The Test of Metal is a classic mountain bike race in BC. A Canadian Epic as they say. And it is. A 67km point to point mountain bike race thats been running for over 15 years on some of the best singletrack in BC. Plus they have one of the biggest prize purses. With 10 x $100 primes along the route for the first male and female rider, it always attracts a lot of fast racers.
I have raced this event as a newbie pro and a seasoned pro. I always knew I wanted a win but it had to be put on the back burner as it often conflicted with other mountain bike races or Norm's Half Ironman. But this year, with no worlds invite (bastards) my dance card was wide open and I was just starting to hit some good fitness. I had the win in the back of my mind but really just wanted to have a fun ride. I looked in my stable and chose the Hei Hei Supreme. Yeehaw! Time to play.
A big crew from the island was heading over for the race which always means a good battle. I have a long standing feud with our friend Justin Mark. He is currently killing me 3:0. Also Norm had thrown it out there that his goal for the race was to beat me. Where is the love?? And I can never dismiss Dik Cox who always seems to catch me on the descents with his big ol' Dawg.
The cool thing about the Test of Metal is that it is dominated by the weekend warrior. Mass start with maybe 50 pros, maybe another 50 ex-pros, 100's of hard core closet trainers, and 100's more weekend warriors. All shapes and sizes, ages, bikes and backgrounds. I think its cool we all race the same course but when I was registering I heard this poor girl freaking out at her boyfriend when I walked by in my perfectly matched white Kona kit. "Look at HER, she looks like she is really fast HOW COME YOU MADE ME RACE AGAINST HER?!" the pitch was getting higher and higher. I thought she was going to crack. Tears were definitely on the way. Apparently some beginners don't think mixing the pros and warriors together is all that cool. I told her not to worry about me, I was a different category so she would be fine.
With 900+ racers the start chute is usually pretty congested. The self seed had hundreds in the estimated "under 3 and a half hours" sector and maybe half a dozen in the "over 5 hrs" sector. Hmmmm. Everyone is always pretty jiggy off the line. Noone wants to be behind on the singletrack so its a mad rush up the first big climb through the residential neighborhood. Plus it might be joe blow's only chance to make $100 on the first prime. But as I looked up the road, who did I see towing the entire train of 900 racers?? - my teammate Kris Sneddon! Surpise, surprise.
I was nearing the first prime at the top of the big climb when I started to hear some exceptionally femine breathing on my left. Uh oh. I was being challenged. I felt like crap so Jean Ann McKirdy crushed me and made the first $100. But up and over into the first singletrack I pushed past and never saw her again. I found myself in a group with a few island boys (Norm included) so the trash talking began. Justin Mark would pop but not die. Norm tried to drop me up the climb but I reeled him back in. I asked him if he had been doing some secret training without me. He shot back "no, have you?" I dropped the island boys at the top of the climb. Norm claims it was because the drunk boys gave me an extra long push at the top. I guess he didn't hear them say "don't worry we are pushing everyone, but you have the nicest ass out of everyone so far"
I could catch glimpses of the boys closing in on me but they never caught me. I looked at my watch through crumpet woods (also known as crampit woods) and saw that I had a chance to go under 3hrs! I was pretty sure no girl had ever cracked the 3 hour mark so I pushed past chatty joe and didnt stop when Norm's friend Graeme CRACKED and pulled over on the sideof the trail to pull it back together. A long look behind to make sure the boys couldn't catch me and I pulled in for a course record and $900 in primes! Not too shabby.