Juneau racers beat the hill

Day and Heithecker capture their divisions at the Eaglecrest Road Race

Posted: Sunday, June 11, 2006

Nearly 20 of Juneau's heartiest souls conquered one of the town's most arduous bicycle races Saturday morning.

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Vieve Day and Troy Heithecker each won their respective bike classes Saturday at the Eaglecrest Road Race, sponsored by the Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club.

"A couple people made comments after the race that, 'I'm not very strong,'" race director Betsy Fischer said. "But I want everyone to understand that anyone who rides this course is a very strong person and deserves respect."

The race is simple enough - scaling up and down Eaglecrest Road. While it may not be a mountain stage of the Tour de France, the climb is one of Juneau's more challenging races.

Day captured the 12-mile sport group race by completing the course in 50 minutes and 8 seconds.

"She's only ridden Eaglecrest once before in her life and did really well," Fischer said.

Scott Yarnall took second in the sport class, finishing the course in 58:21.

In the 26-mile expert group race, Heithecker captured the competition in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 26 seconds.

Heithecker nipped second-place Robert Sowers by 46 seconds.

"The pace in the expert group, I was told, was very moderate on the way up because of a headwind," Fischer said. "The race didn't really break loose until they started up Eaglecrest, then they started their moves."

Heithecker bested 15 competitors to win the race.

Fischer said a majority of those competing used Saturday's race as training for the upcoming Kluane to Chilkat International Bike Relay.

The race runs covers 148.1 miles in eight separate legs. The race takes typically between seven to 12 hours to complete. The race starts Saturday in Haines Junction, Yukon Territories and ends in Haines.

"The ones that came to race that I know personally used it as a final training ride," Fischer said. "People who are serious about their training have to keep putting out hard efforts in order to be ready to race. The only thing that gets you ready for racing is racing."

The next Juneau Freewheelers race in the Nick Frangos Memorial Race along North Douglas Highway on July 1.

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be sports@juneauempire.com.

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