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Stage 531 – Hillgren Lakes to Kechika River

As the Canadian leg of Around The World delves deeper into British Columbia, a quick zoom out on the map shows that in maybe as few as ten stages time, the journey will finally be able to wave cheerio to the high mountains and take on something altogether more leisurely across the rest of North America. But this stage is one of the ten and it has plenty of pain lined up for the unsuspecting virtual cyclist. It runs south east, loosely following the flow of the Liard River, with hills north and south, one of which, unfortunately, requires to be crossed.

The rollout is gently uphill for three miles, the slope becoming ever more severe nearer the top as the road swings left then right around a hill that sits close by the river on its eastern bank. Over the top, Route 97 heads back down towards the river before hanging a big left hander that takes the direction eastwards, all of which is on a four mile descent to a bunch of small lakes in the middle of nowhere. There’s a short up down after the lakes and then the main business of the stage bares its teeth.

In the three miles from the ten mile mark, the Alaska Highway climbs four hundred feet. That will hurt. The summit of the climb is at the highest elevation of the stage at over two thousand two hundred feet: it’s also the shortcut over the hill to rejoin the river at fifteen miles so paradoxically, the descent down the other site of the summit is as spectacular as it is steep: having gained four hundred feet going up, the profile then loses six hundred feet going down in just two miles. By fifteen miles, the highway is at its lowest elevation of the stage.

The rest of the stage follows the eastern bank of the Liard River and is lumpy flat calm. The road initially bends left with the river around sixteen miles but then swings back the other way and by the end of the stage, Route 97 is heading south towards the merge of the Liard River with the Kechika River a couple of miles further downstream.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 836 feet / 255 metres

RGT Magic Road: yva3d7RpxR5M

Total distance: 20.47 mi
Max elevation: 2236 ft
Min elevation: 1641 ft
Total climbing: 829 ft
Total descent: -1133 ft

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