Miserable turnout for miserable race

VeloNorth Cycling Club's season finale didn't have the draw organizers were hoping for. It might have been the time of year. Maybe cyclists had other things on the go.

VeloNorth Cycling Club’s season finale didn’t have the draw organizers were hoping for.

It might have been the time of year. Maybe cyclists had other things on the go. Maybe they decided to go mountain biking instead.

Most likely, they didn’t want to do one of the most challenging, leg-burning rides of the year in the rain on a cold day.

Only three cyclists came out for the Skagway Hill Classic on Sunday.

They left the start line just outside of Skagway in pouring rain with thermometers struggling to reach eight degree Celsius. They rode 19 kilometres, climbing roughly 1,000-metres in altitude to the White Pass.

“In the warm coziness of our living rooms the call to take on the ultimate climbing test – the Skagway Hill – washes over us as a call to arms which we must answer. For we are cyclists. We are the hard and hearty willing to suffer in the pursuit of the ultimate prize,” said VeloNorth president Mike McCann in an email to the News. “The ‘prize’ is different for all of us. It could be reaching the top without putting a foot down; holding 300 watts; spinning at 90-plus for 19 km; or simply getting our lazy asses out of bed and into the car and driving to Skagway regardless of the conditions.”

Juneau’s Rob Welton, Carcross’ Simi Morrison and Whitehorse’s David Jackson answered the call.

The drive over the pass into Skagway filled Morrison with trepidation.

“When I drove into Skagway it was a north wind, so I was really worried about going up. You don’t really need headwinds on that uphill. I was like, ‘I’m not sure if I should do this today.’ When we came to the bottom, it just poured.

“It wasn’t the kind of weather in which you feel like hopping on the bike and going for a ride,” she added. “But it was OK. As long as you’re going uphill, you’re not getting cold.”

Welton was first to the top. The masters-age rider reached the finish line in one hour, 13 minutes and 20 seconds. Morrison arrived second at 1:31:16. The undaunted Jackson, who had a flu bug to make matters worse, came in at 1:39:18.

Morrison considered the race a great training ride for a 120-kilometre gran fondo from Vancouver to Whistler this month.

She was also pleased she cut over four minutes off her time from May when U Kon Echelon included the hill climb in the Tour de Skagway.

However, there was one last disappointment for Morrision, in addition to the weather and the small turnout.

“I was really disappointed the Thai place wasn’t open, because that was my motivator,” said Morrison, referring to Skagway’s Starfire restaurant.

“There were a lot or races locally this season … U Kon Echelon and VeloNorth, they had a really good schedule,” she added. “A big thank you to everyone who put in the time and effort into organizing it. I hope it’s all going to be back next season.”

Contact Tom Patrick at


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