Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

AND OFF THEY GO - Fat bikers begin a nine-kilometre loop during the Contagious Mountain Bike Club's 5 Hours of Light event to celebrate the Solstice on Saturday at Wolf Creek Campground.

Cyclists celebrate the solstice on fat bikes

Saturday was the winter solstice and to celebrate

By John Tonin on December 24, 2019

Saturday was the winter solstice and to celebrate a group of dedicated fat-bikers donned their warmest gear to ride in Contagious Mountain Bike Club's (CMBC) 5 Hours of Light fat bike festival at the Wolf Creek campground.

The event works like the club's Klondike Krankfest, formerly known as the 24 Hours of Light festival. Once the sun rose, the bikers had five hours to complete as many laps as possible before the sunset.

Although the sun never appeared, Colin Mccann wrote they were electronically told it was there at 10:08 a.m. and set at 3:48 p.m.

As soon as the clock hit 10:08, the bikers hit the trails. There were 78 riders, and Mccann wrote that "these numbers are huge for this event." There were only seven returning riders from last year.

In total, 214 laps were completed, covering 1,926 kilometres over the nine-kilometre loop.

When the bikers began their ride, their faces were clear, but as they returned down the trails toward the end of the loop, their hair, eyelashes and beards were frosted over.

Jeff Harries said the nine-kilometre loop was a lot of fun to ride.

"It was crazy," said Harries. "It was super fun. It's really windy and fast-paced, and it's beautiful."

Zeke Aasman agreed with Harries that it was a fun ride out there. He also mentioned the quality of the trails.

"It's awesome," said Aasman. "It's all really single-track, really tight. So it's single-file the whole way. There is no real passing lanes, but that just makes it fun. It feels like a leisure ride with a real big group."

There was a fresh dumping of the white stuff on the trails thanks to the snowfall the previous day. Harries and Aasman said the fresh snow makes it a lot of work to pedal.

"I was going up this windy bit with a bunch of guys and I thought this is so goofy," said Harries. "You have these giant tires, and it seems like a cartoon, but that's what makes it so fun. It's a lot of work. It's definitely more work than the summer."

"It can feel really nice if you are nicely on the track and you have your balance," said Aasman. "It's a little slower than mountain biking but it feels just as intense cause everything is just tighter. Once you slip, it's game over. Then you are just working hard to get back out."

Harries said he was aiming for four laps, while Aasman joked that he had already accomplished his one lap for the day.

Natasha Till said, after completing her first lap, that the beginning of the course was the most difficult.

"It was really fun," said Till. "I would say the very beginning where it's more on the road the hardest because there is so many tracks that you would kind of wobble around and fishtail a bit.

"Once you are onto more of the single-track it's beautiful."

Till said she was able to make it around the course without taking a spill.

"I had a few wobbles, I had to put a foot down but no actual falls, this time," said Till.

Till was competing as part of a team and was hoping to get three laps in before the darkness arrived.

It was a three-way tie for total laps completed in the men's category. Francios Pigeon, Steve Ball and Crispin Struder all did eight. Pigeon was crowned the victor because he was the first to complete the final lap.

There was a two-way tie in the women's class. Maren Bradley and Jenn Baardseth both cycled six laps but it was Bradley who was the first to complete the final loop.

The duo of James Mitchell and Adam Mcdougal completed eight laps to be victorious in the team category.

Comments (3)

Up 21 Down 10

Perspective on Dec 27, 2019 at 7:49 am

907 - It also could be many of those same cyclists carpooled and regularly spend a portion of their week commuting by bike. Don’t be so quick to judge others.

Up 17 Down 14

907 reply on Dec 27, 2019 at 1:28 am

Well 907, guess you'd be complaining if all of us just rode our bikes out the Alaska Highway to get there and do this festival. You'd say how bicycles should not be on the highway. There's lots of groups you could pick on for environmental aspects. Guess cyclists enjoying a fun event are easy targets. Wonder what you think of the people who get in their vehicles, drive to Mt. Sima and use fossil fuels not only to get there, but to run the whole place so people can enjoy some recreation. Or sledders going to the summit to snowmobile, in pickup up trucks with large trailers? We're all just enjoying our activities so live and let live. Lots of stuff to worry about besides cyclists driving to trails to enjoy an activity.

Up 18 Down 19

907 on Dec 24, 2019 at 5:28 pm

It’s ironic that an event to promote cycling, an essentially green activity, was attended by the hordes driving out in their SUVs and trucks.

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