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Thread: ToM strategy

  1. #1
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    ToM strategy

    I have noticed that there are a few on this forum who race the Test. This is my first year doing it, I'm torn between 2 conflicting strategies and could use your advice. First let me say that climbing is my strength and I tend to lose time on descents (more so on the easy descents as I am a fairly proficient technical rider but not super comfortable with high speeds). I'm not super powerful and rely more on my endurance and technical skills than strength.

    When I pre-rode a couple weeks ago I started conservatively and finished strong (though tired). This is my usual strategy and I would assume that I could use the 9 mile climb to pass people and leave them behind for the rest of the way.

    Countless people have told me, however, that it's imperative to get a good fast start to avoid the backlog getting into Jack's trail. Waiting for all those people can kill your time. I pre-rode the first 30k again on saturday, cranking it out as hard as I could. It felt ok but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to keep it up (or maybe keep going at all) to the end.

    Should I start strong and then just try to hang on til the end or save my energy and make my move later?

  2. #2
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    What is ToM anyway?

    I would do as much as I could to get to the bottle necks as early as possible.
    Red line if required!
    Addicted to the dirt......with no hope for recovery.

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    How long is the race and what are your goals?

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    ToM is the Test of Metal. It's a huge race here in BC. 67k point to point. 1000 racers, mass start. elite wc riders all the way down to ambitious locals. Last year's winners were Max Plaxton and Catharine Pendrel.

    my number 1 goal is to finish, seeing as it's my first time. but obviously I also want to do well. I don't have any illusions that I'm going to win, but i would like to have a respectable time. Last year's times in my category (female 20-29) ranged from 4:06-4:58. I be stoked to beat 4:30. Overall, that would put my position in the pack in the 600s. hence Broke That's strategy is a no go.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb_chick
    ToM is the Test of Metal. It's a huge race here in BC. 67k point to point. 1000 racers, mass start. elite wc riders all the way down to ambitious locals. Last year's winners were Max Plaxton and Catharine Pendrel.

    my number 1 goal is to finish, seeing as it's my first time. but obviously I also want to do well. I don't have any illusions that I'm going to win, but i would like to have a respectable time. Last year's times in my category (female 20-29) ranged from 4:06-4:58. I be stoked to beat 4:30. Overall, that would put my position in the pack in the 600s. hence Broke That's strategy is a no go.
    At 4:30-ish you are already part of the "soup". Doesn't sound like any way you are going to able to escape that, given that the ~600 riders who are likely to be as quick or quicker than you are all having pretty much the same thought. Then again, you do say that climbing is a strength compared to descending, so maybe you can aim for a better position into Jack's than your predicted finish within the pack.

    My best suggestion then may be to try to line up with perhaps ~300 people ahead of you in the chute? Then just try to move with the average speed of those around you through the opening sections leading up into Jack's and hold your spot in the pack. Some of those will go forward or backwards relative to where you are sitting, but try to go by the average of what is happening nearby. Just like being on a highway, the safest speed is often to be moving the same speed as those around you. If you start up too far in the chute, you may find it difficult to keep a steady rhythm if there's too many riders looking to get past you.

    On the other hand, if you find yourself solidly redlined for an extended stretch, then obviously you'll have to reassess and adjust on the fly.

    Try not to overthink it. Just pick a spot in the chute and things will take care of themselves. You'll get tired eventually, and so will everyone else. Good luck.

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    that's great advice circlip - self seed in the chute and go with the flow - simple and sensible. I am overthinking it - been keeping myself awake at night - and it's not productive.....

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    I recently did an endurance race where there was about 2 miles of fire road before getting into the tight singletrack. The first 1/2 - 3/4 miles was a slow, paced start and then the motorbike slowly ramped up the pace and pull aside. All hell broke loose and it was a super fast ride to get to the singletrack. But it was easy to draft and go 25+ sitting on wheels.

    My assessment would be the same as Circlip's--get a good starting position for you, get in the draft in early sections, and you won't have to work that hard to just sit on. If you are not yet in singletrack, you should be able to draft more like it is a road race.

  8. #8
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    Once you're on Jack's your main focus is likely going to be not getting run over by other riders who have more speed on that sort of rooty trail surface than they did on the road section up into Garibaldi Heights.

    You also want to keep enough energy in hand to drop the hammer and pickup some spots once you hit the asphalt at Alice Lake and up into the fire road climb to the Bob McIntosh trail, so you can leverage your climbing ability.

    By the time you get to Rock n Roll Hill the people that went out waaaaay too fast will start to feel it, so you don't want to be behind them climbing up to the Corners.
    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

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    I'd suggest not entering any event (race) that has a mass start with 1000 riders!!
    But then again, I'm just claustrophobic.

    Addicted to the dirt......with no hope for recovery.

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    Did ToM about 5 times in the late 90s. My best finishes were when I went hard from the beginning to Jack Trail, used the slowness of the trail to recover and then went with the flow from there. Trying to recover for 9mile.

    My advice is to think ahead of the bottleneck sections and pin it before so you can use the bottleneck to recover. (Jacks, the singletrack and hike-a-bike after Alice Lake).

    Enjoy the ride, I sure miss that race.

  11. #11
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    A good result from test of metal depends more upon on how you ride the second half then clearing traffic in the first half. Most people lose way more time due to cramps then do to traffic.

    My advice is togo up the pavement at a pace that is appropriate for a 4hr race. If you are reasonably fit then you will go through Jacks trail and the first sets of single track at a slow but reasonable pace. You will probably be two to five minutes slower in those sections then what you would be if you didn't have traffic. (Actually the bottle neck on Jacks isn't nearly as bad as it use to be, the one sort of technical element on it has been removed). This is much better then the 30 minutes the people who hammer up the pavement faster then they should will lose due to leg cramps later in the race.

    The place to step on the gas is after Bonk hill on 9 mile. Until that point concentrate on pacing and fuelling yourself. If you can ride strongly from their to finish you will have a good result.

    If you are like 90% of the riders after doing the Plunge you will have bad leg cramps as you enter the feedzone. The trick here is to put in in a big gear and go as hard as you can until the cramps go away. Trust me it works.

    One of the things to realize is your entrance to the Jacks depend mainly upon how you seed yourself. It takes about 2 or more minutes for the whole field to clear start chute. On the pave climb, generally you can lose or gain at most 50 positions, which really doesn't effect the bottle neck at the start.

  12. #12
    ccm
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    Bottlenecks won't be as bad as back in the 90's since, much of the course has been made smoother (i.e. poodle pathed) and the technical ability of the average rider has gone way up.
    So go with the flow and relax the first half, then start your real race at the bottom of 9 Mile

  13. #13
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    Agreed 9 mile is where to start your race and if indeed you are a good climber this is where you will make time.
    Also consider where you will seed yourself at the start. If you put yourself a position or two ahead of where you think you will finish you're more likely to be ahead of those riders who may hold you up when you get to Jack's. So if you believe you'll finish in 4:30 consider at least a 4:15 placing or even a 4:00.
    Just a comment about the bottlenecks. With the organizers overselling the race to the tune of an additional 200 entrys the last couple of years, there has been way more riders plugging up the trails, Jack's in particular. By my count there were over 900 finishers last year in a race that was previously capped at 800 racers and often significantly less finishers.

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    Thanks for all the advice guys, I had a great race up until crumpit woods which was my own personal hell, but I still managed to blast my goal time out of the water and take 3rd in my category. wooop!!

    I felt super strong out of the gate so I wound up passing a bunch of people on the first climb. Jack's was a little slow but not too bad. I got super held up in dead end loop though, like, to a standstill.

    Strong all the way up 9 mile and lava flow, passed upward of 50 people. Happy with the way I rode the plunge considering how greasy it was. After the second feed I started feeling super light headed. My legs and heart rate were ok but I had a crazy headache and felt like I was going to pass out. Maybe I didn't drink enough, but it was hot so I made a conscious effort to drink more than normal... I know I lost a bunch of time there, felt super uncoordinated, but once I got back out on the pavement I was able to push it to the finish. Wow, I am worked!

    Happy to no longer be a test virgin!!

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    Hey, way to go!

    Crumpit woods is hell everytime. That long climb with all the switch backs after coming through the feed zone is a horror. I rode my HT this year and I was suffering all the way from the feedzone to the finish!

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    Thanks

    Yeah, the woods were pretty greasy after the crazy storm the night before which didn't help matters either. Congrats on your finish too.

    To top it all off, I unexpectedly got to meet Geoff Kabush and Catharine Pendrel yesterday. Unfortunately didn't get to hang out and chat, in fact, was a little too starstruck to even think to congratulate them on their wins!! Cool nonetheless.

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