Royalty of the Canyon mountain bike race winners crowned despite COVID changes

The self-timed event format didn’t dampen competition over the weekend event

Whitehorse has a new royal family, announced Aug. 23 based on the fastest 50-kilometre and 25-kilometre race times in the Contagious Mountain Bike Club’s (CMBC) annual Royalty of the Canyon mountain bike race.

This year’s race had a different format for the pandemic. Rather than a group start time, riders went at their own pace during the weekend following a flagged route and reporting their times after solo finishes.

Sierra Vandermeer is the new queen, finishing the 50-kilometre track in three hours and 17 minutes, beating the female runner-up by around two minutes.

Ian Parker, a Royalty of the Canyon regular, took the king position for finishing the 50-kilometre track in two hours and 52 minutes.

The 25-kilometre leaders were Maude Molgat, a returning champion who retains her princess position from 2019 with a time of two hours and 2 minutes, and Evan Wise, who finished in one hour and 28 minutes to secure the prince title.

Race times were self-reported this year due to COVID-19.

Organizer Colin McCann said it was a challenge to run the event during a pandemic. Originally this year, the club planned to include two extra categories for riders under ages 18 and 12, but the changes were shelved due to the pandemic.

“The club is not interested in testing the waters or taking chances so I just ran the regular event categories, as self-timed and self-supported,” he said.

McCann said the numbers are always highly dependent on weather, but he was unsure what participation would be like this year with a new race format.

“This was a good year for me as an organizer. You never know how it’s going to go. So this year, considering COVID and a wide-open window, I’d call this a success by the numbers,” he said.

“Good vibes shared to me by all considering the event was self-timed with no support, no aid stations, no first aid support, no barbecue, no music, no bevies, no cheering or cowbell. We would all like to see that stuff come back next year of course.”

The race event, normally held over one day with a group start time, was spread over two days between Aug. 22 and 23. Riders pre-registered and timed their route using tracking technology.

In total, 36 riders completed the trail over the two days, from ages 10 to 60.

The 50-kilometre loop started at the Schwatka Lake Boat Launch, heading north on the Upper Riverdale Trail and back down around the Grey Mountain trail area, before continuing back around the Yukon River Trail. The total route covers 1,800 metres of elevation.

The shorter 25-kilometre loop cut out the northern Riverdale portion, with the same start and finish but with a total elevation gain of 456 metres.

Damp conditions over the two days added a slippery challenge to what is generally a friendly moderate cross-country route, said Wise.

Parker admitted to taking a brief dive into slippery roots and leaves during a lapse of concentration, although it didn’t have enough impact on his overall time to prevent him from taking first place.

While the socially-distant event format was short on cheering, it had its advantages, according to Vandermeer.

“It’s hard to compare, they’re two very different experiences. I think it’s amazing that the club did all that work to set up an event so that we could participate during COVID when it’s harder to do things the way we used to do them,” she said.

Vandermeer said the flexible start times of the COVID-19 format allowed her to work around a busy weekend schedule with her young family.

“That extra flexibility was advantageous to me. When you’re not at the start line with a bunch of other people, you really ride your own race, you’re not riding in response to other people. That’s also the disadvantage, when you have other people you push yourself in other ways,” she said.

The lack of other riders on the course didn’t dampen a friendly competitive spirit either — Vandermeer said she was in contact with rival royalty well before the official times were posted online at the end of the weekend.

Parker, who has competed in a number of the Canyon races over the event’s history, praised McCann’s trail marking, which was even more important this year as riders had no one to follow around turns and trailforks.

“The riding part is always fairly predictable, it’s the trails in our backyard and it’s an amazing feast of world class singletrack all packaged together and marked,” he said. “I’m so grateful to CMBC for organizing this event and motivating people to get out on their bikes this summer.”

Contact Haley Ritchie at

Mountain Lion attack

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Just Posted

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

Yukon NDP leader Kate White, surrounded by socially distanced candidates, announces her platform in Whitehorse on March 29. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Kate White and the Yukon NDP Platform

A detailed look at the NDP platform and Kate White’s leadership campaign this election

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Sandy Silver announces the territorial election in Whitehorse. Silver is seeking a second term as premier and third term as Klondike MLA. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Getting to know Sandy Silver and the Yukon Liberal platform

Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is vying for a second term as… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media in Whitehorse on October 30, 2020. Hanley is now encouraging Yukon to continue following health regulations, noting it could still be some time before changes to restrictions are made. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
No active COVID cases in Yukon

Hanley highlights concerns over variants, encourages vaccinations

Most Read