Less than a year after doctors told him his cycling days were over, Whitehorse’s Preston Blackie claimed his fourth Yukon cycling title, completing a sweep in the expert men division.
“It’s pretty cool. Considering the winter I had and how bleak things looked going into this year, I feel very fortunate that I’m in the position I’m in that I’m strong enough and fit enough to win these races, let alone compete in them,” said Blackie. “It’s pretty cool. I didn’t think I would be competitive this year, that I’d be able to race at all.”
Blackie topped the expert men’s division at the Yukon Criterium Championships, hosted by U Kon Echelon last Wednesday in the Marwell area.
The 37-year-old had already won all three stages of the Tour de Whitehorse the previous weekend, picking up the hill climb, individual time trial and road race Yukon titles.
All this after just seven months after doctors told him he might have to learn to walk again. Early last December Blackie broke his leg by simply stepping out of his truck. An early diagnosis was cancer and he was told he could lose his leg. It turned out that Blackie’s tibia had been compromised by a bone infection.
He had an operation earlier this year in which much of his tibia was replaced with polymethyl methacrylate, commonly called “bone cement.”
Since then the former pro mountain biker won the Tour de Skagway, the solo and overall titles in the Southern Lakes GranFondo, and the solo title at the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay.
He took first last week by beating Marc Lapointe, president of the Cycling Association of Yukon, in a sprint to the finish.
“It was a good race. It was more competitive than the other races in the crit series,” said Blackie. “Usually in the crit series races, because we’re trying to encourage beginners and more people to come out, in a 45-minute crit the first 20 minutes is neutral, which means there’s no attacking. We ride as a group.
“With the crit championships, there wasn’t that. It was a race right from the start line. It was a tough race – everyone went pretty hard, and there were definitely some tactics in there.”
Whitehorse’s Trena Irving won her second title in two weeks at the crit championship. Irving, who won the time trial at the Tour de Whitehorse, placed first in expert women. Jillian Chown, who won the Tour de Whitehorse, did not finish.
“Jillian would have finished ahead of me, but she got to 40 minutes and she wasn’t sure how much longer it was … She just didn’t have enough gas to go another five minutes,” said Irving. “She was riding with the expert guys and she pushed really, really hard.
“I rode by myself, but I don’t mind. If I don’t have people my speed, I just go by myself.”
Mollie Fraser didn’t have anyone in her category to race, so instead she took on the boys and won. Fraser was the top junior rider, beating Marsh Lake brothers Cauis and Lucas Taggart-Cox in a sprint to the finish.
“She trains super hard. She’s the kid who gives 150 to 200 per cent in everything,” said Irving, who is head coach of U Kon Echelon. “That’s going to serve her well as time goes on because when you put that kind of time into the training, eventually when her skill level raises up, it’s a winning combination.”
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1st Lucas Taggart-Cox
2nd Kaden Gregory
3rd Johna Irving-Staley
4th Olie Johnson
5th Taiga Burman
1st Annie Cable
2nd Ava Irving-Staley
1st Mollie Fraser
1st Cauis Taggart-Cox
1st Micah Taggart -Cox
1st David Jackson
1st Preston Blackie
2nd Marc Lapointe
3rd Matthias Purdon
4th Shea Hoffman
1st Trena Irving
Jillian Chown DNF