This past Saturday saw the wettest, muddiest return of the annual Test of Metal held in Squamish, BC. The test is a 67 kilometer cross country race deemed by participants as one of the most challenging - and successfully run - XC races in North America. Over 800 registered cyclists, 300 volunteers, and a year-round trail test crew of 35 come together each year to help make it a sell out event. This may be BC’s oldest running cross country race as it originally began as the Brodie Test of Metal in Roberts Creek back in 1988. In 1994 Cliff Miller, president and founder of the Squamish Off Road Cycling Association (SORCA) and mountain bike guidebook author Kevin McLane, met one night in a pub and drew up the proposed 67 kilometer race course on the back of a coaster, acquired the rights to the name Test of Metal, and thus began the legend of the Squamish Test of Metal. The Test of Metal first sold out in 1998 three days before the race; this past year it sold out just 25 minutes after registration opened.
| The slow but frantic rush to place bikes once the corral is opened...|
The Test of Metal starts with a mass start at Brennan Park in town. Racers progress up the highway and then wind through the streets to single track through the Garibaldi Highlands. However, the most daunting section of the course is 9 Mile Hill, where the real test of mettle sorts out the elite athletes from the mere humans. Of course, no climb is complete without a fast and flowy rip down, and the Ring Creek Rip is just that. It leads straight into The Plunge – a tech section of roots, rocks, switchbacks, and a 20 meter bridge made from scratch. After that it's through the feed zone again and then off into the trees again for the last section through the Crumpit woods.
| The Squamish Nation blessed the event and sang a welcome song.|
| Legend (at least around these parts) Johnny Rockall didn't race this year, but he came out and offered support for a bunch of different riders including 2nd place Chris Sheppard|
According to local rider, David Roulston, this year’s race saw the Rip turn into an all out mud bath. “I took a full on bath on the rip. Huge, huge mud pits and I bailed into [it] and my entire body was covered in water and mud,” says Roulston. Similar stories soon erupted with one rider saying he witnessed a 20 foot section of single track converted into an entire mud pit claiming 10 participants as they tried to hammer their way through, unsuccessfully.
| It may not have been weather even fit for ducks, but the kids were loving it.|
| Neil Kindree came through the feed zone all by himself, no one else even in sight...|
Not surprisingly, it was a Squamish native, Neal Kindree, who took top spot coming in at 2:34:24. Long time Canadian mountain bike star, Chris Sheppard trailed just 4:18 minutes behind. For the women, Kona’s Wendy Simms took first place at 3:07:19 winning by 2:22 minutes, after trailing Brandi Heisterman for most of the race. New for this year was real time scoring by webscorer.com, check out the link to the final results here.
| Rockall handing off a fresh bottle to second place finisher Chris Sheppard.|
| Melanie Mcquaid came through the feed zone looking pretty good, but didn't manage to finish the race. No word on what happened yet...|
Trivia: In the history of the Test of Metal, only one person has started and finished each race since its inception as the Brodie Test of Metal in 1988 in Roberts Creek, BC. That person is Glen Illingsworth
| Rocky Mountain Bicycles man Peter Vallance, taking a fresh one from Rockall.|
| Some people carried a lot of stuff with them, I guess if you're planning to take 5 hours you'd better be prepared. The Test of Metal Angel took care of those who weren't prepared. I can't imagine doing the whole ride with a floor pump and various spare parts...|
| David Farrow stopped at the feed zone and had a nice cup of coffee with his missus. That's the way to do a race like this!|
| Kindree in the woods of Crumpit, only a short ways to the finish at this point...|
| Shep trying to chase Kindree down, at this point he knew he wasn't going to do it.|
| Fourth place finisher Greg Day of Squamish gets a little wet in the Crumpit woods, not that he even probably noticed at this point. Do fish feel wetness?|
| First place woman Wendy Simms heading into the trees after her second trip through the feed zone. Wendy finished 31st overall.|
Cliff Miller, Test of Metal godfather and SORCA founder, feeds his philanthropic philososphy further by donating proceeds of the race to fund the trail society and programs. Miller insists, “I don’t feel right drawing a salary from an event when there are other people who put in just as much effort, if not more than I do, and do not get paid.” However, the charitable beneficiaries do not stop there. Rebecca Taylor, Manager of Community Giving for the Canadian Diabetes Association, was out on Saturday supporting Team Diabetes who entered into the Test, raising more than $21,000 this year for the foundation. Taylor explains, “it is a way for us to involve people and the [team racers] love it; they’ve never had a chance to mountain bike and support a charity at the same time.” Next year will be their fifth year doing the Test of Metal program, and Taylor elates that spectators are “so used to seeing our jerseys now [Team Diabetes racers] are getting cheered on through the course”.Top 5 Men
1. Neal Kindree 2:34:24.4 -
2. Chris Sheppard 2:38:42.8 +4:18.4
3. Cory Wallace 2:41:27.2 +7:02.8
4. Greg Day 2:44:41.5 +10:17.1
5. Logan Wetzel 2:48:09.1 +13:44.7Top 5 Women
1. Wendy Simms 3:07:19.1 -
2. Kate Aardal 3:09:41.8 +2:22.7
3. Brandi Heisterman 3:09:56.7 +2:37.6
4. Mical Dyck 3:10:13.5 +2:54.4
5. Natasha Hernday 3:22:21.9 +15:02.8Complete results are here
With next year’s registration opening in January of 2013, will you take the plunge to test your mettle? Be sure to have your finger ready on the mouse as next year’s race will undoubtedly be another sell out success. You can find more information on the event and registration for next year on the Test of Metal website
Words by Monica McCosh