Ski to Sea

Ski to Sea road biking leg a rush to Everson for cyclists

Colin Sankey (301) of Quattro and Brandon Olson (294) of Rollie Pollie Ollie’s lead a pack of cyclists during the road biking leg of the 2012 Ski to Sea Race.
Colin Sankey (301) of Quattro and Brandon Olson (294) of Rollie Pollie Ollie’s lead a pack of cyclists during the road biking leg of the 2012 Ski to Sea Race. pdwyer@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

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.

Road bike race co-chairs: Andy Kooy and Garth Kooy.

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.

28.9 Average speed (in mph) of last year’s top road biker, Ryan Short of Klicks Running and Walking. 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.

6 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.

What’s new in 2016

The waiting is the hardest part: Other than mountain bikers, who finally had a course to ride in Ski to Sea, the group of athletes who had to be the most pleased with the changes in 2015 had to be the road bikers. With only the two running legs — alpine and downhill — ahead of them, some bikers’ wait to hit the course at the Shuksan DOT shed was almost cut in half. But with the return of the skiing legs at the start of the race this year, road bikers, who are dropped off before the start of the race, must now wait through two skiing legs and the running leg. Wait times could again reach 4 1/2 hours or more for some teams.

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.

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.

2015 top finishers

Men: Ryan Short (Klicks Running & Walking) 1:26.04

Women: Ivy Audrain (Boundary Bay Brewery Women’s) 1:34:40

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