Long lives the king! Whitehorse’s Jonah Clark maintained his status of Yukon mountain bike royalty at the King of the Canyon on Sunday.
Clark won his second straight men’s long-course division of the race, which is the Yukon Mountain Bike Championships, starting and ending at the Schwatka Lake boat launch.
It feels “really good,” said Clark. “It was a really good ride overall. Some of the other guys who would put up a fight first place, weren’t here. Regardless, I was really happy with how I rode. I set myself some goals for speed and time and I met those.”
Clark, who won the crown for the first time last year, completed the 49 kilometre course – up Downtown Boogaloo to Long Lake, up Grey Mountain and down the Yukon River Trail – in two hours, 25 minutes and 49 seconds.
James Minifie cycled to second with a time of 2:37:43 and Aaron Foos rode to third in 3:03:16. Clark and Minifie built a 50-yard lead over the rest of the field within the first minute of the race.
“That’s my style of racing,” said Clark. “I like to go really hard right off the bat.
“When you go to the bigger races that’s how it tends to go. If you can’t go with an insane pace right off the bat, you’re going to miss the move. I like to ride like that.”
Clark was the Yukon’s top finisher at the B.C. Bike Race in July. He came 14th out of 119 riders in the Epic division of the seven-day, seven-stage mountain bike race in southern B.C. Minifie was the second Yukoner in at B.C. Bike Race, taking 24th.
“It went great. It was an even better ride than last year,” said Clark of Sunday. “Doing B.C. Bike Race and stuff (I had) tons of fitness, so I felt really good.
“It was really fast and pretty much what I wanted to do. The course was really good this year; it was different from previous years.”
Clark has twice won the solo division the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay and also won the 2007 Tour de Whitehorse. Minifie and Clark teamed up to win the two-person men’s division at the Kluane Chilkat in June.
Three new royals were crowned following Sunday’s championship. Meagan Wilson became the new queen while Mark Nelson and Christine Kirk were crowned prince and princess for winning in the short-course division.
“I didn’t think I would win,” said Wilson. “It’s kind of exciting.”
Wilson won with a time of 3:34:45. In second was Bobbi Wilcox at 3:38:16 and Sierra van der Meer in third at 3:43:42.
Absent from the race was three-time queen Tamara Goeppel.
Wilson placed third in the solo-women category at the 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival behind two Anchorage riders in June. She also won the sprint division at the 2010 Whitehorse Triathlon.
“It was fun,” said Wilson. “The trails weren’t new, I bike on them all the time, but I’ve never done the race. I wasn’t going to but Dean (Eyre) from Cadence (Cycle) convinced me.”
Both prince and princess were also first-timers in the championship. In fact, it was Kirk’s first mountain bike race, period.
“I’ve never done anything like this,” said Kirk. “I mountain bike, but I’ve never gone into mountain bike race.
“Next year I’ll probably go in it again.”
Kirk completed the 27.5-kilometre short course, which was mostly on the Yukon River Trail, in 2:01:05, beating out Kirsten Hogan (2:09:04) and Veronica Huggard (2:12:47).
Though new to mountain bike racing, Kirk won the two-person women’s division in the Kluane Chilkat with Natasha Dunmall in June.
“I started with road cycling and switched to mountain biking,” said Kirk. “I just rode and had fun. I ride these trails normally. To ride them faster is fun.”
Nelson was crowned prince with a winning time of 1:43:15. In second was Shea Hoffman (1:54:09), who won the youth men division of the Tour of Juneau the previous weekend. Guillaume Levesque snagged third in 2:08:03.
“I’ve done some of the other bike races in town, but this is my first time doing King of the Canyon,” said Nelson. “It was very good. I’ve rode these trails a fair bit before… I’ve been away for a month and I didn’t ride a lot while I was away, so it was nice get back and do this.”
Nelson was on the winning eight-person team at the 2009 24 Hours of Light Festival. He tied for second with his team in the same division this past June.
The King of the Canyon race, which is hosted by the Contagious Mountain Bike Club, is held on different trails each year.
“It’s always a different course because we try to highlight some of the newer trails that have been built,” said club president van der Meer. “We also try to use a different course than what’s been used in other races during the year.”
Though the event often marks the end of the racing season, that’s not the case this year. Contagious has teamed up with an Alaskan club to host a two-part international cyclocross series. There will be one in Skagway on August 26 and the other in Whitehorse on September 1.
The Whitehorse race, called Dawn of the Living Tread, will have a zombie theme, with cyclists donning zombie costumes and makeup.
More information can be found at cmbcyukon.ca.
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