Once again the Test of Metal was a great event, bringing over 800 riders from the north west together for some good riding, racing and of course a little suffering and good eating.
This year I decided to race my dually, the Orbea Oiz and tricked it out with some light carbon wheels. I had been feeling sharp on it and find it just helps me maintain speed over rough terrain a bit better. I also decided taking 5 minutes off my last record would be a sweet goal. Time to really race the boys, no getting complacent by leading my category.
The Blow by Blow
This year was my 7th Test and I could definitely use the experience of years past to pace or pin it depending on what seems necessary. On the opening climb I hang in on the tail end of the main group and then try to pin it to maintain a wheel on the rolling fire roads where guys usually swarm around and pass me that I could out-climb.
Into the first single track it’s about maintaining a steady tempo. I had managed to stick with Roddi Legga and we bridged up to Tyler Trace, who had apparently blown a bit on the climb so Roddi and I got around in the woods and led into Alice Lake. A couple guys bridged up and we started trading pulls. It felt great to be racing the men as an equal, trading up pulls, well actually 3-4 of us pulled and some other guys just had to sit on!
I was definitely feeling my lack of time on wet roots in the first techy sections so had to work hard between to stick with my group. The only problem of being fit enough to ride with guys like Roddi Legga and Adreas Hestler is that i also have to be able to descend like some of the best male descenders out there, but I like a challenge and although they opened on me a bit in some corners, by staying on it every where else I was able to enter the climb in a group of 6. Thanks to the guy in the orange jersey who worked with me on the fire roads, I’m sorry my draft wasn’t as beneficial.
Up the 40 minute climb I pushed steadily, trying to stay on it when the grade wasn’t as favourable to my body size and was able to shed 4 of the guys from my group with Roddi always close by.
Down the Ring Creek Rip Roddi reminded me how to attack the little popper climbs which helped me keep a high pace. Into the plunge I pinged around. Maybe I shouldn’t have added air to my fork? Or maybe it’s just greasy and I need more time in fun,wet, gnarly singletrack. By this point Tyler Trace had recovered and ridden through the group of guys i started the climb with and grabbed my wheel. We caught and passed Roddi fixing a flat near the base of the plunge and hammered on to the final feedzone. Always a fun experience when you’re racing well with so many familiar faces and getting to weave in and out of the newer riders on the first pass through the feed zone.
Tyler stuck my wheel through crumpit woods and we caught up to Ben Thomas who I spent some trail time with in BC Bike race last year. The three of us hit the pavement together and started trading up pulls.
At this point I realize I am freakishly close to my race goal of shedding 5 minutes from my record. How? I’m not exactly sure, but I know I just stayed motivated the whole race and had fun. The record became my goal and hopefully a top 10, but having Tyler and Ben to contend with I was happy to also just push the pace for a best time.
We crossed the line with Tyler taking the sprint, then Ben and Me just missing top 10, but clocking a 2:45:50 in wet conditions. Wahoo.
Post race Keith and I joined up with the local ride crew for some burgers and beer. The next day we got in some more awesome trail riding in Squamish. Such an amazing place to ride in! Thanks Squamish.