Inclusive team ready to roll

The Kluane-Chilkat International Bike Relay is a Yukon institution, returning each year, maybe a little bigger, or with some new rules about gear to…

The Kluane-Chilkat International Bike Relay is a Yukon institution, returning each year, maybe a little bigger, or with some new rules about gear to consider — but it remains essentially unchanged. The relay is what it is.

This year is an exception.

One team of Yukon athletes, dubbed Ynklude is breaking down a barrier that some might have never considered.

Under the guidance of the Yukon Association for Community Living, a 15-strong contingent of disabled and non-disabled riders will tackle a modified course from Haines Junction to Haines — an experience that will be something brand-new for them and for the Relay.

And with hand-cycles, various trikes and even a modified BMX, they’ll have some of the coolest bikes out there.

Megan Gates, with her 21-speed recumbent three-wheeler, is pretty much guaranteed to have a one-of-a-kind ride for Saturday’s relay.

“I just thought, why not?” said Gates, when asked why she signed up. “I get to meet people and join in with everything else that’s happening.”

And that’s what the whole thing is about, according to the association’s Julie Robinson, who spearheaded the idea alongside team captain and Yukon Association for Community Living president Joanne Stanhope.

Robinson said that people with disabilities are often shut out of mainstream community events, like the Bike Relay, confined to specialized activities which segregate them.

“To be there, to get over the starting gate is, in many ways the biggest hurdle to get over — just being invited to the party is the hardest part,” said Robinson.

“I think it’s wonderful, actually — it’s like we’re all equal and anybody can do it,” said Carrie Rudolph, who plans to use her wheelchair to participate.

The team’s starter, Julien Richard, is no slouch on two wheels.

“He wanted to do the whole race himself — it’s nothing for him to hop on his bike and go to Carmacks,” said Robinson.

Richard will ride as far as he likes, before the team’s modified course will see David Skelton ride leg six into Alaska.

After that, the rest of the team will work together to finish the last 80-kilometres into Haines.

Riders will switch off when they’ve had enough.

“This is a test-run; we want it to be positive for them,” said Robinson. “You know those typical people who do one leg and say ‘never again!’ — we want to minimize that as much as possible. We want to keep the energy up so that next year, people will want to go longer.”

It seems like that won’t be a problem, with more interest in joining the team than Stanhope could accommodate.

In the end, Stanhope, Robinson and the Yukon Association for Community Living hope to make inclusion of disabled people in the bike relay and other community events a regular part of life in the territory.

“I look at it this way, this year it’s a news event — next year it’s not,” said Stanhope. “It’s a new standard that’s set.”

Just Posted

A new leash on life: Injured Whitehorse pup settles into new home

‘I think now he’s less of a perfect dog but he’s more himself’

Yukon well represented in Olympic ski relays

‘It’s always rewarding when you’re racing for a team’

Yukon government launches new website and logo

Opposition slams $500K project cost as a waste

Former Whitehorse gas station employee sues over alleged sexual harassment, assault

Susan Lynn Keleher alleges there was a ‘campaign’ of sexual harassment and assault against her

Tagish dog rescue owner says she’s euthanized 10 dogs

Shelley Cuthbert said she put down 10 dogs after surrendering them to the animal health unit Feb. 15

No Resource Gateway construction work this season, YG says

‘We’re not as advanced as we would have liked to have been but we still are advancing’

Former Whitehorse RCMP officer gets conditional discharge for sexual assault

Judge Richard Scheider sided with the defence’s argument that conditional discharge was appropriate

Tagish dog rescue owner asks court to change dog surrender order

Shelley Cuthbert is asking for changes to an order requiring her to surrender 10 dogs per month

Team Yukon has strong showing at Whistler Super Youth and Timber Tour

‘Anwyn absolutely destroyed the competition’

Yukon skier turns in personal best at Junior World Championships

‘It was another great international racing experience’

Most Canadians believe journalism plays critical role in democracy: poll

Survey suggests 94 per cent of Canadians feel journalism plays ‘important’ part

Yukon child care deal to fund grandparents, courses for caregivers

‘How this is completely going to look, we’re still working on’

Full house for annual Native Bonspiel in Haines Junction

The 36th annual Yukon Native Bonspiel from Feb. 2 to 4 saw… Continue reading

Most Read