The cyclists entered in this weekend's Tour of Juneau got just a small taste of things to come with Wednesday night's 2-mile prologue.
The stage -- which went from the Upper Mendenhall River Bridge to Montana Creek Road before ending at the rifle range -- was too short to really see which rider was in the best shape. But it was long enough to start spreading out the field in the overall point standings for the four-stage race.
Dave Ringle, who took ninth place overall, compared Wednesday's stage to the 800 meters in track and field. The race is short enough to be run as a sprint, but it's long enough so the racers feel like they are dying over the final 100 meters.
``That was very painful,'' said Janice Sheufelt, who took second among the women and 14th overall. ``It's so anaerobic. I'd rather have a longer race.''
``It's so short you can't get your endurance going,'' said Rob Welton, who took 11th place overall. ``You have to try and get a good rhythm.''
Dan Harrington of Haines was one rider who got into a good rhythm. Harrington, 50, posted the fastest time Wednesday of 4 minutes, 19 seconds to move to the top of the point standings. The prologue was run like a mini-time trial, where the racers compete more against the clock than against the other riders. The riders left starting line in 30-second intervals.
``I felt good,'' said Harrington, who added that he's only lost one time trial-style race all summer, to a 22-year-old. His winning streak includes races in Anchorage and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. ``There's no pacing yourself. You have to go all out.''
Another rider from Haines, Steve Williams, took second overall in 4:25. Juneau's Dan Graves, who was making his first local cycling appearance since winning the Tour in 1999, took third overall in 4:29. Chris Scholes, who recently moved back to Juneau after living in Aspen and Gunnison, Colo., was fourth overall in 4:46.
Like her husband, Julie Graves was making her first appearance since winning the women's title two years ago. She tied for fifth place overall with defending men's champion Doug Woodby. Graves, who posted a time of 5:03, spent most of the last two years recovering from a major knee injury. Sheufelt had a time of 5:36 and defending women's champ Betsy Fischer was third among women in 6:22.
``They took my patella (knee cap) out so they could reconstruct my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament),'' Julie Graves said. ``My knee's a lot better. I spent about a year in rehab, including eight months on crutches with the first three being very painful. I think I'm back to 100 percent.''
Dan Graves didn't have the injury excuse for his absence. He said he pursued other interests, like paragliding, but finally dusted off his bike last month.
``It felt strange today,'' Dan Graves said. ``I had no lungs. I wanted to see how I felt, and I felt bad. I didn't feel strong at all. But it's fun seeing everybody I haven't seen in two years.
Wednesday's stage was short, but it was long enough to have an impact on Woodby.
``I think the defending champs have conceded their titles,'' Woodby said. ``My win last year was kind of a fluke. There's a lot of really good competition this year. There are the three Dans (Harrington, Graves and Dan Kelliher of Sitka, who will join the race today after missing Wednesday night's stage), and Steve Williams is pretty strong, too. Those guys are going have to work to win the overall title.''
The Tour of Juneau continues at 6:30 p.m. tonight with a 5-mile hill climb up Fish Creek Road toward Eaglecrest Ski Area (meet at Mile 0.5 Fish Creek Road). Friday's stage will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the False Outer Point parking lot for a 10-mile time trial. And Saturday's final stage will be a 35mile road race along the Glacier Highway north of Juneau. Racers should park at the Lena Point Picnic Area, near the finish line, and ride to the starting line at the Alaska Marine Highway ferry terminal employee parking lot for a 10 a.m. race start.
TOUR OF JUNEAU
Results from Wednesday's first stage of the Tour of Juneau, a 2-mile prologue from the Upper Mendenhall River Bridge down Montana Creek Road to the rifle range. Results include the racer's name, overall place in parentheses and time.
MEN Age 20-29 - 1. Mark Griffith (8), 5 minutes, 19 seconds.
Age 30-39 - 1. Chris A. Scholes (4), 4:46; 2. Mike Hekkers (7), 5:14; 3. Dave Ringle (9), 5:22; 4. Jim Sheufelt (10), 5:23; DNF: Dan Johnson (flat tire).
Age 40-49 - 1. Steve Williams (2), 4:25; 2. Dan Graves (3), 4:29; 3. Doug Woodby (5, tie), 5:03; 4. Rob Welton (11), 5:32; 5. Charles M. Guthrie III (16), 5:55.
Age 50-older - 1. Dan Harrington (1), 4:21; 2. Al Graves (12), 5:34; 3. Jerry Buckley (13), 5:35; 4. Eric Olsen (15), 5:45; 5. Chuck O'Clair (17), 5:58.
WOMEN Age 30-39 - 1. Janice Sheufelt (14), 5:36; DNF: Carol Johnson (flat tire).
Age 40-49 - 1. Julie Graves (5, tie), 5:03; 2. Betsy Fischer (18), 6:22.