By HANNAH FLEACE
The 23rd annual Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay will be June 20 and two teams from Skagway are competing. Spencer Morgan and John Thomas are solo racers who will join 1200 riders and 328 teams on an expansive biking course.
The route, nearly 150 miles, begins in the Haines Junction in the Yukon-Canada and ends in Haines.
Morgan has competed in the race for around 17 years. He rode in eight-man teams then four-man teams and now he rides solo. His first year as a solo rider he took fourth in the solo riders and sixth place overall.
But after a bumpy ride last year, his goal for 2015 is simple: finish the race.
“I was in pretty good shape last year,” he said. “But I was in a bad wreck a month before the race.”
On top of that recovery, he miscalculated the amount of food he needed and eight miles from the finish he wrecked again.
“I got to a point where I was delirious,” he said. “I rode off the road and my wheel hit a patch . . . and stuck and I flipped over my bike.”
He wanted to finish the race, but his support team – his family – called it off.
To prepare for the race this year, Morgan competed in the St. George Ironman in Utah, but he said, “this year my prep is not what it needed to be.”
He says the hardest part of the race is actually at the end on a flat stretch. Headwinds of 25 mph and exhausted muscles make the last leg the most grueling.
Morgan advises competitors to start training months in advance and race 100 miles a few times before the race.
“I’m winging it this year,” he said. “Everybody is really out there to have fun.”
Morgan’s family comes each year; his 8-year-old daughter Wynter always makes a sign to support her father.
“I wish everyone could get the chance to go through there,” he said. “The area from Haines Junction to Haines is beautiful country.”