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Yukon to Alaska: Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay
By:  Nansen Murray   (2011/06/20)


Well here is my first article as an XC Ottawa member, and lucky for me the Kluane Chilkat Bike relay was on the weekend, so I have a fresh story to write about. The race happens every year and is a big deal if you live in Whitehorse there is over a thousand riders doing everything from the 19km of the first leg to the entire 240km of the entire race. The race starts in Haines Junction, Yukon and ends up on the coast in Haines, Alaska after going over a mountain pass. It is split into 8 legs but as you would expect all of us XC Ottawa members decided to do two legs each. The average length for two legs is about 60km which depending on the amount of road riding you have done can be extremely hard.

Lee, Logan and I all did the race and a few other names you may recognize such as the world renowned Colin Abbott. In a simple twist of fate none of us were on the same team but it did mean we were competitors and we are nothing if not competitive. My Team had a few ringers in the form of Colin and Jeff Wood who are on training centers and have been doing lots of road riding. I led the team out and did legs 1 and 2. Logan was doing the same legs and we had a plan to work together, however due to a large oversight Logan's tires were not hard enough and so he stopped to fix that and I never saw him again (during the race). Fortunately the head wind was not as bad as it has been every other year I've done the race as the lead pack took off just too fast for me. So another rider(who I did not know) and I rode the whole thing together. For about the first 40k he was pulling harder than me trying to catch the pelaton. A strong biker though he was he could not do it and was pretty cooked. The two road rides I did also were not enough and I was also cooked. As done as we were we still managed to catch a few stragglers in the last five km before we handed off to the next riders. With my legs cramping I managed to hand off without falling over and my part of the day was done in just over an hour and a half. Done, did I say that? I was not done; I had to support and cheer for another 8 hours; hard work I must say. Logan tagged off a bit behind me and he too was done. 

Lee though had the joy of riding legs 3 and 4 for his family's team. 3 and 4 are two of the hardest legs and have a lot up and down. I know Lee had a good time but do not know the exact numbers, what I do remember is he was a few seconds behind my teams rider: Malkolm Boothroyd. Don't let Lee know I said that though. After Lee was done so was XC Ottawa but the race was far from over. Jeff and Colin both put in good times and Colin gained 4min on the pack in front of him on Legs 7 and 8 and was only twenty seconds away from 2nd over all in the four man teams but we ended up 4th. Best finish sprint I've seen from a skier in a road race. We had a time of 6h and 22min the winning time was just under 6h. Lee's team was further back due to some slower riders (although I have heard it said it was just one). Logan's team was third in the mixed four person. Although it was raining in the evening it was still a big get together in Haines and before we left we had that good training food Fish and Chips. It was for sure a great time and did a lot to revitalize my attitude towards training. Unfortunately I am not a camera man and have not had time to appropriate any pictures from those who are. So in lieu of that I will post this picture of my team from last year. Left to right -me, Colin, Malkolm and that man reping Fresh Air Experince is Lee.

 Nansen Murray

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