Kluane Chilkat relay to ring in 20th year

The Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay is the largest sports competition, participation wise, in the Yukon and it shows no signs of dropping that distinction.

The Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay is the largest sports competition, participation wise, in the Yukon and it shows no signs of dropping that distinction.

The 238-kilometre annual race from Haines Junction to Haines, Alaska, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year when it is held on June 16.

To make the event more memorable, organizers commissioned Whitehorse First Nation artist Mark Preston to design a cycling jersey to commemorate the occasion.

“It’s a high-end cycling shirt I think people will want to wear, not just put in a drawer,” said race organizer Mike Gladish.

The jersey, which features Northwest Coast art, went through a number of phases to arrive at its final design.

“It’s a far cry from what it originally was designed like,” said Preston. “When I was approached with the idea, I came up with this very bright, almost outrageous jersey. As time went by in the process of redesigning it, it became a lot more simplified.”

It was difficult to avoid Preston’s art last month in Whitehorse, with the artist having designed many of the images in the Arctic Winter Games posters and banners. He has also had shows at the North End Gallery, Yukon Gallery and Arts Underground.

Those wishing to get the memorial jersey, which carries an extra cost, have to register by April 29. The final entry deadline for the race is June 8.

The relay will continue to have its 1,200-rider limit this year. However, race officials have raised the limit for the ever-popular eight-person teams division.

“Last year we set it at 85 and then we got to 85 teams but we still had less than 1,200 riders, so we opened it up to 95 teams,” said Gladish. “The problem is if you get up to 120 eight-person teams, all of a sudden you’re filling up the 1,200 and there’s no room for twos or fours (or solo riders).”

This year’s captains’ briefing will take place at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre in Whitehorse on June 12, instead of in Haines Junction as usual.

Local riders won almost twice as many divisions in the race last year than in 2010.

Yukon teams won seven of the race’s 11 divisions, leaving just one for Juneau, one for Fairbanks and two for Skagway.

While Skagway captured the mixed eight-person division – the race’s largest – Whitehorse riders won both the prestigious solo categories for the first time in six years.

Taking the solo wins were VeloNorth cyclists Stephen Ball and Trena Irving, both coming within minutes of course records.

On-line registration at www.kcibr.org is now open.

There will be a second captains’ meeting at the Haines Junction Convention Centre on June 15 at 8 p.m.

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com