Yukon got its first taste of mountain bike orienteering on Sunday.
The Contagious Mountain Bike Club held its Mountain Bike Kick-Off in conjunction with the Yukon Orienteering Association, starting and ending at the Schwatka Lake Boat Launch in Whitehorse.
Just three days after co-hosting a running event with Athletics Yukon, the association took the reins of the mountain bike club’s season opener, selecting a 14-kilometre course with three orienteering timing controls along the way.
Unlike actual mountain bike orienteering, participants on Sunday were following a trail, not a map, and the timing controls required no searching through bushes.
“They are right on the marked route – they don’t have to search for them. It’s a bright orange flag right on the route. It was hard to miss them,” said Forest Pearson, a director with the association.
Not too coincidently, Sunday also marked the final day of National Orienteering Week.
“There were beginner-friendly events put on by orienteering clubs across Canada,” said Pearson.
“As part of this we had our learn-to-orienteer clinic at the start of the week, we had our first event on Wednesday, and we partnered with like-minded clubs so that we could do some events in which we introduce a little bit of an orienteering element.”
The presence of the orienteering timing devices, which recorded the time each cyclist reached a control, added a new dimension to the club’s mountain bike races.
With one control at the bottom of a large hill, one at the top, and another at the bottom on the other side, there was more at stake than simply crossing the finish line first. Each cyclist could be ranked in terms of fastest uphill, fastest downhill and fastest overall.
However, this time, one name topped each of those sections.
Paul Burbidge was the fastest in each section of the race, completing the course in 40 minutes and 20 seconds. Taking second was Spencer Skerget, 45 seconds behind Burbidge.
Finishing third was the day’s top female rider, Jillian Chown, with a time of 52 minutes and 37 seconds.
“The orienteering club put the course out there and it was really good,” said Burbidge. “The splits are something new for the race and I think they’re really good. They add a little interest for people.
“The people who are stronger climbers get to compete on the climb and then there are people who are strong descenders. There was one climbing stage and one descending stage, so that was cool.”
Burbidge took second in the King of the Canyon – the Yukon Mountain Bike Championships – last August.
“I haven’t raced very much in the Yukon,” said Burbidge. “I’ve been riding for 15 years, but this year I’m training for the B.C. Bike Race so I’ve been showing up at more races this year.”
This season is as packed with Contagious events as any before. The club will be holding its Boogaloo to Boreale Fun Race, this year starting and finishing at the Boreale Mountain Biking compound, on May 26.
Contagious will then host the 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival, a 24-hour lap race, June 23-24, from noon to noon.
The final major event will be the King of the Canyon championship race on August 19.
There’s hardly a week on the Contagious calendar without a small race or group ride. The club is holding “Toonie Races” every second Tuesday, with group rides on alternate Tuesdays.
Contagious is also hosting introduction to mountain biking clinics every Monday for the next month and “Dirt Girls” women’s rides every Thursday.
New to the club this year is the Adopt a Trail Program, in which bikers take a stewardship role of trails, maintaining them and reporting to the club their condition.
“All it really involves is committing to riding it on occasion and report back to me about trail conditions, doing some clearing of blow-downs – especially in the spring – taking note of erosion, clearing out garbage, noting any signage problems,” said Jenn Roberts, the club’s director of trails. “Basically being the eyes and ears out on the trails network.”
More information on the trail program and events can be found at cmbcyukon.ca.
1st Paul Burbidge – 40:20
2nd Spencer Skerget – 41:05
3rd Jillian Chown – 52:37
4th Jim Greenfield – 52:51
5th Ian Davis – 55:56
6th Phil Huffman – 59:34
7th Dean Eyre – 59:56
8th Shea Huffman – 1:13:20
9th Mario Villenuve – 1:14:09
10th Heather Leduc – 1:14:10
11th Sierra van der Meer – 1:16:31
12th Carrie Burbidge – 1:16:41
13th Theresa Landman – 1:20:49
14th Even Wise – 1:31:37
15th Lee/Tim/Hunter Vincent – 1:50:25
Contact Tom Patrick at