Last Saturday, cycling enthusiasts gathered in Haines Junction, YT on a sunny, windy morning for the 24th Annual Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay.
The race spanned almost 150 miles of beautiful scenery including views of crystal-clear lakes, the Chilkat Mountains and lush, green forests along the way as cyclists pedaled from the Yukon to the finish line in Haines, Alaska. The course is known for it’s challenging roadways with everything from flat plains to steep elevation changes and long climbs uphill.
Three Skagway teams participated in the relay this year, including an eight-person women’s team, a two-person men’s team and an eight-person men’s team.
The eight person women’s team, Totally Tubular, was comprised of Abby Myers, Amy Coughran, Teresa Wilson, Rachel Ford, Nicki Bunting, Lynn Rhodes, Lara Labesky and Cindy O’Daniel.
The team came in second place for their category, with a time of 9:59:17.
O’Daniel rounded out her relay team and completed the eighth and final leg of the relay.
“The wind presented a bit of a challenge for sure, but I’ve been doing some training rides that were about the same distance, so I think I was pretty ready,” O’Daniel said. “I feel really good about the ride, and that’s really all that matters for me.”
She has participated in the relay for more than a decade, and looks forward to competing again every year.
“I really like the event, it’s really fun,” she said.
One of the main reasons she keeps coming back year after year is the time she gets to spend with her teammates.
“I really like the camaraderie,” O’Daniel said. “Some of these teammates, we don’t get to spend a whole lot of time together, so this event sort of brings us together once a year.”
Spencer Morgan and John Thomas competed together in a two-person men’s team named Two Guys One Ride. Both have been competing in the relay in some capacity for nearly two decades and decided to join forces this year.
The weekend prior to the relay, Morgan had competed in the Duff’s Skagway Marathon, which posed some challenges for him during the ride.
“I would say if was in my twenties it wouldn’t have been a problem, but I’m in my forties now, and I didn’t expect the pain from the marathon to last all the way for a whole week,” Morgan said. “But when I lined up on Saturday I was still feeling sore calves from running, and to be honest, about two minutes into the race I knew I hadn’t fully recovered.”
Morgan and Thomas’ team finished the relay in fourth place for their category in 7:50:10.
“We went into it with no expectations,” Morgan said. “I think we had some expectations when it was February, and we had both been training, but you know, work kind of settles in and before you know it, we both hadn’t ridden much. I hadn’t done anything more than a 56-miler in the last month and half, two months.”
Tyson Ames, Dennis Bousson, John O’Daniel, David Knapp, Rod Fairbanks, Mike Korsmo and John Briner competed together as the eight-person men’s team Soft and Supple. They came in third place amongst their category with a time of 9:1:15.
Plans for the next bike relay are already underway. Registration opens up on March 15, 2017.