By ROBERT WARREN
Grease that chain and get your team in gear, because the 11th annual Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay is almost here.
Skagway traditionally has a strong showing in the 148.4 mile relay race from Haines Junction, Yukon to Haines, Alaska and looks to roll with the best of them this year also.
Approximately six local teams will compete in the June 21 event, which has more than 1,000 riders participating.
Suwanee Pickerel, of the eight-person womens team, Spin Divas, said they have a strong team.
Were trained. We wont fall off the bike and die or anything, she said.
Teams are designated womens, mens or mixed. Most of the 205 teams who registered by June 10 are of the eight person classification, with other options being four person (each rider pedals two consecutive legs), two person and the one person relay team. Late registration is available through the night of June 20 for an additional fee.
Russ Fulmer crosses the finish line at Ft. Seward in Haines in the 2002 bike race. DL
Wide Spandexs Beth Cline says that their White Pass/ Gray Line collaborative team is also up for the mountainous challenge.
We have two big-time riders, and one has a really nice bike, said Cline, who has been training as a spinning instructor at the Rec. Center.
Curt Dodds team, Blood, Sweat and Gears, looks to be up for the competition. They won last years eight person mens category, and are optimistic about this year with an eight person mixed team.
We really try to compete with the local teams, said Dodd, whose team beat Thomas Pickerels team last year by 30 minutes.
Some teams favor comaraderie over competition. Rod Fairbanks, who said hes been training one day a week, hopes his team, Soft and Supple, does better than last year. They came in second to last in their division, which should make it easier to improve.
With a course that goes over a high mountain pass, weather is always a concern. Recent years weather has ranged from cold rain to hot sun. Riders are advised to dress appropriately and pray for a tailwind.
Top teams emerge in first softball rotation
The first rotation of the summer softball schedule is half way over as the competition continues to heat up.
The Hambones, who won the last four championships, remain undefeated along with RBI, a strong team in its own right.
The true test will be coming up Friday and Monday when we play Moes and RBI, said the Hambones John L. ODaniel, who hit two homers over the fence Monday and two homers in the park.
Denise Sager of the Hambones awaits a pitch from the North Country. RW
RBI, playing as the Red Onion, lost to the Hambones in the championship last year. The Bones beat Moes the year before in the finals.
The Vigilantes and the Jackasses are tied in the standings with three wins and two losses each. Moes has three wins, suffering one loss from RBI. The Chilkats remain even with two wins and two losses.
The Shirt Company, The Dredgers and North Country are all still looking for that all-important first win, with the latter two teams playing each other tonight. RW
Yukon River Quest has 33 teams, including one from Skagway
Race starts during noon hour in Whitehorse on June 25
WHITEHORSE, YUKON - Thirty-three teams have signed up for this years Yukon River Quest, which will start at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25 in downtown Whitehorse.
A last minute rush of entries boosted the field to just three shy of last years record 36 teams. There will be competition in all four
categories: tandem canoe, tandem kayak, solo kayak , and voyageur canoe. Teams registered by the May 31 deadline come from six Canadian provinces or territories, and five states or territories in the U.S., and there are overseas entries from Germany, Austria, England, Scotland, and the Guernsey Channel Islands.
The 460-mile (740 kilometers) paddling marathon is held on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City in Canada's Yukon Territory. It is the longest annual canoe and kayak race in the world.
The race begins with a Le Mans style start on Main Street in the Yukon capital. Teams must reach the Carmacks checkpoint 200 miles (315 km.) down river in 40 hours to stay in the race, and then must make Dawson within 96 hours to officially finish and catch the awards banquet on Sunday afternoon. The race record is 52 hours, nine minutes, but most teams average between 65 and 80 hours.
This years field appears wide open as just two past winners return. The Paddlers Abreast team from the Yukon, a team of breast cancer survivors racing in their third River Quest, will defend their voyageur title against the Maine Yahoos to the Yukon. Goals of the Maine team members center around staying up and staying sober as long as possible. I like water, my father is a plumber, and beer is made of water, wrote one Maine Yahoo, citing his experience.
Rick Amschler of Spruce Grove, Alberta returns to defend his solo kayak title. Theres a lot of experience in his division. Solo kayaker David Zietsma of Toronto, racing as Schick Xtreme 3, has participated in seven Eco-Challenge races. Steve Van Vlaenderen of Manitoba, a a veteran of 60 kayak races, is raising money for the arthritis research under the Arthritis Society's "Paddle Far" pledge program. And European veteran Heinz Rodinger of Austria is hungry to finish strong. Other River Quest veterans include local favorites Linda Bourassa and Ingrid Wilcox of Whitehorse, who have been out on the river just about every night for the past month.
A couple of canoes teams - the River Vikings from Texas, and the team of Mike and Fiona Vincent of Saskatchewan - have raced in the 260-mile Texas Water Safari, and figure to be strong competitors.
But this year, it may be experience in the 460-mile Yukon River Quest that matters most. Greg Tibbetts and Larry Seethaler of Anchorage, Alaska return as a canoe team Flying Ducks for their fourth and fifth River Quest respectively. Both have been competitive in previous races. William Kleedehn and Catherine Pinard of Carcross, Yukon, runners-up in the mixed canoe division last year, are back. The California team of David Innes and David Crockett returns for the first time since the inaugural 1999 race. And Tony Arcand and Rick Brown of Whitehorse, and John ODaniel of Skagway return with different partners.
This years purse will be $15,525 Cdn. Race rules state that each category must have a minimum of three teams before prize money is awarded. All except the voyageur category have met that requirement. The top seven in each category receive prizes, in addition to the top two mens, womens and mixed teams in the tandem canoe and kayak categories, and the top two men and women in the solo kayak class.
Most teams are in the race just for the experience of paddling the Yukon under the midnight sun, and testing their endurance. A sampling of comments from the race Website: www.polarcom.com/~riverquest:
A friend of mine e-mailed me the Website address no doubt as a 'hey, look what these poor bastards are going to do to themselves kind of joke, but this planted an ugly seed, wrote Jerome Truran or N. Vancouver, B.C., My goal is to purge myself of this fixation.
To introduce some Scottish Style and panache to the event. See some nice scenery and bears; complete within the time limit and avoid the banjo player, wrote Richard Verreydt and Andy McGowan of Whiskey Galore from Scotland. (Andys) butchery skills will be useful if we run over a moose en route.
Finish in about 80 hours, not get lost, hopefully make some new fiends, and also get sponsorship for special needs children. Loves Canada, wrote Guy Rogers and Andy Alford of Team Unknown from the Guernsey Channel Islands off England. They both walked the entire Appalachian Trail last year.
For a complete list of entrants, check the race web site.
The race is being managed this year by the Yukon River Marathon Paddling Association, a group of paddling enthusiasts from the Yukon and Alaska who took over race organization last fall from the Yukon Quest International, organizers of the world-famous dog sled race.
Official sponsors include: Whitehorse Star, Acuvue Contact Lenses, Wenonah Canoe (which provided 18-foot Jensen canoes to the race for sale to corporate donors and use by teams - two are still available), Up North Adventures, Norcan Leasing, PR Services, the Town of Dawson City, and the Canadian Rangers.
Race organizers also are selling bib sponsorship packages, where a business can have its name on a racers bib for a cost of $200. For a bib form, go to the sponsor page on the Website.