Gonda crowned King of the Canyon

According to mountain biker Ian Parker, training and working hard will get most riders a lot farther than leisure riding and pints of beer.

According to mountain biker Ian Parker, training and working hard will get most riders a lot farther than leisure riding and pints of beer.

“(David Gonda) is just getting stronger and stronger this year, having benefited from his training for the Canada Summer Games,” said Parker.

“That’s the difference between training and just riding. My big event was back in June, nice and early, so I spent the rest of the summer just having fun riding, and Dave has been training and it shows.

“When the heat is on, the guy doing the training is going to beat the guy who’s been drinking beer and just having fun – unless it’s Jonah (Clarke). Jonah can drink beer and have fun, and still beat everyone.”

Gonda, who recently competed at the Canada Summer Games, getting his best result in the cross-country event with a 29th place finish, showed why he had on a Team Yukon jersey as he cruised to victory at the King of the Canyon, the cross-country mountain bike championship for the Yukon on Saturday. Gonda finished the 47-kilometre course in three hours, six minutes and nine seconds.

“It was definitely a hard race and I just gave it all I could until the end,” said Gonda. “I’m happy with how it turned out.

“It’s pretty hard going along the river trail when you’re just on the ridge. You’re so tired in the third hour, in the last 20 minutes.”

For most of the second half of the race Gonda and Parker were neck-and-neck, with Parker moving into first for a short period, blowing by Gonda at the final feed station as he stopped for water.

“I wasn’t too worried about it,” said Gonda. “We were kind of riding together and I knew he wouldn’t be too far.”

However, Parker failed to hold the No. 2 spot as former champ Jonah Clarke managed to overcome leg cramps and was able to move from fourth up to second, finishing 21 seconds ahead of Parker with a time of 3:06:28.

“My muscles were just locking up and not feeling good,” said Clarke. “But I stopped at the last aid station and ate a lot of cookies, chocolate and stuff. And I got a bottle of Gatorade and that seemed to slowly pull me around.

“Marcus (Waterreus) started cramping in front of me – I could see it – and then I caught up with Parker right at the end because he was cramping too. Everybody was having cramps.

“It’s a good thing I stopped and ate.”

Only nine riders came out for the event, down from about 20 to 30 in recent years, with no women or junior competitors entered. The winner of the previous two championships, Daniel Sessford, was also absent from the event.

The low numbers are a disappointment to this year’s organizer, Bill Slater, but perhaps the race was a missed opportunity for absent riders, missing the warm weather and good trail conditions.

“The weather today was spectacular,” said the 24-kilometre short-course winner, Evan Wise. “The trail was nice and fast; the rain (on Friday) gave it lots of grip and lots of texture, so you can go up all the hills easily. You get really good traction if it rains the day before; if it’s too dry you just spin out.”

The race started and finished at the Schwatka Lake Recreation Area, taking riders through the Chadburn, Bogaloo and Magnusson Trails, and partway up Grey Mountain – twice.

“A lot of it is on trails that were made for mountain biking,” said Slater. “As a mountain bike course it’s really fun and offers a nice day of riding. I’ve ridden a lot of courses that are not nearly as good as this one.”


Long course (47 km)

1st Dave Gonda – 3:06:09

2nd Jonah Clark – 3:08:28

3rd Ian Parker – 3:08:49

4th Marcus Waterreus – 3:12:16

5th Honza Galac – 3:47:00

6th Petr Polivko – 3:54:01

7th Dan Reimer – DNF

Short course (24 km)

1st Evan Wise – 1:46:25

2nd Geof Harries – 2:11:40

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