James Minifie has only been living in Whitehorse for a year and has already won two very different cycling races during his first full summer in the territory.
At the end of June, Minifie won the solo-men division at the 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival, an institution for Yukon mountain bikers, completing 23 laps of the 13-kilometre course in the span of a day.
On Sunday, Minifie added another to the list, winning the solo men’s division at the Southern Lakes Bike Loppet, perhaps one of Yukon’s best-kept road-cycling secrets.
“It’s a good event and it was fun – a little less wind would be good,” said Minifie. “We only got rained on for 10 minutes.
“If anyone is wondering about coming out next year, it’s a great event.”
Minifie completed the 173-kilometre loop from Carcross to Lorne Mountain, to Golden Horn, to Marsh Lake, to Tagish and back to Carcross in five hours and seven minutes, three minutes ahead of second-place finisher Darryl Hansell. Tying for third were Jamie Bissell and Stephen Ball, coming in with a time of 5:17.
Starting with a pack of six before dropping a pair of riders just before returning to Carcross, the top four solo men spent the entire race in a pack before breaking up in the final kilometres.
“It was good. There was quite a lot of headwind, but we stuck together as a group for almost the whole way until 40-kilometres left to go,” said Minifie. “Next to Carcross there’s a big hill and we broke up there.”
Not officially associated with the Yukon’s premier road cycling club, VeloNorth, the loppet, now in its fourth year, is off many cyclists’ radars, but still drew 94 riders, about 25 fewer than the race’s largest turnout.
However, the loppet can now be described as an international event with cyclists from Alaska taking part this year, including Skagway’s Bissell, who won VeloNorth’s Skagway Hill Climb in May.
“That’s really nice that they have started coming over,” said race organizer Simi Morrison. “Those guys said they got organized a little late, but they know they have friends that want to enter another team next year.”
Although the race saw a record nine-solo riders entered, the open women’s division had only one entry, Whitehorse’s Trena Irving, coming in with a time of 5:57:00.
“That’s just the way it goes. I guess no one was stupid enough to sign up to do the whole thing,” said Irving. “But it was great.”
Irving was not only second in the solo women’s division of the Tour de Whitehorse in July, she was also the Yukon’s top solo women rider in the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay, coming fifth in the division.
“My goal this year was to be in under six hours,” she added. “Three minutes might not sound like a lot, but when you have a goal it is.”
Unique to races in the Yukon, the loppet uses the same course each year, but rotates the start/finish line through the five communities. Next year’s race will begin and finish in Mt. Lorne.
“What I like about it is the five communities get together. I think this is one of the few events where five communities work together on one event,” said Morrison. “I hope it will grow a little bit more even though some people like the smaller races too.”
1st James Minifie – 5:07:00
2nd Darryl Hansell – 5:10:00
3rd Jamie Bissell – 5:17:00
3rd Stephen Ball – 5:17:00
1st Trena Irving – 5:57:00
Duo men teams
1st Elijah Buggalo/Lawrence Ignace – 5:17:30
2nd Keith Parkkari/ Derek Enchess – 5:50:40
Duo mixed teams
1st Simi Morrison/Jonathan Lucas – 6:04:00
Three-to-five person mixed teams
1st Paul Gort/Nadele Flynn/Peter Heebink/Shannon Stotyn/Scott Flemming – 5:17:30
2nd Stephanie Olson/Lucas Haalland/Patrick O’Malley – 5:33:00
3rd Rick Boyd, Mari-Ann Campbell, Frank Campbell, Anne Marie Peeters
Three-to-five person women teams
1st Kaelin Shea/Margo Hager/Jen Moran/Caroline Coombs – 5:27:00
2nd Kathleen Froze/Joanne
Pare/Jennifer King/Monica Gison – 5:58:00
3rd Lissa Abel/Lynda Harlow/Brittni Waddington/Laurette Sylvain/Nathalie Hahn – 7:04:00
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