Ski to Sea

Now with a proper name, this leg will test riders of all abilities

Steve Dempsey of Boomer's Drive-In hops over obstacles as he starts the cyclocross leg of the 2017 Ski to Sea at Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale.
Steve Dempsey of Boomer's Drive-In hops over obstacles as he starts the cyclocross leg of the 2017 Ski to Sea at Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale. For The Bellingham Herald


Year leg added to the race: 1991.

Where: From Hovander Homestead Park outside Ferndale to Squalicum Harbor.

Course length: About 13 miles.

Approximate time to complete: About 45 minutes for top competitors, more than an hour for everybody else. The average time in 2017 was 55 minutes and the the first finisher completed the leg at 12:50 p.m.

Course description: Riders take the hand off from the canoeists at Hovander Homestead Park, ride through some cyclocross obstacles in Hovander Park and follow the river upstream into Ferndale. Riders will then take to the back roads and trails to cross Smith and Slater roads, cut through some Bellingham International Airport property before taking riders down to Squalicum Harbor. Along the way, there will be multiple off-road features, including barricades to climb over, bridges to cross and other obstacles for riders.

Pre-race meeting: 11 a.m. at Hovander Homestead Park at the sandbar on the river.

2020 CY map (2)

Recommended departure time from Bellingham: 9:45 a.m.

Timing chip: The cyclocross biker receives the timing chip from the canoeist, swipes the chip to record the finish time for the canoe leg, rides to Squalicum Harbor and passes the chip to the kayaker. The kayaker will swipe the chip to record the finish time for the leg.


With some of the course on roads, there are sure to be some roads that cross the race course. Watch for competitors and follow instructions from police and volunteers to maximize safety for everyone.

Best place to watch the leg: There are plenty of places to watch along the mountain biking course. Perhaps the best place is along the Marine Drive trail system as riders near the end of their leg or take in the spectator-friendly cyclocross obstacle course in Hovander Park.

S2S Cyclocross_2
Cyclocross racers Ben Howard, left, and Kason Jammerer negotiate a steep muddy hill at the intersection of Slater and Rural Roads during the 2016 Sea to Ski. Paul Conrad For The Bellingham Herald


▪ Be ready as your teammate approaches. Cyclocross bikers are responsible for swiping the timing chip to record the finish time for the canoeing leg.

▪ Cyclocross bikers should help canoeists carry the canoe from the river to the finish line.

▪ Riders are responsible for knowing the course, which will be marked and well-staffed with volunteers on race day. Much of the course is on private property. Pre-runs will be allowed only from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 28.

▪ Helmets are mandatory.

▪ Ride low on the bike, much like a road biker, to help increase speed.

▪ Bikes should be cleaned, lubed and otherwise readied for the race. Tires should be inflated to the correct pressure. Bike inspections will be available on race day.

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Tom Iverson with All Spawned Out and Headed for the Bay rides along La Bounty Road in Ferndale during the Cyclocross leg of the 2018 Ski to Sea. Paul Conrad for The Bellingham Herald

2017 Top Finishers

Men: Brian Ecker (Beavers Tree Service) 37:09

Women: Kirsten Jensen (Jack's Bicycle Center) 42:45

Key numbers

0: Major hills on what was previously called the mountain biking leg of Ski to Sea. The leg is now more properly named the cyclocross leg.

8: Years since Ski to Sea was forced to move the leg off a dike along the Nooksack River in 2009. Part of the course will returned to a portion of the dike last year after leaving Hovander Park.

0: Railroad ties riders will now have to bounce across after course modifications in 2016.