VeloNorth cyclists tear it up at Tour de Juneau

Before pumping bike peddles, Whitehorse's Trena Irving was pumping iron as a weightlifter, competing nationally and internationally.

Before pumping bike peddles, Whitehorse’s Trena Irving was pumping iron as a weightlifter, competing nationally and internationally. Any sort of overlap between the two sports can be summed up in a couple words, according to Irving.

“The quads,” said Irving. “In cycling you’re using your quads and in weightlifting it’s all quads. There was a cyclist in Quebec that started in cycling and went over to weightlifting, which got me thinking I did the opposite.

“What I like about cycling is you can kind of eat what you want because you’re going out cycling and burning all those calories.”

Irving, and two other VeloNorth club members from Whitehorse, burned off quite a few calories while competing at the Tour de Juneau last weekend, each finishing in the top-five of their respective divisions.

Competing in her first Tour de Juneau, Irving finished second in three of four stages, coming third in Saturday’s time trial, for a second-place finish overall, behind Juneau’s Janice Sheufelt.

For Irving, the highlight of the tour came at the end, riding with the lead pack in Sunday’s 62-kilometre road race.

“Riding in a pack is not my specialty or anything. I’m usually better when I just go by myself because I’m not so well versed with riding in a pack,” said Irving. “So this time I actually stayed with the pack for over half the race. The pack consisted of expert men and expert women and I was with Janice (Sheufelt) and (VeloNorth’s) Mike McCann.

“Being with those two people in the pack was a high-light for me because I’ve always wanted to ride with Mike and Janice is a great rider.”

Irving, who took up cycling about eight years ago and competitive riding five years ago, is having her strongest year to date. She finished second at the Tour de Whitehorse in July, behind fellow VeloNorth cyclist Kelsey Kabanak. A couple weeks before, Irving finished fourth in the solo women’s division of the 240-kilometre Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay and was the top Yukoner in the division.

“I did the Kluane Chilkat seven or eight years ago on an eight-person team, and I thought this is so much fun,” said Irving. “Then I met this minister from Haines Junction that soloed the whole thing – he’s in his 60s – and I couldn’t believe someone could do that.

“Then I started setting my sights on that. ‘I have to do that too.’”

VeloNorth’s Bill Curtis was another division leader in Juneau. Cycling in the men’s sport class, Curtis came third in the final 30-kilometre road race, for third overall in the division. He also finished 22nd, 15th and 14th in the overall standings (all divisions combined) in the races leading up to Sunday.

Sunday’s road race, which ended in a sprint finish, saw Curtis and the top two finishers come in within a second of each other at exactly 59 minutes.

“It’s always fun to be involved in a sprint,” said Curtis. “It’s all about tactics: who to follow and when to time your sprint. Of course, we don’t get a lot of practice doing that.

“So I blew it, but that’s alright.

“It’s not like the expert men, where it’s more about the competition. At my level it is more about participation and the involvement.”

Curtis finished in the same position last year and won the sport division a few years back.

Competing against cyclists half his age, McCann, 63, is living proof age is just a number.

With top-10 results in all his races, McCann came fifth overall in the expert men division.

“For me the best experience was the expert men’s road race on Sunday,” wrote McCann in an e-mail to the News. “(There was a) large strong field and after 20 kilometres of the 62-kilometre race a break was formed – first there were two riders went off the front, then one rider bridged up and then another rider and myself bridged up to them. Now we had a five-man break.

“After some sorting out – one rider refused to help – the break managed to hold off the main pack. As for myself, I did my share of work in the break – maybe too much – and with about three kilometres to go I couldn’t hold on to a surge up the last hill.”

McCann, who just returned from a series of BC Masters races with some top-results, and Curtis will be heading south at the start of October for the Huntsman World Senior Games in Utah. Both cyclists have won medals at the event in previous years, including two gold and a bronze by McCann last year.