VeloNorth hosts annual YXY Cross cyclocross race

Derek Deuling won the YXY Cross men’s short course event on Sept. 14 in Whitehorse. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Veronica Porter makes the turn into the stadium with Ava Irving-Staley close behind. Irving-Staley won the women’s long course event with Porter finishing second. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Nicholas Connell catches some air on the flyover during the YXY Cross short course event. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Nathalie Dugas carries her bike over obstacles during the YXY Cross short course event. Dugas finished second in the women’s category. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Jonah McConnell navigates a downhill switchback. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

VeloNorth Cycling Club held its annual YXY Cross on Sept. 14 at the Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club’s stadium for those looking for more than a leisurely ride along some of the Yukon’s many trails.

The cyclocross race more than doubled in size compared to last year, as 92 riders competed in three different races — a super short course, a short course and a long course.

Joel Macht, president of VeloNorth, said a large part of that growth was due to the involvement of Cross Country Yukon.

“It went great,” said Macht. “We braced ourselves for more people — we knew they were coming — and we had planned to work with Cross Country Yukon, so we incorporated a shorter loop for the younger kids between six and 11 years old.”

The super short course was designed to keep riders on their bikes more than a typical cyclocross course, which is usually defined by obstacles and obstructions that force riders to dismount and often carry their bikes, in order to account for both the age of the riders and the fact so many were competing on mountain bikes rather than specially-designed cyclocross bikes.

“We were trying to be mindful of giving them a good time and not having them leave frustrated,” said Macht.

Cyclocross enjoys the most popularity in Belgium, where the sport occupies a place of prominence on the cycling calendar, but is a relatively uncommon discipline in other places — including the Yukon.

“It’s not like people around here have cyclocross bikes just hanging in their garage, so we’re really excited to see people racing what they brought,” said Macht. “We try to set the vibe so it’s as inclusive as possible, so people don’t feel self-conscious about riding a fat bike or a unicycle.”

Two unicyclists raced the short course, with one rider swapping out for a mountain bike after the first lap while the other continued on for the duration of the race.

The short course, targeted at riders between 12 and 18 as well as older riders not wanting to take on the long course, consisted of four laps of the course while the long course was made up of six laps of the same course.

In the short course event, Jane Hollenberg won the women’s category with Nathalie Dugas finishing second and Maude Molgat finishing third.

The men’s short course winner was Derek Deuling, with Sasha Masson in second and Victor Thibeault in third.

Ava Irving-Staley won the women’s long course event. Veronica Porter finished second and Trena Irving finished third.

Lastly, the winner of the men’s long course was Matthias Purdon, with Marc Lapointe second and Jonah Clark third.

Each race began with a mass start in the stadium, with racers out and eventually ending up at the ski club’s wax room before looping back down to the stadium.

In the stadium, riders had to contend with rollers, a wooden fly-over, fence-like obstacles and tight corners.

“We were forced to change things up a little bit because we couldn’t use the bridge due to the damange that it sustained in the summer,” said Macht, referring to the garbage truck that damaged the bridge along Sumanik Drive next to the stadium earlier in the summer.

“It ended up working to our favour because it ended up concentrating a lot of the action in the stadium,” said Macht. “(It) was great for parents and spectators, and the athletes who had more opportunity to be cheered on.”

VeloNorth is holding another event later this month. The Gravel Growler is scheduled for Sept. 28 at Winterlong Brewing.

Registration is possible either in advance or on the day, though Macht said the plan is to have some food available beforehand so accurate numbers would be helpful. To register for the race, contact Joel Macht at joelhugh@gmail.com.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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