Ski to Sea

This is the fastest leg of Ski to Sea, as racers average nearly 30 mph

Eric Cockrell, left, of team Neiner Neiner Weiner, and Theo Floor, right, of team Inn at Lynden, compete in the road bike leg of the 2017 Ski to Sea.
Eric Cockrell, left, of team Neiner Neiner Weiner, and Theo Floor, right, of team Inn at Lynden, compete in the road bike leg of the 2017 Ski to Sea. eabell@bhamherald.com

THE COURSE

Year leg added to the race: 1973 (one of the original three).

Where: From the Shuksan Department of Transportation shed to Riverside Park in Everson.

Course length: About 42 miles.

Approximate time to complete: 80 to 90 minutes for the top competitors, more than two hours for everyone else. The average time in 2017 was 2 hours, 8 minutes, 30 seconds and the the first finisher completed the leg at 10:51 a.m.

Course description: Though it’s one of the fastest legs of the race in terms of speed, the road biking leg is also the longest leg, as the course transitions from the mountain to the back roads of Whatcom County. Riders will race down Mount Baker Highway to Silver Lake Road and then head north to South Pass Road, which they will follow into Everson to the exchange point in Riverside Park.

Pre-race meeting: 7:30 a.m. at the Shuksan Department of Transportation shed.

Recommended departure time from Bellingham: 4:45 a.m.

Timing chip: Receive the chip from the runner, bike to Everson and pass the chip to the canoeists. The canoeists will swipe the chip to record the time for the end of the biking leg. The road biker does not swipe the chip at the beginning or end of the leg.

2020 RB map (2)

TRAVEL AND VIEWING ADVICE

The Mount Baker Highway will be closed at 7:15 a.m. at Canyon Creek Road, Glacier, going east toward the mountain. Any viewers, participants or additional support vehicles that want to go to the top of the mountain must pass Canyon Creek Road before then. Bikes and bikers will be required to unload at the parking lot three-quarters of a mile past the Shuksan DOT shed exchange area on the north side of the road. There will be a no-stopping zone on the Mount Baker Highway two miles in each direction of the Shuksan DOT station to help expedite racers to the ski area. Race officials will disqualify teams that stop on the highway to unload bikes or bikers.

Best place to watch the leg: Maple Falls, where spectators can watch bikers make the turn from the Mount Baker Highway to Silver Lake Road. The exchange point at the end of the leg is also a good choice, as bikers whip around the last turn and try to find their teammate for the handoff to start the canoeing leg.

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Shannon Mallory of team High Expectations speeds along the road bike leg of the 2014 Ski to Sea race near Glacier. Staff The Bellingham Herald file

TIPS FOR THE RACE

▪ Road bikers have the longest wait of the competitors along the Mount Baker Highway. Runners on the best teams start arriving about 9 a.m., so the majority of competitors will have a long wait before they race.

▪ A helmet is required. Other than that, clothing varies, but keep it loose. Weather usually changes during the ride as the day progresses.

▪ 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.

▪ Bring energy food to eat two or three times during the ride. One or two water bottles should provide enough hydration.

▪ If there’s rain on race day, be cautious of slippery pavement.

▪ Make sure to follow all traffic rules.

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Road bicyclists Jeremy Stafford, left, Nate Reiss and Lise Grace ride down South Pass Road during the road bike leg of the 2016 Ski to Sea near Everson. Evan Abell eabell@bhamherald.com

2017 top finishers

Men: Cooper Rombold (Northwest Indian College Eagles) 1:26.21

Women: Megan Northey (SHEroes) 1:45:57

Key numbers

29.2: Average speed (in mph) of last year’s top road biker, Cooper Rombold of Northwest Indian College Eagles. Though this is the longest leg, at 42 miles, it is the fastest leg in terms of speed.

4-5: Hours some road bikers have to wait for their chance to compete after and early drop off at the DOT shed before Mount Baker Highway closes and while their teammates complete the first three legs of the race.

8: Years, including this year, that Ski to Sea has used Silver Lake Road for the road biking leg, getting riders off Mount Baker Highway earlier.

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