Squamish is a former logging town that is on an inlet 45min north of Vancouver that now relies on tourism instead of logging. Squamish is mostly known for its rock climbing and is sought by climbers from all over the world. Squamish also is known for its trail system has some of the most epic trails in North America. Squamish has the largest piece of granite that is on the east side of town, which has housing development built on top of it. A saying in Squamish is “In Squamish you are either up or down”. The people of Squamish are very friendly, easy to chat with, and easy going.
The Test of Metal has been around since 1991 and is still the most popular Mountain Bike race in Canada (also the largest). The racecourse is 67km of double track, single track(37km), and some pavement. The race starts at the Recreation centre and goes out into the outlying area of Squamish. This year’s race sold out in 24 minutes, and has 900+ racers racing in it. One of unique things about this race is it is all community operated. And the whole town of Squamish gets involved in organizing and running this Epic event.
Off the start and until the single-track entry the lead riders were taking turns up front and jockeying for position, but no one was able to hold the front all the way. Strategy for the road section was just to hang on until the single track. As the riders get closer to the single-track the road gets steeper and steeper which puts some separation in the group of riders. The group has really strung out as we crest the top. Watching all of this from the back of the pace vehicle while taking photos puts a different perspective on it. It wouldn't be fair to cheer for one rider when you know half of the Elite field. You can see the faces grimacing from the pace that they are going at.
The first section of road after the single-track there was quite a large crowd of spectators, about 200 or so on the street sides. Geoff Kabush was in the lead and at this point Stefan Widmer was only 1:39min behind. Both Stefan and Geoff were off to a good start. At this point Catharine Pendrel was in the lead for women, and would be for the whole race.
The next stop was at the pump station, but with all of the spectators and racers it was difficult to get there in time for the lead riders. The TOM is not the most spectator friendly race, there are only a few points to see the racers, and the spectator spots are far out of the way. Aside from this the race was a huge success with Catharine Pendrel and Geoff Kabush winning their categories. (Elite Women & Elite Men)
At the finish all of the racers had smiles on their faces, you would think after such a sufferfest that they would have the look of dismay or defeat. It was all smiles and no cries, the TOM is a race that brings people together and it doesn’t matter if you have a $10,000 bike or a $1000 bike, there is mutual respect and camaraderie between everyone.
Would like to thank Paul Demers, Cliff Miller and all of the organizers and volunteers. Without them this race wouldn't be so special as it is. Also the TOM is the largest race in Canada.