Not everyone was waxing their skis before the start of the 30th annual NorthwesTel Yukon Loppet at the Whitehorse Nordic Centre on Saturday. Some were checking tire pressures.
For the first time a snowbike race was held in conjunction with the ski loppet.
Yukon’s Contagious Mountain Bike Club “helped out, but it was the ski club and the NorthwesTel Loppet committee that started it,” said Contagious president Sierra van der Meer.
“Mount McIntyre just opened up some of the single-track trails to mountain biking, so we’re allowed to snowbike on some of the trails in the winter. We’ve just been developing a partnership in the last couple of months to allow snowbiking in the area.”
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Nine cyclists raced in the loppet on modified mountain bikes with big tires like giant donuts.
Preston Blackie had the fastest time on the roughly nine-kilometre course, finishing in 40 minutes and 48 seconds.
“It was a good event. It was really fun – excellent course,” said Blackie. “It was a good time for sure.
“Snow definitely adds a new element to mountain bike racing. It definitely makes it a little trickier.”
Snowbiking is less forgiving than regular mountain biking. It’s a bit of a tightrope ride. The trail is packed down, but if a rider goes off it, he or she can sink into deep snow.
“And it’s a dead stop and you come off the bike and you need to get back on again,” said Blackie. “It wastes a lot of time and energy. If we were on dirt, if you go off the trail a little bit, you just keep going.
“It’s like riding a skinny or
It was Blackie’s first time racing on a “fat bike.” His strategy: “Stay ahead of everybody else,” he said. “The trail gets chewed up and then it gets hard to ride when it gets soft. “
Van der Meer was the fastest female rider, finishing the course in 54:52.
About 140 cross-country skiers competed in the loppet.
Chris Schmidt and Pippa Lawson had the fastest times for male and female in the 45-kilometre event.
Trevor Bray and Brittany Pearson-Smith were fastest in the 30-kilometre race. Stephen Clayton and Holly Bull placed first in the 15-kilometre races.
Liam Mather and Regan Fuerstner topped the 7.5-kilometre peewee divisions.
Atom boys racer Mettias Schmidt and peewee girls Dahlia LaPointe produced the fastest times in the three-kilometre races.
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