Squamish Test of Metal - Race Report- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1

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    Squamish Test of Metal - Race Report

    Race Report on my race today.. ill try to keep it short

    The race is called the Test of Metal, it's in squamish (45mins north of Vancouver). It's a 70km long, pretty technical blast of a race. This is my second year racing it (I wasnt old enough before then). The weather was pretty bad, about 13 degrees celcius and raining. The whole course is completely wet and muddy.. oh well, i've got an awesome mud tire in the rear, should be a good adventure. I'm racing U17 Expert, not too strong of a field this year, 4 main competitors; me, my teammate, Maurie Kowalski, Trevor Bant and Sean Stanhope. The race was a mass start of 800 people, I ended up getting a pretty bad starting position, around 2-300th, furthest back of the four of us. Right off the start, I was feeling really good, just flying through everyone. There is about 15mins of climbing on road and some double track before it funnels into some singletrack. By the time we hit the top of the road climb, I was somewhere around 60th place, ahead of everyone I was hoping to beat. Once everyone settled in, I ended up riding with a group of people, mostly semi-pro men, and... Alyson Sydor. I have raced her before, and, starting this season, we're pretty equal, so I knew I was in the right place. This pack of 10 or so stayed together for quite a while, a little over an hour and I was still feeling great. Everything was going perfect, halfway through the race, I was about 5-6 mins behind the lead male. We went through a feed zone which marks the beginnign of 9 mile hill (yeah.. ouch..) I wasnt too worried about it, kind of assumed that i'd fly up it just like everything else today. Well.. I though wrong. about 2mi into 9mi hill, I bonked. It came fast and it came hard. One second, i'm drafting another guy, in about 2/4, just cruising up the hill, and then about 200m later, they're all riding off without me . So now, ive still got 7mi of uncomfortably steep fire road to climb, a wicked downhill section and then finishing off with another 30mins of steep, mucky single track. I manage to trudge my way up the hill, then start Ring Creek Rip. It's mostly downhill with some mucky flat sections that just drain your energy. I was managing to float across the steeper, downhill rocky sections, but am getting passed quite a bit in the flat sections. Then you start the Powerhouse Plunge. Pretty technical, steep, rooty, rocky switchbacks for the next 15mins or so (hard to tell). By this time, i'm completely bonked, having a hard time riding at all, making stupid errors, pretty much falling over due to a complete lack of energy. Then, I got passed by a rider in my category, Sean Stanhope. I finally decide to take a rest, drank about 2/3 of a waterbottle of gatorade which helped a lot and I managed to ride the second half of "The Plunge" without too much trouble. I got to the last feed station, grabbed my bottle full of Vanilla Coke (this last part of the race, I knew i'd need something with a kick). I stopped for another couple minutes, took a gel, drank about 500ml of netural powerade which helped a lot and was able finish the race up okay.. not fast, but okay.

    My (unofficial) time was 3:36, my goal was about 3:05-3:10, Sydor was 3:10 and the lead male was 2:49 (Ricky Federau). I'm not sure about why I bonked so bad, probably due to not enough food the night before.. oh well, there's always next year. Now i've gotta rest up for the Elk Horn Classic next week ( https://www.elkhornclassic.com/ )

    Ride hard!


    Course Elevation Map -

  2. #2
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    the big story was the mud - absolutely the worst, slowing everything down, making the bikes impossible to shift. Last year I complained about the heat and the dust, but I think that was a lot better than the mud. Was fun anyhow

  3. #3
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    I think one of the lessons is to start taking nourishment sooner. I'd recommend something with less zip to it, too. For a three hour race you should start getting something in just before one hour, so it has a chance to get into your system. Stuff with a lot of sugars in it hits fast but can drop you badly if you don't get more in soon enough.

  4. #4
    Tear it all out! SuperModerator
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    Bonking isn't fun. Good result though.

    I was wondering how wet & muddy the race was, I was up on the Sunshine Coast Saturday and it rained off and on most of the day.

  5. #5
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    ... and if we just ... A Citizen Clydesdale's perspective...

    Quote Originally Posted by full_xtr_racer
    ...about 2mi into 9mi hill, I bonked. It came fast and it came hard. One second, i'm drafting another guy, in about 2/4, just cruising up the hill, and then about 200m later, they're all riding off without me .
    There is a reason it is called Bonk hill!

    Here is the story from the opposite end of the pack.

    I'm a "weekend warrior" and ToM is the one race I do each year just to challenge myself. Gives me the motivation to keep "in shape" (a relative term) and riding all year. This is my second year attempting ToM, I DNF'ed last year due to some tire problems that made me miss the top of bonk hill cut-off. This year I was extra-worried, I've had a lot on my plate for the past few months, and spent MUCH less time training this year than last...also my new "do everything" bike, a 2004 Cannondale Gemini 900 is by no means an XC machine. The bike is stock except the seat and some FireXC 2.1 tires and XC tubes, bringing it down to about 35lbs (not bad for a 7"x7" bike!). The Gemini has served me well well for the past 9 months (me = 6'6" 265+lbs) on everything from the whistler bike park to 3+ hour trail rides...just a change of the tires, and a flip of the rapid travel adjustment on the fork takes it from an XC trail bike to a freeride/downhill bike (for me). ;-) Having attempted ToM on a hardtail last year, I was not sure what to expect on this "big" bike.

    I started somewhere in the middle the citizen riders pack (somewhere around 600th). It is funny starting back there, because you hear the starter's gun go off but you do not start moving for at least 15 seconds. I took it easy right from the start, just pacing myself to the speed of the riders around me...until I got to the first hill, and started getting past by the crowd behind me. I did however find a pack of riders who where also granying up the hill and decided to stick with them. Our little pack pretty much stayed together for the first part of the race, up to the first cut-off at the powerhouse party. We made the first cut-off with 20 minutes to spare. My wife and puppy where there to cheer me on.

    Then I started up bonk hill. Being a "super clyde", gravity is not my friend (at least not up-hill), so bonk hill was a good mix of spinning in Granny and hiking the steeper parts for me. I actualy found that I was going faster hiking on the steep parts than spinning in 22-34...so I just hiked those parts, while I did get passed by many (smaller) riders who where able to ride the whole way up, funny enough (to me), I was able to catch up to some poor soles that where spinning, while I was hiking.

    Over an hour of biking and hiking later I made it to the bonk hill cut-off with time to spare! (where I got cut-off last year) The cool weather and rain helped that section I think, as I did not feel like passing out at that point as I did last year (VERY HOT and dry last year). I was feeling pretty good in fact (considering)...I topped up my hydro pack at the drink station, and continued my ride/hike up the rest of 9 mile hill. It started pouring rain at this point and was pretty cold. The rain let up a bit when I got to the top, and then I started the down hill...the part I was looking forward to (boy was I wrong!).

    Think rooty muddy single track...then let 700+ riders ride through it ahead of you in the pouring rain. The mud was insane, slippery as axle grease, and covering EVERYTHING! At the top it was not too bad, but further down the hill I got, the worse the mud got. By "the powerhouse plunge" (a section that many riders walk even when it is dry), I had crashed twice, and was wishing I had not swapped out my sticky downhill tires for the FireXC's. I'd made it this far, as long as I do not crash and hurt myself bad, and/or break the bike, I was going to finish...therefore I took to walking over any obstacle that I had any chance of slipping on and crashing (which is too bad, that trail would have been wicked on the Gemini with a little less mud and some better tires). After walking most of the plunge I made it back out at the Powerhouse Party...just in time to watch the volunteers start tearing down, but still got some cheers. (that is one great thing about ToM, no matter how bad you are doing, you get cheers from locals the whole way along) Chugged down some poweraid and sprayed down my gears and detailers at the drink station until they kinda shifted again, and continued on thinking..."at least I made it down the plunge...Crumpet Woods should be a walk in the park now"...wrong again.

    In the dry, "Crumpet woods" is a nice little network of single track...a little uphill, a little down hill, a few technical sections...in the wet, after 700+ riders have gone threw it, it is a never ending trail of mud, roots and pain! I think the mud was worse there than on the plunge, which had me walking ankle deep through it for much of that part. It seemed to go on forever...

    Finally I emerge from the woods onto the road to a small crowd of cheering locals. After a couple hours of slipping all over the place in the mud, and walking most of the time, it felt great to be back on the bike...and actualy riding. I gave it all I had from there to the finish line, passed 4 or 5 other slow-pokes in my mad dash to the finish line, gears skipping all over the place on the way (everything was clogged with mud!)...and I came across the finish line at 6:23:00 (745th place). Hardly impressive, but I achieved my goal for this year...I finished!

    My buddy who crossed the line almost an hour ahead of me snapped this picture of me achieving my goal. (see attached)

    Now I am sitting here, two days later, still aching from my adventure...and already planning for next year with the goal of beating my own time!

    sh0rty :P
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
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    Way to go gut it out guys, nice to hear a report from both ends of the spectrum.

    FXTR I know that BONKing feeling only once, but I still know it and how bad it feels - way to carry on on a climb with it. If you've got the right food/thing to get you back (POPs cereal is mine- has some serious sugat and starch and sits good) you can get back pretty quick, if not it can be some serious agony.

    Sh0rty way to go gut it out at the back and have to slog through all the mess that was left, must have felt great to finish the race. I bet you're still feeling it. I did my first a solo "slow epic" myself on Sunday - 6 hours out / 4 hours riding, 43 miles, some nice scenery and 2 sets of pinch flats w/ bad inner tubes as spares - and my legs are still feeling a bit sore, more pumped from it and maybe the 40 miles I did on Saturday.
    Last edited by LyNx; 06-20-2005 at 08:42 PM.
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  7. #7
    amg
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    Sounds like you guys had a good race, both of you finishing in the face of adversity - bonking for xtr, and the sea of goo for sh0rty. Crumpit was worse than the Plunge, I think, because you didn't have gravity on your side...

    I like the Test of Metal because I don't worry about how anyone else is doing, really - it's the only xc race I've ever done - and everyone is so friendly it's like a group ride with 800 people! I've ridden it twice, this year and in 2003. I'd hoped to be a bit faster this year, but with the mud I ended up being a bit slower. Still, I was pleased with how I paced myself, I was done for sure at the finish, but didn't bonk or cramp up on the way. I finished in 5:44:10. The volunteers were awesome, and I was impressed that the rec centre would let hordes of muddy mountain bikers decend upon them to shower for free after.

    Anyone going to ride Gearjammer as well? Its only 47km!

  8. #8
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    I want to try the gearjammer as well as the cheakamus challenge. But this is my first year of real mtn biking and i just keep getting better and better. But then again I'm working on riding up to midstation 3 mornings a week to get in shape

  9. #9

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    Good job sh0rty for finishing! I have tons of respect for guys like you who dont live on their bikes and somehow manage to drag a boat anchor across the line :P
    Dont be fooled by the gear jammer's shorter distance, its actually as hard as the TOM.. lots of short, steep hills. I suggest going for it, just be careful, its no lil walk in the park. I'm probably not going to race it, there are a lot of important road races around then (ya.. shame on me) and I need to rest up so I dont burn out.
    Cheakamus Challenge has always been a favourite of mine. I'm not sure if you've met Grant Lemont (the guy who puts on the cheakamus), but he's a bit.. odd... lol, halarious though. He's doing the trans rockies with my uncle.. ok back on topic now. CC is an epic grunt. Littered with hills, not much technical sections on it. It's a different race from Gear Jammer or TOM, so once again, go ahead and give it a shot, but be prepared for what you're getting into. Talking to Grant on saturday, he said something about a shorter version that starts about half way through.. no real details on it yet, i'll let you know if I find out more about it, but possibly a good idea.

    Keep riding!

  10. #10
    amg
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    Thanks for the tip on gearjammer - I have heard that it's harder, mainly because the climbing is on trails rather than logging road like the ToM. I figure I'll go up and ride the course one weekend and see what I think - the race is a long way from full (cap is 500 entries) so I have time to make up my mind. Hadn't thought about doing the Cheakamus Challenge, have to look into that one. I might be interested in a shorter version just to check it out so definitely post up if you hear anything. Next year I want to ride the Rat Race xc as well (Sunshine Coast), looks like a fun course, but I had to work at the race this year so I couldn't ride.

  11. #11
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    I feel your pain. My story is similar, but I bonked in a different spot.

    Bonk hill actually helped me. I moved from 11th to third on that climb. The only problem is that my wife didn't make it to the feed zone in time and I missed my bottle. I had to conserve on fluids and decided to back off on gels as they'd get stuck in my throut without some water. I felt great at the top of the climb, but bonked once I hit Crumpet Woods. I fell from third to tenth in the last half hour of the race. I also noticed the next day that my lock-out cable was seized and rode all of Crumpet Woods rigid. Dam that mud!!

    My goals were top 20 and under three hours, so I can't complain. Finished in 2:59 in tougher than expected conditions. Man that is a long race!! So much more fun than the Cheakamus though. The Cheak is all uphill, then it's over!. I like the Test because all of the climbing is rewarded with awesome downhill single track.

    See you next year!!

  12. #12

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    That really sucks Ryan... I heard that a tour bus thing was late getting to powerhouse.. oh well, what can you do..

    You should really think of upgrading to Elite Men, not just citizen category lol, you blew away everyone in your cat

    Are you gonna go to any BC Cup races this year? I'll try to find you and say hi

  13. #13
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    I didn't race Citizen. Other than the Marathon and Pros, all other categories got mixed in with the Citizen categories.

    I would have raced Marathon, but it had an extra fee associated with it. I raced Pro the last two years. Seeing as this is my last year of racing, thought I'd try Vet Exp a try. I don't feel too bad as a 40-44 beat me.

    Yes, I'll be racing the full BC Cup. Went to Hemlock and will be at Panorama this weekend. [email protected]

    Cheers,

  14. #14
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by sh0rty
    There is a reason it is called Bonk hill!

    I gave it all I had from there to the finish line, passed 4 or 5 other slow-pokes in my mad dash to the finish line, gears skipping all over the place on the way (everything was clogged with mud!)...and I came across the finish line at 6:23:00 (745th place). Hardly impressive, but I achieved my goal for this year...I finished!

    My buddy who crossed the line almost an hour ahead of me snapped this picture of me achieving my goal. (see attached)

    Now I am sitting here, two days later, still aching from my adventure...and already planning for next year with the goal of beating my own time!

    sh0rty :P

    congratulations on finishing!!!...i find it hard to do anything for six and a half hours
    " No! try not, Do or do not. There is no try. "

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