Kluane to Chilkat international Bike Relay

 
At the Dákų̀ Nän Tsʼèddhyèt Festival at Da Kų Cultural Centre in Dakwäkäda (Haines Junction). You go ahead and pronounce it.

At the Dákų̀ Nän Tsʼèddhyèt Festival at Da Kų Cultural Centre in Dakwäkäda (Haines Junction). You go ahead and pronounce it.

Throat singers from Nunavut

Throat singers from Nunavut

Beautiful campspot at a friend of a friend in Haines Junction. Hiding in the Westy because of the bugs. We spent hours just looking outside at the light and clouds shifting on the mountain range.

Beautiful campspot at a friend of a friend in Haines Junction. Hiding in the Westy because of the bugs. We spent hours just looking outside at the light and clouds shifting on the mountain range.

Mara getting ready to tackle Leg 1 and 2.

Mara getting ready to tackle Leg 1 and 2.

Mara at the start line

Mara at the start line

It’s a go!

It’s a go!

Mara leading the head peloton. She had the fastest lap time overall for leg 2 and the fastest lap time for female for leg 1 (in the 5-6-7-8 person-team category, since the other ones do not have split leg time).

Mara leading the head peloton. She had the fastest lap time overall for leg 2 and the fastest lap time for female for leg 1 (in the 5-6-7-8 person-team category, since the other ones do not have split leg time).

There was LOTS of trafic because of all the support vehicles. it was a bit ridiculous…

There was LOTS of trafic because of all the support vehicles. it was a bit ridiculous…

Waiting for Noah to finish Leg 4 at the Haines Summit. Cold and windy. Even in June.

Waiting for Noah to finish Leg 4 at the Haines Summit. Cold and windy. Even in June.

Like my friend Antonio says: that’s the kind of race who appeals to everybody: from the monkey suits to the spandex suits.

Like my friend Antonio says: that’s the kind of race who appeals to everybody: from the monkey suits to the spandex suits.

Noah chipping in and passing it on to Aïsha.

Noah chipping in and passing it on to Aïsha.

Ready!

Ready!

Strong headwind.

Strong headwind.

Working in peloton helps.

Working in peloton helps.

Approaching the end of Leg 5.

Approaching the end of Leg 5.

Tiny Aïsha getting ready to tackle a long climb in Leg 6.

Tiny Aïsha getting ready to tackle a long climb in Leg 6.

Annoyed by Mathilde who was singing silly songs to keep her motivated on the climb!

Annoyed by Mathilde who was singing silly songs to keep her motivated on the climb!

Aïsha did amazing. She was the fastest female in both her legs!

Aïsha did amazing. She was the fastest female in both her legs!

These kids finished first overall in the 8-person team category over 71 teams! They had put together a team of 6 (still qualifying as a team of 8, but the twins were doing 2 legs each) with 2 boys and 2 girls from the cross-country ski team (all 14 or 15 yo).

These kids finished first overall in the 8-person team category over 71 teams! They had put together a team of 6 (still qualifying as a team of 8, but the twins were doing 2 legs each) with 2 boys and 2 girls from the cross-country ski team (all 14 or 15 yo).

Mathilde getting the chip from Jimmy - she was on the U Kon Echelon team and was doing the last leg (Leg 8).

Mathilde getting the chip from Jimmy - she was on the U Kon Echelon team and was doing the last leg (Leg 8).

It rained for her leg, but she was zooming through it, passing lots of people.

It rained for her leg, but she was zooming through it, passing lots of people.

Mathilde crossing the Finish Line in Haines, Alaska.

Mathilde crossing the Finish Line in Haines, Alaska.

Muddy and proud.

Muddy and proud.

The local roadies like to joke that the Kluane Chilkat international bike relay (KCIBR) is the only day of the year when Yukonners road bike. While this is not exactly fair, most people start training about a month before the bike relay and turn to mountain biking after it.

The KCIBR is a huge road bike race - even more by Northern standards - with over 1,000 riders this year. It starts in the Yukon - in Haines Junction, near the Kluane National Park - and finishes 238 km later in Haines, Alaska (with an elevation gain close to 1,600 metres). Some people do it solo, but most do it in teams of 4 or 8 (and some in teams of 2 and solo). If you want more course details, click here.

The KCIBR is celebrating it’s 25th year this year. The amount of volunteers (and the work that these volunteers had to do) to create such a well organized race that ran smoothly is just incredible.

After most people have crossed the finish line in Fort Seward, the celebration continues at the Alaska Fair Ground with a huge fish fry meal for all the racers.


 

Yukon Energy Cycling Championships

 
Tori, Mathilde and coach Trena racing the Crit on Friday night.

Tori, Mathilde and coach Trena racing the Crit on Friday night.

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We had all sorts of weather during the Crit and that made for some pretty cool lighting and even a rainbow!

We had all sorts of weather during the Crit and that made for some pretty cool lighting and even a rainbow!

The Crit racers!

The Crit racers!

Tori and Mathilde during the Prologue in Whistle Bend on Thursday.

Tori and Mathilde during the Prologue in Whistle Bend on Thursday.

Thomas wearing an aero helmet for the first time. Pride and cuteness overload.

Thomas wearing an aero helmet for the first time. Pride and cuteness overload.

Dave Jackson during the TT on Sunday.

Dave Jackson during the TT on Sunday.

Mathilde finishing the TT on Sunday.

Mathilde finishing the TT on Sunday.

Beautiful wooden medals created by Dave Jackson.

Beautiful wooden medals created by Dave Jackson.

Proud kids!

Proud kids!

Mathilde helped for a mountain bike race put together by U Kon Echelon and Participaction. She was very proud to give her handmade chocolate to the kids as prizes. They were delighted too, obviously!

Mathilde helped for a mountain bike race put together by U Kon Echelon and Participaction. She was very proud to give her handmade chocolate to the kids as prizes. They were delighted too, obviously!

Look at those!!

Look at those!!

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The Yukon Energy Road Cycling Championships started on Thursday evening with a race in Whistle Bend, a criterium in Marwell on Friday night, the Southern Lakes Yukon Grandfondo on June 1st  — which doubles as a road race in the championships — before concluding with a final time trial race on June 2 on the North Klondike Highway.


 

Hayman Classic stage road race, Penticton, BC

 
Mathilde during stage 1 (TT). Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mathilde during stage 1 (TT).
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mara trying to keep up with the boys during stage 3 (crit). Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mara trying to keep up with the boys during stage 3 (crit).
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mara (at the back) losing ground on the all-boys peloton. Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mara (at the back) losing ground on the all-boys peloton.
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mathilde (center in purple + turquoise helmet) taking the start of the crit. Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mathilde (center in purple + turquoise helmet) taking the start of the crit.
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Aïsha (purple shirt toward the middle) during stage 2 (circuit). Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Aïsha (purple shirt toward the middle) during stage 2 (circuit).
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Aïsha (left) during the circuit. It was wet! Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Aïsha (left) during the circuit. It was wet!
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Drawing her friend who had a bad crash at the last stage of the race and got a concussion, and adding it to a care package she is preparing for her.

Drawing her friend who had a bad crash at the last stage of the race and got a concussion, and adding it to a care package she is preparing for her.

While the girls were gone, JF and I had a beautiful weekend of mountain biking in Carcross.

While the girls were gone, JF and I had a beautiful weekend of mountain biking in Carcross.

And good local beer too!

And good local beer too!

The Hayman Classic is a multi-stage road race that consists of a time trial hill climb and circuit race on the first day, a criterium on the second day and a road race on the last day.

Rather than dividing the field based on age and gender, the field was self-selected based on ability. The change was designed to provide “flexibility to help each rider find their appropriate level.” An unintended side effect of this change, is that most top-five finishes were being awarded to male riders. Since Mara was the only girl riding in the ability ‘A’ category, she is the only Yukonner who got a podium prize money.

Despite only having one gear thanks to mechanical issues, Mara finished her race. Aisha rode in the ability ‘B’ criterium, finishing in ninth for females, just one minute and 50.5 seconds behind the winner. In the ability ‘C’ criterium, Ava was second, Tori third and Mathilde sixth on the female leaderboard.

After Tori took a bad fall, Ava stuck around to wait for her and rode with her until they reached medical attention and Tori withdrew from the race. It was a beautiful example of team spirit. Mathilde took over and Ava was able to finished her race.

The Hayman Classic was the first major road race for our girls, and it was a great experience will to prepare them for the Western Canada Summer Games in August.

Only a day after coming back from Penticton, Mara and Aïsha flew to Québec where they will do two Canada Cup mountain bike races, while Mathilde will take part in the last of the major Yukon road races, the Yukon Energy Road Cycling Championships.

And for those who haven’t read about the butt foam on Instagram:
After a race, we like to ask the girls to share a positive and a negative of their race. This time Mara said: Being the only girl in the A category and being able to hang on to the peloton toward the back allowed me to see all the strategy that was going on. On the down side, 5 or 6 guys from the same team had used a strange shammy butter that started foaming because of all the rain and started flying off everywhere. The guy beside me just had time to say: “What the hell is that?”  before getting hit in the face by butt foam.


 

Tour de Skagway, AK

 
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You know the mountains are big when the bus looks that small.

You know the mountains are big when the bus looks that small.

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The head peloton composed for 3 strong men + Mara getting ready to tackle the climb to the summit on the lap race on Saturday.

The head peloton composed for 3 strong men + Mara getting ready to tackle the climb to the summit on the lap race on Saturday.

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Trena, Ava, Tori and Mathilde getting fast on the downhill.

Trena, Ava, Tori and Mathilde getting fast on the downhill.

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Look at that backdrop.

Look at that backdrop.

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11 pm in the Pass. Summer here is truly disorienting. I really struggle to sleep well and enough. Even after so many years of practice, having dark curtains and putting myself in the dark around 9:30 pm (+ using a buff on my eyes + earplugs to not ear the birds signing at 3 am…), I still have a restless light sleep. My body is really influenced by light as I have shared many times here and too much light is not better than not enough light for me. I have to cut down on my coffee intake because I truly feel like I’m hyper agitated by all this light. That being said, the midnight sun is something you have to experience at least once in your lifetime.

11 pm in the Pass. Summer here is truly disorienting. I really struggle to sleep well and enough. Even after so many years of practice, having dark curtains and putting myself in the dark around 9:30 pm (+ using a buff on my eyes + earplugs to not ear the birds signing at 3 am…), I still have a restless light sleep. My body is really influenced by light as I have shared many times here and too much light is not better than not enough light for me. I have to cut down on my coffee intake because I truly feel like I’m hyper agitated by all this light. That being said, the midnight sun is something you have to experience at least once in your lifetime.

The start of the hill climb on Sunday morning in the green and lush Coastal forest of Skagway, AK.

The start of the hill climb on Sunday morning in the green and lush Coastal forest of Skagway, AK.

Climbing!

Climbing!

Mara and Lukas stuck together for the whole climb and finished super strong hand in hand! I love to see this kind of team spirit!

Mara and Lukas stuck together for the whole climb and finished super strong hand in hand! I love to see this kind of team spirit!

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Westy made it to the summit! That in itself is an accomplishment.

Westy made it to the summit! That in itself is an accomplishment.

Mathilde was able to finish the hill climb thanks to this awesome young girl who kept encouraging her and stayed with her the whole time. They also got an extra adrenaline boost thanks to a close encounter (4 meters!) with a black bear cub on the side of the road

Mathilde was able to finish the hill climb thanks to this awesome young girl who kept encouraging her and stayed with her the whole time. They also got an extra adrenaline boost thanks to a close encounter (4 meters!) with a black bear cub on the side of the road

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We’re just back from an incredible weekend of racing the Tour de Skagway in the White Pass between Alaska and the Yukon. The weather was perfect, which is rarely the case there, and the riders were strong and ready for a challenge. Because a challenge, it was. On the first day, there was a 20 km Time Trial and a 72 km lap race (24 or 48 km for some), and on the second day, there was the hill climb, which started from Skagway, AK, at sea level all the way to the White Pass summit at 3292 feet. It is rated the second hardest hill climb in Canada!


 

Tour the Haines Junction + Kluane National Park

 
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Kluane National Park has a special meaning to us: it’s the first place where we had our first real taste of the Yukon when we spent a weekend hiking with our new Yukon friends in July 2003. This is also where the twins were conceived on that same trip… So there is a bit of our family history here.

Every time we drive from Whitehorse to Haines Junction, we are in awe at the incredible landscape that greets us. You just can’t get used to so much beauty. You know, a lot of people who did the trip to Alaska tell us that Kluane National Park was the highlight of their trip. Just so you know, it’s an hour and a half from Whitehorse and it will save you hours of boring drive to get to similar landscapes in AK… From there, you can simply drive 3 more hours and get to Haines, AK, a very cute town with an end of the road feel.

The Tour the Haines was the girls’s first long distance road race. Mara did 100 km, Aïsha did 80 km and Mathilde did 50 km. They all had an awesome race! And you know, with such an incredible backdrop, you can’t help but enjoy the ride!

 

Whitehorse, Yukon

 
Our friends’ beautiful backyard that we are so very glad to be able to enjoy while we are in Whitehorse.

Our friends’ beautiful backyard that we are so very glad to be able to enjoy while we are in Whitehorse.

Stout approves.

Stout approves.

I'm so excited to finally have my copy of Go-Van’s book. There are so much great information on there and I'm so glad they highlighted all the places they talk about to make it easy to refer back to the book as needed. And I'm so excited to see my photos and words in print in a book!!! It is available (in French) in all the librairies in Quebec!

I'm so excited to finally have my copy of Go-Van’s book. There are so much great information on there and I'm so glad they highlighted all the places they talk about to make it easy to refer back to the book as needed. And I'm so excited to see my photos and words in print in a book!!! It is available (in French) in all the librairies in Quebec!

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The girls raced their first ever Criterium. What is that you wonder? A criterium, or crit, is a road bike race consisting of several laps around a short closed circuit. The girls are new to road riding and working with the peloton and knowing what to do and when to sprint is an art that has to be learned and experienced over and over. Luckily, this great group at U kon Echelon guided them throughout the race and it was the perfect first experience. They left exhilarated and asking when the next race would be. An undeniable success!

The girls raced their first ever Criterium. What is that you wonder? A criterium, or crit, is a road bike race consisting of several laps around a short closed circuit. The girls are new to road riding and working with the peloton and knowing what to do and when to sprint is an art that has to be learned and experienced over and over. Luckily, this great group at U kon Echelon guided them throughout the race and it was the perfect first experience. They left exhilarated and asking when the next race would be. An undeniable success!

Then this happened. I guess that thing I said about this being the best time of year to drive up the Alaska Highway sure came back to bite me in the butt, didn't it?

Then this happened. I guess that thing I said about this being the best time of year to drive up the Alaska Highway sure came back to bite me in the butt, didn't it?


Late night paddle.

Late night paddle.

Final sprint in her first Time Trial on the Alaska Highway. Can’t hide the mountain biker position yet! Much learning to do in this new discipline.

Final sprint in her first Time Trial on the Alaska Highway. Can’t hide the mountain biker position yet! Much learning to do in this new discipline.

Mathilde’s first road bike race ever!

Mathilde’s first road bike race ever!

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Yukon kids are tough! That water was freezing… The lake had thawed only 6 days before!!

Yukon kids are tough! That water was freezing… The lake had thawed only 6 days before!!

Historically, coming back to Whitehorse is emotionally charged for me, so I had prepared accordingly. I know myself pretty well and made sure I had a plan in place and that I was regularly checking in with myself. So far, it’s been really good and very pleasant to connect with dear friends. It’s hard to keep our schedule from becoming too packed but I am guarding it pretty well so far.

The girls are really enjoying their road biking experience with the local club and are also able to teach the kids from that club some mountain biking technique since some of them will be heading to the Western Canada Summer Games in August, and that the cycling event combines 2 road biking races and 2 mountain biking races. The Yukon is a great place to learn the ropes of road riding: there is very little trafic and the club is small and full of super helpful people. It’s been so positive! Mathilde has fallen in love with road riding here and might be allowed to go to the Western Games even if she is under 14 if she makes the try outs.