Word of Whitehorse’s 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival has spread far beyond Yukon’s borders.
Canadians from as far away as Newfoundland and Americans from California, New York and Colorado competed at the 12th annual event hosted by the Contagious Mountain Bike Club from noon Saturday to noon Sunday at the Copperbelt Mine Museum.
Last year not a single division was won by Yukon cyclists. This year, two of five titles were returned to the territory.
Whitehorse’s Karl Blattmann spent months training to win the solo men’s division.
“I decided I wanted to train for it properly, so I put in a lot of training the last six months or so for this event,” said Blattmann. “There were a couple other riders who were right there, so from three in the morning onwards it was a race, which was pretty tough.”
Blattmann won the division by completing 21 laps of the 13-kilometre course. That’s about 273 kilometres in distance.
The 33-year-old, who is a two-time Whitehorse Triathlon champ, tied for third last year with 17 laps.
Whitehorse’s Sean McCarron, who won the division in 2011, took second with 20 laps.
Mario Correa from Chino Hills, California, came in third with 17 laps.
“You have to be really well prepared in terms of your nutrition. I had a lot of people helping me in terms of support so I didn’t have to deal with my own food,” said Blattmann. “Otherwise, you want to keep a steady pace the whole time and not go hard and finish soft. You get keen, go hard, and you end up paying for it later.”
Topanga, California’s Heidi Volpe rode to first in the solo female title with 16 laps. Volpe has won three U.S. Cup cross-country mountain bike races this year in the masters 40-49 age group.
Whitehorse’s Meagan Wilson placed second with 13 laps.
“Tiring,” said Wilson, summing up the race. “I think I’ll need a week off my bikes.”
Wilson placed second for solo women in the 238-kilometre Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay the previous weekend. She won the Yukon Mountain Bike Championships last summer.
The 24 Hours of Light ride was more grueling than the Kluane Chilkat, she said.
“I biked so long on this trail that by the end, my arms were done,” said Wilson, who placed third last year.
Whitehorse’s Trena Irving, a former Tour de Whitehorse champ and Kluane Chilkat solo female winner, took third with six laps.
Yukon teams filled the podium in the eight-person team division.
Whitehorse’s Speed of Light rode 26 laps to take first.
“It’s a fantastic event,” said the team’s Bruce Martindale. “I think Whitehorse should be really proud of this event, the work that goes into it, the volunteers putting this in. It’s actually put this town on the map.
“People know about this race from all over the biking world – I know that – because it’s very unique.
“I rode last night from midnight to two o’clock and it’s tough. There’s no lights allowed and it changes the course quite a bit.
“I’ll be back next year.”
Martindale, who is from Terrace, B.C., was joined by Whitehorse’s Isabel Beauregard, Sean MacKinnon, Karl McEwan and 12-year-old Finn Matrishon.
Whitehorse’s Les Cuisses de L’enfer – Gilles Menard, Jean-Michel Sauve, Jon Heaton, Nathalie Dugas, Veronique Theriault, Sophie Brisebois, Christine Kirk and Rene Lapierre – placed second with 25 laps.
Whitehorse’s 8 Hours of Sleep finished 25 laps as well, but completed the last one behind Les Cuisses de L’enfer to place third.
The third place team included David Eikelboom, Chris Rider, Josh DeCloet, Sacha O’Toole, Lauren Whyte, Samantha Salter, Piia Kukka and Jody Eikelboom.
Calgary’s Weekend Warriors out-performed all other teams and solo riders to win the four-person team division.
Carl Landry, Ben Crutchfield, Adrian Campbell and Michael Povoschuk, who were all in Whitehorse for their first time, completed 30 laps stretching about 390 kilometres.
“We thought we’d give it a go,” said Campbell. “It was really cool, we really enjoyed the atmosphere, the people were great.”
Whitehorse’s The Gravy Train, which included Jesse Winter, Scott Carlson, Luke DeCoste and Emmanuel Potvin, snagged second with 28 laps.
Here for a Good Time – Calgary’s Jeff Pearson, Calgary’s Erik Petursson, Toronto’s Gordon Jamie and Red Deer, Alberta’s Kevin Schreder – took third.
Team Mangold, featuring Chuck and Vastyl Mangold from Anchorage, won the two-person team division with 19 laps.
The team I Thought There’d be More of Us, with Bryan Waller and Kim Wood from Calgary, completed 17 laps for second.
Adventure Punks Alaska with Eric Forster from Haines, Alaska, and Sara Sirotkin from Littleton, Colorado, claimed third with 11 laps.
About 140 cyclists took part in this year’s festival.
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