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Tour de Haines threw many challenges at U Kon Echelon cyclists

U Kon Echelon cyclists dealt, with rain, snow, and strong winds during the Tour de Haines.
A group of U Kon Echelon cyclists ride in the Tour de Haines. Photo by Michael Buurman.

U Kon Echelon hit the ground running to begin its 2021 season. The season began with a Crit race at Titanium Way on May 6 and a time trial on May 13.

Most recently, the club travelled down the Alaska Highway to host its two-day event the Tour de Haines Junction 2021.

Trena Irving, U Kon Echelon coach, said the “Tour de Haines Junction was every kind of weather you can imagine.” The cyclists navigated rain, wind, snow, headwinds and tailwinds.

On May 15 two races were held. In the morning there was the time trial, which started off wet and cold before becoming warmer and dryer near the finish.

In the afternoon, the club held a new race — a 10 kilometre climb leaving Bear Creek Lodge up the hill toward Beaver Creek.

Irving said the climb was a “little more gradual than the hill climb on the other side, leg one of the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay,” but it was still vertically challenging.

Irving said May 16 was also a challenge, with stand-out performances in each race. The cyclists raced a shortened race of 50 kilometres in cold and snowy conditions.

“James McCann is strong, fast and dominant this year,” wrote Irving. “He took first place in the U17 boys (at 14 years old) and did breakaways giving him the top youth times in all races.”

Irving said Alex Labarge took the fastest time in his category, pushing and striving to beat his personal records and finishing the road race in a breakaway with Doon McDowell.

McDowell is new to U Kon Echelon but is riding hard and learning lots from assistant coach Ava Staley, said Irving.

Staley is trying out for spots on both the mountain and road bike teams for next summer’s Canada Games. She has been working with athletes to help develop the team.

Veronica Porter was fast, strong and able to hold the pace with the fast group, Irving said.

Two adults raced with the youth. David Jackson, 25, rides for Capital City Cycling in Victoria and participated in every race posting the fastest times in each. Shea Hoffman raced May 15 only.

Aside from the two adults, the age spread for the weekend was 9-14 for boys and 16-17 for girls.

Next summer, U Kon Echelon is hoping that the 2022 Canada Games in Niagara Falls will happen as they are scheduled to.

“With these young, strong riders out riding their legs off be it wind, rain, snow, or sunshine, things are looking good for Team Yukon,” said Irving.

Contact John Tonin at