Kookatsoon Calling

Do you like wind in your face? Because if you love a headwind, I recommend biking south along the Alaska Highway. All that extra initial effort will just fade away into a lovely tailwind on your return trip home.

Biking to Kookatsoon Lake and back is a great beginner ride. Starting from downtown Whitehorse it is 26 kilometres, one way. And then you get to swim. If you make it a picnic, the long break will be a welcome rest for your legs if you haven’t been biking a lot this year. It took me 1 hour, 40 minutes to get there in a headwind, and 1 hour, 20 minutes to ride back, including short water breaks.

I’m 5’5” and weigh over 250 pounds, so I think I’m doing just fine.

At 12 km out, the Petro-Canada at McCrae was well-situated to grab a sports, and word on the street is, this summer there will be offsales and more at the Carcross Cutoff. Regarding other points of interest, you can golf, crash a tourist’s campfire at the Wolf Creek Campground, or check out Miles Canyon to make the trip a full day of fun.

I struggle with uphills more than your average cyclist. My breath does this special, doubletime wheezy thing as I huff and puff my way up in granny gear. My mental chatter goes from, “Why am I doing this stupid trip?” at the onset of the hill to, “I did it!” at the top.

I’ve been riding up hills to train, and here are some tips that have helped me climb. First off, practice shifting smoothly, so you don’t spin or mash your legs into fatigue. The key to touring is to be pedalling at the same rate, in the right gear, on both uphills and straight stretches.

This Kookatsoon ride is great for that because there are lots of small hills. I also picked up toe baskets for $20. These help your feet pedal in a circle, pulling the pedal up as well, instead of just a downward push. They are slightly scary to get out of at first, like when you forget you are wearing them and almost topple over. However after a few rides you will wonder what took you so long to come around. Lastly, after reading tons of articles on mastering hills, I have been trying to not tense up my body so much in dread of an upcoming hill. You will have more energy for your legs if you relax your arms, neck, and back. It takes frequent posture-checks to correct this, but just let your legs be the powerhouses they are, and you too will make it up the hill more easily.

Worst Hills: Robert Service Way and Wolf Creek (southbound). The Worst: when someone breezes by you cycling up Robert Service Way without even breaking a sweat.

Road-tested soundtrack: Lana Del Ray, Unreleased I-III. 

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