Mathilde Roldan races to an early lead at the start of the Porter Creek mountain bike race on May 31. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge spurs mountain bike races in Whitehorse

“I have to remind myself to do that sometimes – just slow down and look around.”

The ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge is running May 31 to June 16 with $150,000 on the line for Canada’s most active community.

Held annually, the challenge aims to “get neighbourhoods across the country moving together” and includes prizes for top communities.

In addition to the $150,000 grand prize, finalists from across the country will also be recognized and awarded $20,000 for their communities.

As of 5 p.m. on June 4, Whitehorse is fifth among communities in the North in terms of minutes of activity and five of the top 10 northern communities are in the Yukon.

Here in Whitehorse, the cycling community is holding a series of mountain bike races as a way to get the ball rolling.

The first race was May 31 near Porter Creek Secondary School with a total of 18 kids who rode one, two or three laps of the course, and the second race was June 3 near the dog parking lot at Mount McIntyre with a similar turnout.

Trena Irving, organizer and board member with the Cycling Association of Yukon, said the interest is a positive sign.

“On that board, the CAY board, one of my mandates is I really want to have competitive mountain biking, and the only way to do that is to have races,” said Irving. “So this is really great to see there is interest from parents and kids at a young age to come out and race because I think we have a lot of mountain bike riding happening and a lot of skills and a lot of fun. All that’s great – I think the only thing missing is to maybe have a bit of a race series and have people coming out and racing once a week.”

The loop at Mount McIntyre was both longer and more challenging than the Porter Creek loop, but Irving said all the riders were up to it.

“It is challenging climbing hills, but that’s good because that’s part of cross-country mountain biking,” said Irving. “You’re not doing downhill, it’s not enduro, it’s cross-country — so it’s up and down and flowy.”

While Irving traditionally is directly involved in course flagging, she got help this time out from JF and Mathilde Roldan who setup the course.

“(They) picked a good course,” said Irving. “I had no idea exactly where we’d be going. I just said, ‘This is what we did last year’ and I found it fun — challenging, but fun.”

If there are any mountain bikers or aspiring mountain bikers out there looking to get involved, the final Community Better Challenge race is June 10 starting shortly after 4 p.m. from the dog parking lot near Mount McIntyre off of Hamilton Boulevard.

“The youngest kid who did one lap here is five,” said Irving after the second race. “If he can do it with his mom following him, I think someone else can do it. Go at a slower pace, take it easy and look around you and enjoy the spectacular Yukon beauty. Sometimes when we’re racing we forget to do that. I have to remind myself to do that sometimes – just slow down and look around.”

For more information on the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge, go to community.participaction.com, and for more information on the June 10 race, contact Trena Irving at trenairving@gmail.com.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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Riders make their way along the trails near Porter Creek Secondary School. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

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