Johna Irving-Staley, left, and Ava Irving-Staley, right, show off their trophies following the 2019 Tour of Juneau. (Submitted)

Cyclists compete at Tour of Juneau

“They love to see us coming — they’re very welcoming. It’s a great environment to race”

Half a dozen Yukoners were in Juneau, Alaska, for the Tour of Juneau stage cycling race from Aug. 16 to 18 hosted by the Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club.

The tour started with a prologue, an approximately two-mile (three-kilometre) race, on Aug. 16, followed by a 4.5-mile (seven-km) hill climb and a nine-mile (14-km) time trial on Aug. 17. The tour concluded with an approximately 60-mile (96-km) road race on Aug. 18.

Joining the field of nearly two dozen riders were Yukoners David Jackson, Ava Irving-Staley, Johna Irving-Staley, Peter Staley, Trena Irving and Veronica Porter.

Irving, head coach for the U Kon Echelon Bike Club, said the riders all found success on their bikes.

“Ava did really well. She really went beyond what she thought she could do,” said Irving. “(Jackson) was fighting hard in every race to do his (personal records) and best times.”

Jackson found the podium in the road race, Irving said, finishing either second or third and also finished third in the expert men GC — general classification — or overall standings.

Both Irving and Porter weren’t feeling their best, but raced in all four disciplines.

“We were trying to race our best without pushing it too far to make it worse,” explained Irving.

The race was just days after the Western Canada Summer Games cycling competition ended, meaning Ava and Porter had little time to recover.

“Even though it was close after the (WCSG), my kids love to go to Juneau and I try to talk it up to all the athletes,” said Irving. “They love to see us coming — they’re very welcoming. It’s a great environment to race.”

While some races are doing away with youth categories and simply combining riders of different ages and genders together, the Tour of Juneau has taken a different tact.

“They make a big deal about the kids coming,” said Irving. “They give the kids trophies at the end and lots of prizes and lots of praise. That is so good for a young rider’s self-esteem.”

One of the things that stood out to Irving was Porter’s performance in the road race.

“Veronica, being sick, did the shorter distance in the road race and she rode with a girl from Juneau and kind of mentored her in the race,” said Irving. “That was super cool. I was impressed because it just gave them a chance to connect and sort of become friends and for Veronica to teach her a little bit of what she knows about racing.”

Johna was the lone youth men’s rider, but Irving said he raced hard all weekend.

“He did very well in all of his races (and) his sprints at the end,” said Irving. “It was good.”

Irving said the race is one she will continue to try to fit into her schedule each year.

“I like to go whenever I can to that event because they are by far the nicest people you’re ever going to meet.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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