The VeloNorth Cycling Club’s annual Skagway Hill Climb saw a new and a repeat winner on Sunday in Skagway, Alaska.
Whitehorse’s Jonah Clark, a first-time competitor in the race, captured the expert men’s division and Whitehorse’s Tamara Goeppel won the expert women’s class for a third straight year.
“I liked it in that perverse way that an hour of hellishly painful riding is kind of fun when you think about it afterwards,” said Clark. “When you’re actually doing it, you’re focusing on keeping your effort hard, pacing yourself over the whole climb, making sure you don’t blow up before the top. Making sure you use everything in your tank by the time you get up there. I felt I did a pretty good job of that.”
Clark completed the 19-kilometre time trial race from Skagway to the White Pass summit, climbing roughly 1,000-metres in altitude, in 57 minutes and 47 seconds. While Clark was the only rider to break the hour mark, he was still six minutes off of the record time of 51:39 set by Whitehorse’s Troy Henry in 2009.
“We had a little bit of a headwind going up, so it wasn’t going to be a record setting ride,” said Clark.
Taking second was Whitehorse triathlon champ Karl Blattmann, ahead of Whitehorse’s Sean McCarron in third.
The problem with holding a race so close to the Canada-U.S. border is the start time can get a little baffling with the time-zone change. Goeppel, like a few others, arrived an hour too early and got an early start in the time trial.
“It was kind of lonely, because we were on our own, and you don’t suffer as much as when you have your cycling friends around you, pushing you,” said Goeppel. “But the weather was a lot friendlier than last year. Last year was very cold, foggy and miserable. This year there was some sunshine – a little bit of a headwind, but still, it was shorts weather.”
Last year’s race featured a slew of crummy riding conditions, but they didn’t prevent Geoppel from setting a course record for expert women. In the 2011 race Goeppel completed the course in 59:11 to break the course record she set in 2010.
On Sunday her time was one hour and one minute – the second fastest overall. (Seconds were not available for all times.)
Clark, who was the 2007 Tour de Whitehorse champion and has twice won the solo men’s category at the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Race, is preparing to compete in the weeklong B.C. Bike Race from Victoria to Whistler. He is also riding on a two-man team in the Kluane Chilkat race next month.
His win on Sunday made it two in a row for Clark in VeloNorth races, having won the North Klondike Road Race on May 12.
Goeppel has already had her weeklong mountain bike race this year. She and partner Thomas Tetz competed in the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa, an eight-day race spanning 800 kilometres, climbing 16,000 metres in elevation.
Both Clark and Goeppel are the current Yukon mountain biking champions. They won both the men’s and women’s titles at last summer’s King of the Canyon race.
High school cyclists will be out racing this Thursday in the High School Road Race on the Hamilton Boulevard extension. Organizer Trena Irving, who finished second in expert women on Sunday, hopes more students will sign up for the race, which begins at the Rock Garden parking lot at 1 p.m.
1st Jonah Clark – 57:47
2nd Karl Blattmann – 1:03
3rd Sean McCarron – 1:08
4th Martin Stopper – 1:18:41
1st Tamara Goeppel – 1:01
2nd Trena Irving – 1:31:18
1st Spencer Morgan – 1:10:33
2nd Shea Hoffman – 1:16:21
3rd Dustin Kramey – 1:20:46
4th Phil Hoffman – 1:26:08
1st Olivia Findlay – 1:41.27
1st Calden Hoefs – 1:27:53
2nd Caleb McPherson – 1:41.53
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