Members of U Kon Echlon cycling club went wheel-to-wheel with a tough field of B.C. riders over the weekend.
In most cases the cyclists with the Whitehorse-based developmental club were competing against older and more experienced riders at the 2013 B.C. Provincial Youth Road Cycling Championships in Courtney, B.C.
But the Yukon cyclists eked out small accomplishments along the way.
“It’s hard going down there because those kids race all the time and they have each other to race against and ride with,” said U Kon head coach Trena Irving. “We just have each other up here and it puts us at a major disadvantage.”
U Kon’s Mathew Knaack had a literal and figurative uphill battle on Saturday.
In the 10-kilometre hill climb, the 14-year-old Knaack was cycling in the under-17 division, but beat two B.C. riders finishing 15th out of 18.
“He beat out two of the B.C. riders and beat David (Jackson) from our club as well,” said Irving. “But the thing is Mathew is only 14 and he’s in the under-17 category, which means most of those kids could be the higher end of 17. He might have been the youngest one in that category or close to it.”
Whitehorse’s Cayla Jackson was a crowd favourite in Courtney. Cayla was the only competitor in the paracyclist category but, riding with Irving on a tandem bike, completed all her races for first place.
“Everybody cheered for her, I mean everybody,” said Irving. “She felt like a rock star. Everyone was like, ‘Go, Cayla, go!’
U Kon’s Shea Hoffman, 17, had older competition to ride with in the under-19 event.
But Hoffman beat a B.C. cyclist in the criterium.
“He’s in a pool with boys who have probably been racing longer than he has,” said Irving. “They are in areas where they can travel all the time, go to competitions on the weekends. That’s our problem up here: trying to get Shea people to ride with.”
Hoffman is currently one of two road cyclists who will represent Yukon at the Canada Summer Games this August in Sherbrooke, Que.
David Jackson might have been at the bottom of the field in under-17 boys, but he proved his spirit was indomitable.
“There was a bit of a hill in the criterium, and everyone is lined up and cheering for the kids. People were so positive, it was wonderful,” said Irving. “David was having such a good time because everyone was cheering him on and being positive, he came up the hill with a smile on his face. That was my happy moment there because hill-climbing is hard for the best of us, but when you’re doing it in a race with a smile on your face, that’s pretty good.”
The U Kon Echelon club is hoping to send its riders to a training camp Victoria, B.C., at the end of July. There they will get instruction from former national track cyclist Lister Farrar of Tripleshot Cycling in Victoria.
“We’re going to try to get enough fundraising money together to send the kids down,” said Irving. “They would be working with a coach named Lister Farrar, and he’s really well known down there for youth cycling.
“And the kids would get to try out track cycling, which would be really neat since we have our local hero (Zach Bell) who made his name in track cycling. All the kids are really interested in that.”
Irving is also hoping to establish a Yukon youth championships in the future.
For more information visit ukonechelon.weebly.com.
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