After the disaster that was my 2014 Test of Metal I was out to redeem myself this year. I had done the groundwork and pre rode the course. I had selected the right bike (my new Santa Cruz Tallboy CC) and set my targets to finally put this race to rest. A few weeks before I had ridden the course in two sections. This is nothing new to me but I tried to push at about 80% and the set my target sector times by that. My off season was a late start with a lot of Mountain Biking for fun and then a ramp up of road riding with a block in Cali thrown in for good measures. I had tried to taper off leading up to the race and prep as needed.
Roll on Saturday morning and I didn’t feel too confident but knew I had a good base to help me achieve a good ride. My warm up was at a lower tempo then I wanted and I stood around the start line for 30mins before the race.
Change no1 for a good race started with me getting up near the front on the grid(about 5 rows behind the Pro’s). The plan was to be up near the front this year on the road section so that I did not get caught in traffic and had to pass people. This would save me a few minutes in the first sector. After the formalities of the start of the 20th Test of Metal we where off.
Above is what 1100 bikers racing down the Highway in Squamish looks like. Im in that second pack on the crest of the hill to the right in the orange helmet. The plan was to stay in touch with the main group on the first section of road.
We rounded the steep road climb and I started to feel good. I kept in touch with where I wanted to be. Riding with people at my pace made a huge difference as I was not passing people and doing extra work.
As we reached the top of Thunderbird Climb I was in a great position to be on target for my time. I was up about 8mins on my target time and felt great. As the race settled in I composed myself and got into a good rhythm. As I approached Alice Lake I was right on target and got in a strong group. It was great being cheered on by fellow team mates who had made the trip to Squamish to watch the race. Steve and Eric where on the road and Shawn and Anna had the family cheering at the camp ground in Alice Lake.
After leading a group around Alice Lake and thru Dead End loop I got away on Rock N Roll and the corners. the 29er just killed it through all the berms and before I knew it I was down at Rollercoaster in a massive line up. I stayed composed and popped out at the bottom and onto Perth Road. Slammed another gel and drank as much Skratch Labs as I could. I was feeling great. As I passed by Quest University Kyle was there to cheer me on. Once again another smiling face on the sidelines.
First time through the feed zone and I was concentration hard. Branden’s parents helped us out with bottles. and I got into the infamous 9 Mile Climb. I was on target for my time. Half way up Bonk Hill I seemed to lose drive and my mind wandered a bit. As I crested the first part of the climb I came to my senses and had to have a talk with myself. I got back on the hammer and powered away up Lava Flow.
The next bit of downhill was so much fun. I caught a few people and after some negotiations I made my way pass. I hit the Plunge and looked at the time. I had a clear run at it with nobody to block my way. I made a small mistake on one part due to getting tired but felt like I was just on a casual cruise. That was to be evident when I got to the bottom and the feed zone for the second time and I was 3 minutes over my target time. This left me with 27 mins to do the final Valley Cliff section.
Before we go any further Ive got to say I look way too happy in this photo above. Going into Crumpit Woods I had a local guy with me. We were both aiming for the 3hr mark. I pushed as hard as I could and our tempo was very fast. We caught a few groups of riders and had to bide our time until we could get by them. As we dropped out of Endo onto the road we did a quick shoulder check. There was a train of 8 riders gaining on us on the road. This was my first race with a 11 speed 1x and I had opted for the 30T as a safe measure. As I was maxed out in the 30-10 there was nothing I could do. In the last turn of the 67km course they caught me and I had to let them fly by me. I managed to come over the line in 3hrs 8mins. My target was 3hr but I was still very happy with the time. I had knocked 8 mins off my best time. I finished inside the Top 100 which was my goal.
Thank you to all that cheered my along the way. All the Steed Cycles Team who raced, our great sponsors, The Grass Family for the water bottles and Louise, Sean and Kyle for coming up from North Van to be there at the finish line.