2023: A year in review of Yukon cycling
2023 was a HUGE year for Cycling Association of Yukon (CAY) and the Yukon cycling community in general.
Not only did we successfully host a national-level mountain bike race, but collectively we grew cycling in more Yukon communities and saw a massive amount of people learn to love and re-discover the joy of riding a bike.
In particular, the CAY board wishes to celebrate the following milestones and achievements.
Growth of the HopOn kids cycling program
Together with Cycling Canada, Government of Yukon, Recreation and Parks Association of Yukon (RPAY), Terra Riders, Village of Teslin and City of Dawson, we were able to run the HopOn kids cycling program in Teslin, Dawson and Whitehorse.
Between these 3 locations, we got over 40 kids on bikes who in turn learned how to ride safely and with more confidence. We are looking to run HopOn again in these communities and expand HopOn to more places in 2024.
2023 Canadian Cross-Country Marathon Mountain Bike Championships
Supported by our many partners, sponsors and funders, CAY hosted the north’s first-ever national cycling event: the 2023 Canadian Cross-Country Marathon Mountain Bike Championships from September 1 to 3.
82 mountain biker racers participated (50% were from Yukon) including athletes of all ages from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. More than 200 spectators attended the event, and 40 volunteers made the magic happen.
From a sport tourism economic impact perspective, the 2023 Canadian XCM MTB Championships brought over $175,000 in revenue to Whitehorse and the Yukon cycling community.
Yukon Bike Fest
Yukon Bike Fest ran from August 26 to September 4 and resulted in a week of 1,500 people (of all ages, abilities and backgrounds) on and around bikes in Whitehorse. Together we shared stories, made friends, re-connected with friends from long ago, and experienced new places, challenges and inspired one another.
From bike polo to trail building, movie nights to shuttle runs and downhill races to cookie-fuelled kids events, Yukon Bike Fest was an incredible week of cycling-related festivities.
Continuation of community and club-led events
All told, 28 events were held in Whitehorse, Teslin, Haines Junction and Dawson City, across nearly all cycling disciplines.
The 3rd annual Yukon Energy Midnight Dome Enduro took place in Dawson where more than 30 mountain bikers – close to 50% who were under the age of 17 – participated. This year, the City of Dawson took over the event from CAY which is amazing!
The Cadence Cycle Monster Enduro also returned for its 3rd year and challenged more than 20 mountain bikers to a tough yet fun and rewarding technical course (and delicious post-event BBQ, naturally).
Velonorth Cycling Club organized an incredible 5 events from April to October. Their efforts resulted in more than 70 gravel, cyclocross and road cyclists buying a CAY membership and being part of the Yukon cycling community.
CMBC volunteers also led trail development and maintenance activities on countless Whitehorse mountain bike trails. Thank you CMBC!
U Kon Echelon had more than 20 club members participate in their youth-focused rides and programs.
Thanks finally to Bobby Prematunga, Velonorth Cycling Club and Steven Biss for organizing group rides, inclusive events and training programs that appealed to so many people of diverse backgrounds and abilities.
New video - Together on the Trail: Mountain Biking in the Land of the Midnight Sun
Filmed during the summer of 2023, and presented by Cycling Canada and Air North, Yukon's Airline, this movie showcases the unique mountain bike community that’s grown in the Yukon.
The movie goes from Carcross to Whitehorse and onto Dawson City to see how the sport has captured hearts and created connections across the territory.
New video - Stan's Presents | Fast & Slow
Travel alongside pro-off-road bike racers, Haley Smith and Andrew L’Esperance, to Whitehorse as they chase twin titles for men and women’s Canadian XCM MTB Championships and get to the heart of what makes the Yukon a special place to ride.
Improvements to urban cycling support and infrastructure
Thanks to the tireless support and advocacy of Whitehorse Urban Cycling Coalition, there were many key initiatives that occurred in 2023:
- Supported by Government of Canada, the Alaska Highway active transportation feasibility study is almost complete and will inform the next steps to build a more connected, accessible and safe community in Whitehorse.
- Design and installation of the “quick build” Chilkoot Way active transportation protected bike lanes by City of Whitehorse.
- Replacement of the wooden boardwalk along the Whitehorse Waterfront Trail (by Hanson Street) with a safer, more accessible version.
- Improved snow maintenance on Hamilton Boulevard in collaboration with Klondike Snowmobile Association and City of Whitehorse.
- Ongoing improvements to and conversations with City of Whitehorse about snow maintenance on Millennium Trail, Waterfront Trail and Robert Service Way paths.
- Participation in Active Commute Week with City of Whitehorse and CAY.
- Participation with City of Whitehorse about the Transportation Master Plan and operating budget for snow clearing and path maintenance.
- Participation with Government of Yukon about the Motor Vehicles Act re-write.
- Participation in the nation-wide Pedal Poll initiative.
- Showing of The Engine Inside film during Yukon Bike Fest where over 50 people attended.
Team Yukon mountain bike training program
The CAY Team Yukon mountain bike training program, led by head coach Hudson Lucier continues to thrive since its start in 2021. We consistently have upwards of 10 youth participating throughout the year including winter and summer training and group rides.
Prior to the Canadian XCM MTB Championships, and as part of Yukon Bike Fest, pro mountain bikers Haley Smith and Andrew L’Esperance spent an evening with the team and others learning, riding and hanging out.
In September, 5 youth from the program went to Whistler, BC where they were instructed by Blueprint Athlete Development coaches. Together they built skills and further developed their bike handling and descending abilities in the Whistler Bike Park.
Membership growth and diversity
In 2023, CAY recorded its highest ever number of members at 280 people!
Our previous highest membership total was 246, almost 10 years ago in 2014.
We’ve been consistently growing since 2021 thanks to increased and diversified programming, events and community support. We really appreciate everyone who buys a membership!
Here are some interesting facts about the 2023 CAY memberships:
- 33% of members identify as female.
- Over 30% of our members are 17 years of age or younger. The average age of a CAY member is 34 years old.
- 18% of our members live in a community outside Whitehorse.
- Of the 280 members, 10 signed up as Yukon Cycling Supporters. These memberships are geared towards those who commute by bike and/or don't want to attend events or participate in programs, but still desire to be part of the Yukon cycling community.
Social media and email newsletter growth
During 2023, CAY’s communication touch-points all grew by a significant amount. We are up to:
- 489 email newsletter subscribers
- 312 Instagram followers
- 441 Facebook members
We will continue to share news and announcements via these channels. Thanks to those who share and like what we post on Instagram and Facebook. If you haven’t done so already, consider subscribing to our email newsletter.
Revenue diversification and organizational health
Traditionally, the CAY board has mainly relied on Yukon government funding to operate the organization and run programs, events and club support. Since 2020, we have been working to diversify our revenue sources.
As a result, CAY now relies on a more robust mix of memberships, programs and event registrations, business sponsorships and donations, Yukon government funding and other funding partners in order to do what we do.
From an organizational perspective, these behind-the-scenes changes set us up for a stronger, more sustainable future to encourage and grow Yukon cycling.
Thank you, everyone
A heartfelt thank you from the CAY board to everyone who buys a membership, rides their bike, volunteers their time, reads our newsletter and follows and shares with us on social media.
We are actively planning for this year's events, programs and support. Email email@example.com if you have ideas, comments or questions.
Looking ahead to 2024
As a reminder, registration for the beloved 29th annual Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay opens in March 2024 and sells out quick!
Ride almost 240 km, whether solo or on a team, upon a beautifully smooth highway from Haines Junction, Yukon to Haines, Alaska. KCIBR takes place close to the Yukon summer solstice and draws 1,200 cyclists to the event.