It's Le Tour de Dan

Posted: Friday, August 04, 2000

It was just another Dan event in Thursday's second stage of the Tour of Juneau cycling race, a 5-mile hill climb to Eaglecrest Ski Area.

Dan Graves of Juneau held off first stage winner Dan Harrington of Haines for the victory, with Dan Kelliher of Sitka taking third place overall. It took Graves 17 minutes, 59 seconds to make the climb, which was actually a little longer than five miles, while Harrington posted 18:13 and Kelliher 18:33.

``Dan won, that's all you need to know,'' said Kelliher, who missed the first stage. ``That was a pretty hard pace. My lungs are shot. You've got to be hammering the whole time in a race like this and Dan Graves really made a statement today.''

This weekend Graves is making his return to competitive cycling after a 2-year hiatus to pursue other interests, like parasailing. He said he felt bad after Wednesday night's prologue stage, a 2-mile time trial from Upper Mendenhall Bridge to the rifle range on Montana Creek Road.

``I was better today,'' Graves said. ``I felt halfway good. This is probably my last hurrah. I'll be dead the rest of the weekend, but I felt OK today.''

The Tour of Juneau continues at 6:30 p.m. tonight with the 12-mile North Douglas Highway Time Trial (meet at the junction of the Douglas and North Douglas highways with a start at the Kowee Creek Bridge). Saturday's final stage is a 35-mile road race along Glacier Highway north of Juneau. The stage starts at 10 a.m. at the Alaska Marine Highway ferry terminal's employee parking lot (racers should park near the finish line at Lena Point picnic area) and is an out-and-back ride to the end of the highway and back.

``I like road races, but I'll be hanging on with those other guys,'' Graves said. ``I'm not in good enough shape now to do much.''

Graves trails Harrington 41-40 in the Tour of Juneau's overall point standings, followed by Steve Williams of Haines with 38, Chris Scholes of Juneau with 34 and Doug Woodby of Juneau with 32.

Julie Graves, Dan's wife who is also returning to cycling after two years rehabilitating a knee injury, is sixth overall in the point standings with 30 points. She was the top female rider for the second straight day, clocking 20:48 Thursday to take ninth overall. Cheryl Levitt, who missed Wednesday's prologue, was the second woman with a 26:43, followed by Betsy Fischer in 26:56.

``That's always a hard ride, and I'm glad it's done,'' Julie Graves said. ``It's usually been a time trial (where riders start in 30-second intervals instead of in a group) so it was nice to have someone to pace with. I just wish I could have stayed with the group a little longer.''

The early lead in the race went to Scholes, who recently moved back to Juneau from Aspen, Colo., and James Clark of Springville, Utah. Scholes pulled ahead of Clark about two miles into the race, only to have Dan Graves catch up and ride in the lead with Scholes for the next mile. Then Graves pulled away and he led the final two miles up Fish Creek Road to the finish line just below the Eaglecrest Ski Area lodge. Williams took fourth place Thursday, followed by Clark in fifth and Scholes in sixth.

``It was definitely a day for Dan,'' Scholes said. ``I thought this would be a good race for me. We went out really fast, but these guys passed me like I was standing still.''

``It was him (Scholes) and that young kid on the mountain bike, with the baggy pants (Clark),'' Harrington said. ``They held the lead for about half the race, then it was Graves all the way. He led for the last three miles.''

Clark was one of two racers to use mountain bikes on the hill climb instead of road bikes (the other was Levitt), but they weren't the only riders with a unique bike. Rob Welton spurned the classic Lycra cycling togs - wearing a Hawaiian print shirt and khaki shorts - and he rode a purple Bike Friday Pocket Rocket, a folding travel bike that fits inside a suitcase to avoid excess baggage charges from the airlines.

``Pain is pain, no matter what you wear,'' Welton said. ``I just got tired of being dinged $50 every time I went anywhere, so I bought this bike so I could keep training.''

To make Dan Day complete, the last finisher was Dan Johnson, who got a flat tire in Wednesday's race. Johnson said he was just trying to make a nice Dan bookend tot he race.

``He got first and I got last,'' Johnson said. ``I was OK until the 3-year-old girl on the tricycle passed me.''

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