Quinn Weber of Skagway pedals hard into the wind on the final climb of leg 4 during the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay on June 16. Kile Brewer
Several Skagway cyclists endure tough conditions at Kluane- Chilkat International Bike Relay
By KILE BREWER
Rain poured in the bright Yukon night, soaking tents and bikes as Skagway cyclists slept. When they awoke bright and early, they became aware of the poor conditions that lay ahead.
Race veteran John “JT” Thomas, who would ride the first and second legs for Skagway’s “Good Tryers,” said that this was the worst he’s seen it.
“It’s never actually poured on us,” Thomas said, “Sometimes it rains a little, you know, but this year, it rained.”
After some coffee and Powerbars, the riders suited up and headed to the starting line in Haines Junction.
Thomas and the first rider from the Nahku Bay Riders, Bruce Weber, rode in separate four-man teams, where each member completes two consecutive legs. After shoes were strapped, legs were warmed up and the two riders were checked in, the buzzer sounded and they were on their way, peddling down the wet pavement toward Haines.
Fifteen minutes after the four-man teams pushed off the start, the call was made for the start of the solo race, the event that Skagway’s Spencer Morgan had been training for. After a hug from his daughter, Wynter, Morgan hopped on his bike and pushed forward with the pack of soloists.
Taking over at the start of the third leg for the Good Tryers was Devin Fairbanks, who rode alongside Nahku Bay Riders team member Quinn Weber. The two younger riders pushed each other through arguably the hardest two legs of the race, which includes a thousand-foot, hilly climb to the start of leg 5.
Solo rider Spencer Morgan crosses the finish line. Tricia Radey
Headwinds roared in from the south as the two riders huffed and puffed their way to the finish while the next two riders warmed up. Once it was time, Roger Williams, a Haines wildcard who rode in the place of Aric Baldwin on the Good Tryers, and Michael Yee of the Nahku Bay Riders locked their shoes to their pedals and headed off toward the foggy summit.
With his glasses fogged and the conditions out of his favor, Williams completed his legs, and joked about the low visibility at the summit.
“I couldn’t see anything,” Williams said. “If a bear would’ve walked out in front of me, I probably would have just run it right over.”
Yee finished before Williams, and Mike Korsmo took over for the Nahku Bay Riders. Minutes after, Williams handed over the reins to Alex King who would finish up the race for the Good Tryers.
The two teams finished seventh and eighth, with the Nahku Bay Riders finishing all 148.1 miles in 9 hours, 11 minutes, and the Good Tryers finishing in 9 hours, 25 minutes, 41 seconds.
Before both 4-man teams came in, Skagway soloist Morgan finished all eight legs in 8 hours, 22 minutes, coming in sixth overall in the Men’s Solo division.
Another Skagway team, Sockeye Steve and the Upstream Cyclists, finished the race in 9:25:48, placing ninth in the coed “Mixed 4” category.