Skagway Hill Climb - Part deux

"For some people, once is not enough!"

Posted: Sunday, September 06, 2009

For many, a ride up the road out of Skagway to the White Pass summit is a challenge that you need to (watch for the string of clichés) get pumped up for, gird your loins, get psyched, turn off your brain, ride through the pain, is a once-of- a-lifetime experience ... and on and on.

The fact is, it goes up, it's hard and it's steep.

Did I mention that it's hard?

Some 3,200 feet in just around 19 kilometers, and no matter how much you try, there is no way you can ride it easy, no magic gear that will propel you up the hill in defiance of gravity.

It's going to hurt, so get over it and get on with it.

For the nine diehards that showed up in Skagway on Sunday, despite rainy conditions, temperatures just creeping into the double digits and extreme fog socking in the last 7k of the hill to the summit, they obviously had failed to read the race warning on VeloNorth's website ... "not to be done by anyone with half a brain!"

So in keeping with the cliché theme, when the dust settled - or in this case, when the roads dried (but they didn't) - it was a rider from Anchorage, Daniel Folmar, who posted the quickest time of the day, covering the course in 53:30. Folmar was the convincing winner of this year's Tour de Whitehorse.

Unbelievably, Whitehorse's Ian Parker would finish only 10 seconds behind Folmar.

Janice Sheufelt, from Juneau, once again showed why she had previously won the Tour de Whitehorse and the Tour of Juneau by flying up the hill in 64:32.

Now back to the "once is not enough" tease at the beginning of this column, on the drive out of Skagway. After having gorged on fries and deep fried fish at the Skagway Fish Market, with legs sore to the point that a restful sleep was highly unlikely and just having passed the first snow barrier at the base of the hill, up ahead the silhouette of two riders could be made out.

"Interesting," "good for them" and "way to go" (more clichés), were the thoughts that went through our minds until we realized it was Janice Sheufelt and Robert Sowers (also from Juneau, Sowers had finished fourth in the Hill Climb earlier that day).

Those positive affirmations quickly turned to "What the heck!?"

So for some, a cliché-riddled, hard ride up the hill out of Skagway is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but for others, it's just another day at the office ... especially if you're doing a double.

Their madness, however, was not without purpose. In a week, Sheufelt and Sowers will be taking on something far more daunting than the hill out of Skagway - the Everest Challenge, an annual event that starts in Bishop California.

Billed as the hardest two days of riding anywhere, it covers 206 miles and 29,035 feet of climbing.

You can learn more about the Everest Challenge by going to their Web site at

We wish Janice and Robert all the best, and you can watch the VeloNorth Web site for updates on their progress.


1. Daniel Folmar, 53:30; 2. Ian Parker, 53:40; 3. Mike McCann, 57:24; 4. Robert Sowers, 59:22; 5. Joel Macht, 61:34; 6. Jerome McIntyre, 62:42; 7. Kellen Kjera, 65:15; 8. Janice Sheufelt, 64:32; 9. Tim Arnholtz, 77:24.

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