Small turnout for VeloNorth season closer

With the Klondike Trail of '98 international Road Relay taking place this weekend, it seems many of VeloNorth's cyclists have already traded in their bikes for running shoes.

With the Klondike Trail of ‘98 international Road Relay taking place this weekend, it seems many of VeloNorth’s cyclists have already traded in their bikes for running shoes.

This was evident at VeloNorth’s second installment of the Skagway Hill Climb race this season on Sunday. The smallest turnout of the season, only four cyclists attempted the 19-kilometre time trial from Skagway to the White Pass Summit, climbing roughly 1,000 metres in altitude.

“I think that because we planned this race late in the season, most people are probably thinking about the Klondike Road Relay,” said VeloNorth’s Mike McCann. “I think if it was maybe a week sooner, it may have more people.”

Though small in size, the race was nonetheless an international one with two Alaskans coming out, including Juneau’s Rob Welton, who won the race with a time of 57 minutes and 17 seconds.

“It’s one of those (races) where you go like hell and then, ‘That’s too hard,’ and you slow down,” said Welton. “You start daydreaming and you have to remind yourself, ‘Work. Get your legs moving again.’”

The win was both Welton’s second of the season and second in his riding career, winning a Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club earlier this summer.

“It’s all about rhythm and concentrating on form,” said Welton. “Speed skaters say that – it’s all about them not letting their form deteriorate. It’s kind of like that biking. You can’t just mash with force, you’ll blow yourself out and your legs will die. You have to be smooth and keep your form clean, and then you can sustain that.”

Taking second was Skagway’s Spencer Morgan in 1:07:15, ahead of Whitehorse’s Bill Curtis in third at 1:13:20. McCann, who was just two seconds behind Welton three quarters through the climb, did not finish. (McCann finished one spot up from Welton in this summer’s Tour of Juneau in fifth overall.)

“I just ran out of gas; I just didn’t have it today,” said McCann. “I saw my (support) vehicle and thought, ‘Naw, I can get a ride.’”

Another time trial set for the previous Sunday suffered a similar fate as the Skagway Hill Climb. Scheduled at the same time as the Chocolate Claim Pre-Skagway 10-miler running race, the time trial was cancelled due to a small turnout.

In the season’s first Skagway Hill Climb in May, Whitehorse’s Tamara Goeppel broke her own course record from the year before, completing the race in 59 minutes, 11 seconds, shaving off 1:54.

Whitehorse’s Troy Henry, who won the Tour of Anchorage last month, set the men’s record of 51:39 in 2009.

Contact Tom Patrick at

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