Hot off the heels of finishing the Test Of Metal in Squamish I signed up for the Gear Jammer the following month. This time it was a 45km’s of proper singletrack with very little fireroad climbing. Joining me on this adventure was fellow Irish Man Conor McGinn who moved over to Vancouver in March. He’d been riding Cat 3 back home so is a great match to ride with for me. We are planning on a few more adventures along the way too. Watch out for them.
The rain had been falling since early morning so I opted to keep my trusty Continental’s on instead of going for the Crossmarks. After a short warm up I headed to the start line to get my place on the grid. Just like the last race I was not looking for a fast start but I did want to get into the first singletrack to clear the slower riders.
There was only around 300 or so riders in this event but still looked packed. I bumped into Jen from Sugoi on the start line as she was preparing to face the challenge of the Gear Jammer. (Nice Photo Bombing in the background)
The race started with a big climb up the road out of Alice Lake then onto the fire road. I opted not to blast the start but keep a good pace. On the long climb I could see the top runners lined out ahead and then a gap back to us regular folk. I worked my way up from group to group trying to find a group at my pace. The terrain was awesome. The pre race rain had made the soil tacky but fast rolling. As I hit the first singletrack I started to catch riders who didnt have the technical skills. I kept up a good pace and felt great on the downhills. At this stage Conor had got a great start and was a few minutes ahead of me. I could see him in sight on the long stretches but didnt wanna push it as we had a good distance to go.
The first two loops of the Alice Lake area had some nasty little kickers that sapped your energy and I hadnt ridden the trails before but once I came out of Powersmart and headed up the climb to Re-cycle I knew where I was and made a push to take some places. The climb is steep and loose but I climbed strong and picked off more riders. As I hit the drop into Re-cylce I pushed hard and caught up to Conor. He latched on and we made ground on more riders as we hit Pseudotsuga. That is such a fun easy trail that puts a smile on my face. Then boom!!!!! outta nowhere we take a sharp left and onto this new trail called ‘Legacy’. It is a new trail built that climbs up parallel to Pseudo back towards the bottom of Half Nelson. I pushed hard on this to try gain more places and felt good.
The next descent was ‘Another Man’s Gold’ which I really love. At this stage myself and Conor had a few riders on our tail as we rode up from the Darwin Bridge. I tried to ride away from them but they stuck onto me. Eventually we got to ‘The Plunge’ and I lead down. I had a stupid slip on one drop and Conor passed me and kept going. I pushed hard once again and caught back onto him and the group before they got to the start of Valleycliff. This is were things went bad…hahaha. The unrelenting climb up to ‘Meet ur Maker’ really took its toll on me. I lead the group up the climb and the last few switchbacks got the better of me and I had to climb off the bike as I cramped. I lost touch with the group and was out in limbo as it felt like I was out on the mountain all alone.
I pushed on and made my way towards the ‘Smoke Bluffs’ where I could see the group that dropped me in the distance. Conor was riding strong and kept with them til the end. I sprinted the last road section but couldnt get up near them. I finished the race in 95th overall and 28th in Masters with 3:33:26.
I once again had my GoPro strapped to my chest and put a quick clip together to give you and idea. Have a look below.