Teams slowed down and some scratched in the 20th annual Kluane to Chilkat Bike Relay Saturday, held in wintry weather between Haines Junction, Y.T. and Haines.
With a forecast that included up to two inches of snow in Chilkat Pass, organizers formed a contingency plan to stop the race and restart it at lower elevations on clean pavement.
Kris Miller and Noble Anderson of Haines each rode the 148-mile length of the race, finishing a few seconds apart, at the 10 hour-mark.
“It was rough conditions,” Miller said, including a drenching rain the first two legs, cold on the third and fourth legs, strong winds approaching Chilkat Pass and fog coming out of it.
“By the time we got to the Chilkat Valley, it was so green and warm, it was pleasant,” said Miller, 41. Gloves, a stocking cap and fenders made it bearable, he said. “Essentially, everything we had, we wore,” he said.
Miller, who had trained by riding 50 miles a day three or four days a week, said he’d spent his reserves before the last two legs. Fortunately, he and Anderson teamed up alongside a fresh rider from a four-person squad. “He was just grinding away. He pulled us in quite nicely.”
The pair also stopped at the halfway point to change their socks and shoes.
Stationed at the race’s final checkpoint, volunteer Tomi Scovill said the first rider didn’t make it to 23 Mile in until after 4 p.m., about three hours later than is typical. One year, all riders were through the checkpoint by 5 p.m., she said.
Five or six teams had scratched at the previous checkpoint, she said.
Marian Carlson said she took chicken soup to checkpoint five, near Haines Summit. “We all dressed for it. We had our winter gear on.”
The fastest team registered to Haines was a mixed four squad including Gina St. Clair, Dan Humphrey, Ryan Rice, and Damien Salerno (8:39.26). Ten Haines teams competed.
The event’s winning time was 7:25.38 by a two-man team from Whitehorse, Y.T.
For official race results, www.kcibr.org.