Cyclists battle brutal weather in Yukon River Road Race
By Sam Riches on May 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm
Photo by Sam Riches
VeloNorth began their competitive cycling season with a thrilling finish on Sunday afternoon.
In the expert men’s category, Stephen Ball crossed the finish line just four seconds ahead of Jonah Clark with a time of 1:16:56 in the 50-kilometre division of the Yukon River Road Race.
“It came down to a sprint,” said club president, Elijah Buffalo.
Jud Deuling passed Buffalo in the final stretch to place third with a time of 1:17:29.
Buffalo said he dropped his chain about 600-metres from the finish line and the error gave Deuling a large enough window to capture third place.
Leading the way in the expert women’s class was Jillian Chown who completed the distance in 1:30:11.
The field of cyclists battled cold temperatures and strong head winds in the first competitive race of the season for VeloNorth.
“It was pretty windy going out, you really had to struggle to maintain any speed,” said Buffalo.
“As soon as we hit the turnaround we had a tailwind so an attack happened immediately at the turnaround.”
Even with the aid of a strong tailwind, the cyclists struggled to keep up with last year’s times.
“Even though we went really fast coming back into town, I think the headwind slowed down our overall time,” said Buffalo.
“There were a few attacks on the way back, I struggled to stay with Jonah and Steven for awhile, it seemed like they were really working hard to get rid of me, but I managed to stay on and that was good enough for me.”
The race began at the Robert Service Pull-out on the Alaska Highway, with 18 competitors racing in distances of 50 and 30-km.
“It was a pretty good turnout considering the weather,” said Buffalo.
“When I woke up in the morning I thought, ‘Oh man, this weather sucks,’ If it had been sunny and warm, I’m sure we would have had more people show up.”
In the sport men 50-km event, Sean Smith led the pack with a time of 1:35:15, he was followed by Keith Parkkari who arrived four minutes later and Rod D’Abramo who trailed Pakkari by only seven seconds.
On the women’s side Melanie Tait set the pace with a time of 1:39:24. Valerie Girrard placed second.
Marcus Deuling led the recreational class in the 30-km distance, completing the race in 1:06:20. He was followed by Calden Hoefs and Andrew Seal.
Buffalo said the talent of the cyclists was spread out across the three divisions.
“We had some novice riders, youth riders and some first timers coming out as well just for the fun of racing,” he said.
“It seemed like everybody had a good time.”
The race was put on with the help of volunteers Anne Elizabeth Moucher, Diane Tait, Jana Tait and Kerrie Paterson.
The next event for VeloNorth will be the North Klondike Road Race on May 12 which will once again be open to expert, sport and novice categories.
Buffalo is hoping for a larger field of competition for that event.
“I’ve seen lots of people riding that look to be strong so it would be nice to have a bigger field,” he said.
“I know some people just don’t like the mentality of racing but it would great to have more people come out and mix it up a bit with the different types of riders.”
For a complete schedule of the 2012 season for VeloNorth, visit velonorth.ca.