Athletes of the week: HMBA riders

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A growing mountain biking scene led some Huntsville locals to form the new Huntsville Mountain Bike Association and its riders are already seeing strong results.

Association president, Buck Miller, says, “There’s always been a healthy amount of mountain bikers in the town, and with the Huntsville Mountain Bike Association’s push for public trails, we’ll only see more and more riders out there enjoying the trails and getting in to racing.”

During the 2018 season, there were four athletes that dedicated their time and efforts to their sport as they travelled to weekly races and participated in the Ontario Cup series which consists of seven cross-country mountain bike races across the province—Woodnewton (Uxbridge), Horseshoe Resort (Barrie), Hardwood Bike and Ski (Oro-Medonte), Sir Sam’s (Haliburton), Albion Hills (Caledon) and Kelso Conservation Area (Milton).

Noah Galt (U13 Peewee), Blake Punchard (U15 Minime), Cole Punchard (U17 Cadet Sport), and Adam Galt (Master Sport Men 30-39) all ride for Angry Johnny’s racing team.

The final race of the series, the provincial championships, was held in late August at Kelso Conservation Area. All four Huntsville participants placed well in their respective categories.

Blake Punchard placed 17th in the U15 (Minime) category, and 14th overall in the Ontario Cup series; Cole Punchard placed 3rd in the U17 (Cadet Sport), and 1st overall for the Ontario Cup series; Noah Galt placed 10th in the U13 (Peewee), and 6th overall for the Ontario Cup Series; and Adam Galt placed 3rd in the Master Sport Men (age 30-39), and 2nd overall for the Ontario Cup Series.

Noah and his father Adam are new to the sport and have only been riding and racing for three years. They competed in the weekly Mudslinger race at Buckwallow Cycling Center in Gravenhurst, as well as the Ontario Cup series.

“Last year we both competed in several Ontario Cup races, before racing the full series this year,” said Adam. “It’s a great sport that allows us to spend time together, get outdoors, and push one another.”

“Noah had his sights on a top-five finish this year after winning provincials in the U11 (Squirt) category last year, but next year as a second year U13, with the love he has for riding and effort he puts in, I have no doubt that he’ll challenge for a podium position on a regular basis” said Adam.

President of the HMBA, Buck Miller, believes that both Noah and Adam’s results will only improve year after year based on Noah’s provincial championship win last year and Adam’s third place this year. “They love riding and it shows.”

Blake and Cole Punchard, from Novar, have been getting great experience with the Ontario Cup circuit and weekly races at Buckwallow throughout the summer.

“This was my best season yet for coming first in the province for Cadet Sport and being part of a team,” said Cole. “I can’t wait for next season and training this winter.”

His brother Blake has already set his goal for next year. “My season was great and I finished 14 overall out of 31 racers in Ontario, so next year I am going for top 10!”

For the 2019 season, Cole Plunchard has a real shot at winning the overall Ontario Cup series and winning the championships while Blake continues to grow and improve on a weekly basis, said Miller.

“Racing for the entire season takes a big commitment from the riders having to ride hard every day, travel across the province and really push themselves to stay focused and make every ride count before a big race,” added Miller. “Mountain biking isn’t like hockey. There’s not nearly as much support and friends to do it with. So hats off to these locals representing Huntsville racing all season long.”

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