There were few cyclists at the finish line of the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay who did not bemoan the strong headwinds during the race.
However, in four of the event’s 12 divisions, it was Whitehorse cyclists who were blowing away the competition during the 240-kilometre race from Haines Junction to Haines, Alaska on Saturday.
Taking the overall top spot in the two-person women’s team was Whitehorse’s I Love Big Bottom Brackets beating out a second-place team from Douglas, Alaska. Whitehorse’s Salty Dames won third.
“It was fantastic. A lot of people were riding a pace line and were working with each other – that’s what helped me,” said Brackets’ Nadele Flynn, who raced with partner Kerrie Paterson. “You try to stick with people, try to work with people, but at a certain point you have to decide whether or not you need to continue on or stay and work with the group.”
Last year, the two raced in the solo women category with Flynn taking third and Paterson, despite taking a fall in which she broke her helmet, taking first.
Team Kunde Hospital from Whitehorse was the top four-person men’s team, featuring Marcus Waterreus, Jonothan Kerr, Bill Perry and VeloNorth Cycling Club president Scott Kerby. In fact, Whitehorse dominated the podium in the division with local teams Floyd Landis Pharmaceutical and We Should Be Cyclists taking second and third respectively.
“Jonathan, who did the two legs before me, ended up riding with two solo riders that caught up with us,” said Waterreus. “So I just ended up riding with them until the finish.”
Both Kerr and Waterreus will be competing in the BC Bike Race next week and will be selling team jerseys inspired by the Kunde Hospital in Nepal, established by explorer Sir Edmund Hillary.
“So there’s two of us from Whitehorse and three friends from Vancouver and we’re registered as solo riders in the race, but we’re all friends so let’s all be on the same team,” said Kerr. “So we made jerseys and we’ll all be on the same team even though we’re registered as solo-riders.
“Sir Edward Hillary just died a year ago, so we thought let’s make a team and sell the jerseys and all the proceeds will go to the Sir Edward Hillary Foundation.”
With 13 Whitehorse teams in the 15-team four-person women’s division, Yukon cyclists managed to occupy the top 11 spots. Topping the list were the C.A.L.L. Girls, made up from Carolyn Coombs, Angelene Young, Leslie Doran and Leslie Vandermaas. (C.A.L.L. is an acronym made from the team members’ first initials.)
The C.A.L.L. Girls was one of two teams in the division made up from members of the Yukon’s Cougars Ski Team with the second-place Spokin’ Four also coming from the club. Finishing third was Whitehorse’s That’s What He Said.
“We had a great three-man single group that pulled me through (Legs) 3 and 4 and pulled our last rider through the last 20-kilometres,” said Doran. “So cheers to those Alaskan men.
“We trained twice a week, both from skis to bikes, and we had a great time.”
“My team mooned me and that motivated me,” said Coombs. “I told them: male strippers!”
Whitehorse also grabbed a pair of podium spots – including the top tier – in the eight-person mixed division, with the Cycotics, which include Dane Vasseur, Don Roberts, Rob Rees, Brad Avery, Kathleen Avery and Joy Vall, taking first ahead of Whitehorse’s Six Bucks Two Bitz’s.
Top finishes aside, Whitehorse cyclists reached the podium – or close to it – in a handful of other events.
The Yukon’s top solo rider was Whitehorse’s Stephen Ball, taking third overall for the second year in a row in the men’s division.
“It’s kind of like a race of attrition,” said Ball. “Everybody starts off together and you lose people along the way.”
Ball began in a group of 15 riders and stuck with it for most of the race until it was whittled down to just a few by the final leg, there he lost the four Fairbanks cyclists who were the first to arrive at the finish line.
“The last 30 kilometres – it was windy,” said Ball. “My legs were not very happy. Other than that, I was OK up to the border.
“I don’t know if I’ll be back next year, but I might change my mind – as soon as you finish you don’t know if you’ll do it again. I’m sure in a couple weeks I’ll be keen to do it again.”
For the solo women, the territory’s fastest was Whitehorse’s Trena Irving, finishing fifth ahead of Whitehorse cyclists Sylvia Anne Williams, Meagan Wilson and Cassandra Kelly, all of who filled spots six through eight.
In the two-person men’s division, Whitehorse’s Derrick Hynes and Jerome McIntyre cycled to a fourth-place spot behind three teams from Fairbanks. For Hynes, the headwind was almost unbearable.
“It was horrible. I rode alone for two-and-a-half legs – so five, six and a part of seven – and the wind was just relentless,” said Hynes. “It was the whole way. When you get down to the flats coming into (Haines) it just gets worse because you’re just going straight into it.
“Luckily I made a friend halfway through Leg 7 and we rode together. It was a hard day.
“I was doing all right, but then I saw that sign that says, ‘Haines 100 kilometres’ and I thought, ‘Oh my God. I have a long way to go.’”
McIntyre rode with the lead pack for most of the first half of the race, but fell behind in the dreaded mountainous fourth leg when the chain came off his bike.
“By the time he got off his bike and fixed it, the pack was gone,” said Hynes. “There was 10 or 12 guys in that pack and it was just impossible for him to catch up. I think he killed himself trying to catch up.”
Yukon’s top eight-person women’s team, which finished second behind Juneau’s Caution Runners on Bikes, was Whitehorse’s Better Boodies – they train at Better Bodies Crosstraining Centre .
“We tried to chase them the whole race,” said Better Boodies captain Lorie Muir. “Two years ago was our very first race and we lost by two minutes against Caution Runners on Bikes, so this year we were hot after them.”
Joining Muir on Better Boodies were Kendra Thomson, Megan Phillips, Deborah Forsgren, Terri Cairns, Andrea Rodger, Lisa Vowk and Dona Novecosky.
“Everyone of our girls kicked ass – we were really fast,” said Muir. “Terri (Cairns) lost her chain at the end of leg five and Deborah (Forsgren’s) bike was broken right at the start, so she had to use mine – and now she has to have a new bike because she liked mine so much.”
In the small, three-team eight-person men category, Whitehorse teams occupied the bottom steps of the podium. Finishing second was Team Tight and Bright, featuring Karl Loos, Ben Robinson, Sami Elkout, George Rivard, Ian Robinson, Riley Simpson-Fowler, Alex Robinson and Nick Robinson. Taking third was Team Boomer Zoomers.
Local teams also posted strong results in the mixed divisions.
Team Cycotics won the eight-person mixed, with Dane Vasseur, Don Roberts, Kathleen Avery and Joy Vall doing individual legs and Rob Rees and Brad Avery doing two.
Meanwhile Whitehorse’s Maura Sullivan and Mark Connell raced their way to second in the two-person mixed and John Miller, Thane Phillips, Rod Savoie and Lara Lewis took the same in the four-person mixed.
Whitehorse’s Matt Schenck and Laura Sly took bronze in the two-person mixed.
Although the strong headwinds may have prevented course records from being broken, Saturday’s race did see a record number of teams, participants and solo division riders, with roughly 1,260 cyclists taking part.
RESULTS FROM THE RACE:
1st William Coleman (Fairbanks) – 7:00:56
2nd Simon Smith (Kingston) – 7:12:04
3rd Stephen Ball (Whitehorse) – 7:12:05
1st Janice Sheufelt (Juneau) – 9:04:07
2nd Brenda Hanchard (Queen Charlotte) – 9:38:22
3rd Cherylene Robson (Dugald) – 9:43:28
1st Raven Racing (Fairbanks) – 7:00:21
2nd Bring Back The Draft (Fairbanks) – 7:00:30
3rd Y It So Dumb (Fairbanks) – 7:01:07
1st Team Kunde Hospital (Whitehorse) – 7:26:54
2nd Floyd Landis Pharmaceutical (Whitehorse) – 7:33:03
3rd We Should be Cyclists (Whitehorse) – 7:33:07
1st Soft Supple (Fairbanks/Skagway) – 9:31:58
2nd Tight and Bright (Whitehorse) – 9:37:29
3rd Boomers Zoomers (Whitehorse) – 10:52:06
1st I Love Big Bottom Brackets (Whitehorse) – 8:30:07
2nd Last Bitch Effort (Douglas) – 9:41:59
3rd Salty Dames (Whitehorse) – 9:57:11
1st C.A.L.L. Girls (Whitehorse) – 8:45:55
2nd Spokin’ Four (Whitehorse) – 8:53:10
3rd That’s What He Said (Whitehorse) – 9:19:20
1st Caution Runners on Bikes (Juneau) – 9:11:19
2nd Better Boodies (Whitehorse) – 9:23:33
3rd Sisterhood of the Travel (Whitehorse) – 10:30:32
1st Fall From Grace (North Vancouver) – 8:13:43
2nd SulliCon Duo (Whitehorse) – 8:37:39
3rd Sing Fat Lady SING (Whitehorse) – 8:45:42
1st Tour da Haines (Haines) – 7:56:39
2nd Eporiffic (Whitehorse) – 8:14:55
3rd Team Fiesta (Juneau) – 8:16:26
1st Cycotics (Whitehorse) – 8:42:29
2nd Six Bucks Two Bitz’s (Whitehorse) – 9:05:35
3rd The Raging Philatelists (Juneau) – 9:05:58
Contact Tom Patrick at