Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

AND THEY'RE OFF – Mountain Bikers begin the first of three stages of the U Kon Echelon Mountain Bike Stage Race on Thursday at the Porter Creek Secondary School trails.

Mountain bikers vie in stage race

The territory’s cyclists geared up their mountain bikes from last Thursday to Sunday to vie in the U Kon Echelon Mountain Bike Stage Race.

By John Tonin on July 21, 2020

The territory’s cyclists geared up their mountain bikes from last Thursday to Sunday to vie in the U Kon Echelon Mountain Bike Stage Race.

The races featured riders aged from U7-U19. Day one began on the Porter Creek Secondary School Trails and was held on a 5.06-kilometre loop. Depending on age, a rider would do multiple laps.

Friday was a six-kilometre multiple lap race on the Mt. McIntyre trails – this was the most difficult course according to U Kon Echelon coach Trena Irving.

"It was the most challenging," said Irving. "It was two laps but had lots of climbing and lots of roots to navigate."

Sunday was a five-kilometre loop for multiple laps. Irving said the course featured a new burm and deep corner for the cyclists to take, making it more fun. It was this day that finalized the times for the overall standings.

Irving said the races were as much training races, as much as she wanted the cyclists to be competitive throughout.

Holding them in a stage format, Irving said, was based on an eye on the future along with giving racers the opportunity to better their times over the three days.

"At the Canada Games next year there will be three races, and we wanted to simulate those situations for future outlook," said Irving. "You can't just start training the summer of.

"Then, there is some excitement for multiple races. You can make up time if you have a bad race."

During the pandemic, Irving said, U Kon Echelon has still been able to safely practise.

"We have been riding more days than any other year," said Irving. "We are doing six days a week."

Oskar Luxemburger was the top U7 boys' rider. Roger Luxemburger topped the U9 boys' category followed by Sam Boucher. Alice Belanger was the U9 girls' winner.

Oliver Cann took the U11 boys' win. Thomas Vollmer came second followed by Jack Belanger.

The Novice boys champion was Alex Lebarge. Gabe Coderre was the runner-up.

Johna Irving-Staley grabbed the U13 boys' title. James McCann edged out Taiga Buurman to win the U15 boys' crown. Tori Vollmer won the girls.

Cole Germain had the best U17 boys' time over Alex Brown and Noah Marnik. Ava Irving-Staley won the girls.

Veronica Porter was the U19 girls' winner, Irving was the Masters' women victor.

U Kon Echelon will remain active in the coming weeks – this time, the cyclists will be taking their talents to the roads.

"I try to encourage cyclists to both mountain biking and road biking," said Irving. "There are skills that are applicable to both, even just fitness. As a road biker, for example, it's good to have mountain bike skills to help you handle the bike better."

The Yukon Energy Road Cycling Championships will be held July 23-26. Then, the first weekend of August will be the Tour de Haines Junction Road Bike Stage Race.

The event will begin Aug. 1 with a time trial in the morning and a hill climb in the afternoon. The next day will be a road race from the Kathleen Lake lookout.

Irving said she was thrilled with how many kids came out to the mountain biking and hopes to see them at the road races. She also encourages more adults to come and ride.

"The youth love when the adults come out," said Irving. "It pushes them harder."

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