egos thud heavily into ruts and are slow to get back up. And one of the fewer places where you can slam someone into the tape, and then find an enjoyable conversation with them on the finish line.

What’s the state of ’cross in Wellington now? There’s still the same intimacy, the same humour. There’s just been a few come and go. The spirit largely remains, and it still cradles the sport’s charming and peculiar heritage.

If it’s breaking from its grass roots, the faces are remarkably similar.