Whitehorse’s mountain bike community was in high gear this past weekend, with local cyclists having their pick of events to attend.
After six years in the planning, the new skills park at Mt. McIntyre officially opened Sunday with a celebration including music, prizes, a barbecue and demonstrations.
The Dirt n’ Soul Bike Park, as it was named, was completed in early June after about a year after construction first began. The park was designed by Jay Hoots, a professional rider, coach and owner of the BC-based company Hoots Inc., a mountain bike clothing and safety equipment manufacturer.
“Me and this other guy, Mike Stevely, dreamt this up about six years ago,” said Contagious Mountain Bike Club president Devon McDiarmid. “This year and last year Kate White came in and took over on the stuff that we weren’t doing.
“We get huge support from the mountain bike club, so they were heavily involved.
“This has been a very community driven park.”
The name was chosen through a “Name the Park” contest, receiving roughly 200 submissions. The author of the winning submission would have been awarded a new mountain bike, however, Dirt n’ Soul was entered anonymously, leaving the bike to be raffled off during the celebration on Sunday.
The park received financial support from the city of Whitehorse, Lotteries Yukon and local sponsors – the total of which is still being calculated – but construction costs were kept below the estimated $80,000 price tag thanks to volunteer efforts.
“Because we got so much stuff in kind, and had so much volunteer labour, we don’t really have an accurate number,” said McDiarmid. “If we were to just go and build this, it would be over $100,000, for sure.”
Skinnies, teeter-toters, long rides, a drop zone, and a 20-foot wall ride are just some of the apparatuses that can now be enjoyed by cyclists. The park is open to the public.
Gonda remains regal
Dave Gonda had on some familiar headgear to start the weekend. The Whitehorse cyclist was once again on the throne at the end of the King of the Canyon mountain bike race on Saturday, defending his title from last year.
“I hadn’t really ridden the week before, so I wasn’t sure how I would be feeling, but I was feeling good enough to ride a good pace for the whole race,” said Gonda. “There were a couple other people there I didn’t know, so I didn’t know what to expect.
“I really enjoyed hitting the trails here again because I was gone all summer.”
Gonda finished the roughly 50-kilometre course in two hours, 41 minutes and four seconds, over five-minutes up from second place Marcus Wattereus, who was part of the winning four-person men’s team at the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay in June.
Finishing third in the men’s long course was James Minifie, who, in his first full summer in the Yukon, won the solo men’s category at the 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival and then the Long Lakes Bike Loppet a couple weeks ago.
In the “Queen” category (women’s long course), Whitehorse’s Tamara Goeppel was way in front of the rest of the field with a time of 3:06:33. Coming in behind Goeppel, who set a new women’s course record at VeloNorth’s Skagway Hill Climb in May, was Nadele Flynn with a time of 4:47:57. Flynn, along with partner Kerrie Paterson, won the two-person women’s category at the Kluane Chilkat race.
As for the short courses, in the men’s “Prince” division, Evan Wise defended his title, beating out one other rider with a time of 1:49:51. For the “Princes” division, Sierra van der Meer left her competition in the dust, finishing more than an hour and 10 minutes up from second place finisher Leslie Vandermass with a time of 2:28:55.
Twenty-seven riders participated in this year’s race, which featured the addition of some new trails. The long course began at the Schwatka Lake boat launch, up the Blue Ski Trails, across the lower part of Grey Mountain, climbing up to the new Goatee and Mother Tucker trails, back south across Grey Mountain, towards the Yukon River trail where it ended.
Gonda, who represented the territory at the Canada Summer Games in 2009, has had a full summer of racing.
Earlier this month Gonda finished seventh at the TransRockies TR3 race, a three-day solo race.
“I got a top-10 there and there were some big names riders there, so it was a really good experience,” said Gonda. “You end in a different community each night. You cycle 70 kilometres each day and there’s lots of climbing.”
At the MTB XC Championships in mid-July in Canmore, Alberta, Gonda finished 11th in the U-23 division,
“I was happy with that. I got some good UCI points from that, which good for building for next year,” said Gonda. “They help you get better starting positions.”
Closer to home, Gonda, who cycles for the CMC/Bow Cycle out of Alberta, finished fourth overall at the Tour de Whitehorse.
King (men’s long course)
1st Dave Gonda – 2:41:04
2nd Marcus Wattereus – 2:46:47
3rd James Minifie – 2:49:32
4th Jonathan Kerr – 2:55:22
5th Ross Phillips – 2:57:52
6th Arnold vanderWoodsen – 3:02:22
7th Aaron Foos – 3:05:49
8th Brian Nichols – 3:14:50
9th Hans Gatt – 3:18:39
10th Joe DeGraff – 3:22:37
11th Devon McDiarmid – 3:29:52
12th Scott Kerby – 3:39:30
13th Sky Pearson – 4:15:38
14th Paul Gowdie – 4:47:54
15th Alex MacDonald – 4:48:00
Queen (women’s long course)
1st Tamara Goeppel – 3:06:33
2nd Nadele Flynn – 4:47:57
3rd Kris Gardner – 4:54:11
4th Kealy Sweet – 4:54:15
Prince (men’s short course)
1st Evan Wise – 1:49:51
2nd David Pharand – 2:32:55
Princess (women’s short course)
1st Sierra van der Meer – 2:28:55
2nd Leslie Vandermass – 3:39:47
3rd Carrie Burbidge – 3:40:07
4th Julie DesBrisay – 3:40:43
4th Margi Pazkowski – 3:40:43
4th Jenn Roberts – 3:40:43
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org