Nineteen riders turned out to participate in the Terrace Off Road Cycling Association’s 26th annual Skeena River Challenge bike race on Aug. 12, which sees cyclists on a ride of more than 100 kilometres between Prince Rupert and Terrace.
The Gran Fondo style road race starts from the Jim Ciccone Centre in Prince Rupert and spins 140 kilometres up Hwy 16 to finish at the DHL parking lot at the corner of Kenney Street and Keith Avenue in Terrace. This year saw a course change, with the route altered to include a ride through Port Edward out to the North Pacific Cannery instead of turning out to Ridley Island.
“The course change added an extra two kilometres to the race, but the feedback from the riders is positive,” said organizer Michael Bruce.
“The rolling nature of the road to the North Pacific Cannery was fun and a good way to start the race.”
Eleven riders made the lead pack for the majority of the race from Rainbow Summit to the Shames Mountain turnoff. By working together on the flats, the group was able to maintain speeds of over 40 kilometres per hour. A light tailwind helped as well, said Bruce.
James Woodworth of Telkwa opened up an unchallenged lead by charging well out in front of the pack at the Sheraton Railway overhead, but was caught on the hills after Shames for a fourth place finish in his age group.
It was an exciting sprint to the finish, as the top placed riders all finished within seconds of each other.
First place in men over 45 was Andrew Simpson. In second came Ernie Hidber. In third, Neil Hodgson. For Simpson and Hodgson, it was their first time racing this event. All are from Terrace.
Taking first place for men under 45 was Peter Krause from Smithers. In second came Spencer Edwards from Kitimat, his second ride of this race. And in third came Vince Drouin from Smithers.
Maryka Rypma was the only women’s entry and it was also her first ride of this race.
There were also six riders from Rupert out this year.
“The event could not have happened without a lot of volunteers who helped with registration, time keeping, signage, vehicle escorts, and food at the end,” said Bruce.
“It was great that we could have a safe and exciting event like this with all that help.”