Friday, June 24, 2011

Muddy Test of Metal

The “Test” has quickly become over the years one of the classic race in the Sea to Sky corridor. The race usually sales out in 20 minutes on new years day…. That’s how popular the event is. But why is it so in demand? Well the course takes you through a wide range of great single and double tracks, the course is less technical then a lot of other races, the Squamish community really gets involved as there is always a lot of spectators and most of all, it is just a good way to push your limits on a mountain bike.

This last Saturday, 826 riders lined up at the start. It was pretty amazing to see so many people with their bike and the energy is always phenomenal. Even if woken up by the rain in the middle of the night and warming up under light precipitation, I knew we should be looking forward to a fun event. After the Canadian Anthem, it was go time and wow did the race ever start fast!!! The pro Elite males set a pretty nice pace through the subdivisions in Garibaldi Highlands then onto a double tracks, which brought us to Jacks Trails. From there, the pack started to space out a little bit. The fun part about such a big race is that you are never really riding on your own! The nice flowy Jacks trail brought us to Alice lake for a section on pavement, Double Track and then single track again. We had a fast descent through Rock & Roll which is AWESOME and back to a fast descent onto Roller Coaster. We then crossed the subdivision again to climb towards the University and enjoyed a quick rip towards the Nine Mile Hill Climb… The weather was actually perfect for the climb since by that point the rain had stopped but it was still cloudy. I remembered last year climbing the hill under a blistering sun with no shade, so I was really thankful for the cooler temps! It still didn’t make the climb any shorter unfortunately but at that point you just keep the head down and go with it. At the top of the Lava Section (where the race course reaches it’s highest point) it’s always a bit of a relief to start flying through the Rim Creek Rip, which was particularly grassy and slippery. Then came the famous PowerHouse Plunge which is the most technical section of the Test. Funny enough and it’s like that at every race, spectators line up all at the “Crititical Corner” in order to take pictures of the best crashes!!!!

After the plunge, we entered the Crumpit trails and connected to the Smoke Bluffs for a fast rip home! 67 kms of mud and giggles. It really was fun and hard all at once.

Result wise, there were some very amazing performances both in the men and woman categories. Congrats to Catharine Pendrel for her 2:45, she truly is inspiring to see go so hard on her bike!!! And Kris Sneddon 2:32. Congrats also to my friend Michael Robinson for his 15th place and for improving his time from last year! On my side, I started a bit slow and worked my way up to a 5th place overall in the Female Elite Category. I have to say I was a bit intimidated with all the big names at the start line but part of racing pro elite is to be up there at the front and I have to say it’s been one of the best move I made since it’s given me the opportunity to push more, learn and still have an amazing time.

Congratulations to all the racers who passed the test and also all the volunteers and organizers who made the event possible. Thx also the Skookum cycle for letting me use a spare wheel for the race.

Full Results:

After the test, we rewarded ourselves to some typical Whistler Riding! Thx to Ian & Andrew for a really fun Sunday ride! What an adventure!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nimby 50 Report

Last weekend in Pemberton BC was an event worth driving 6 hours for; the Nimby 50. It has been a while since being on the Coast so it was also a great opportunity to visit friends and enjoy some of the finest Sea to Sky mountain bike trails.

My friend Amy and I left on Friday in order to check out the course a bit before the race. We rode a bit of the first part of the race but we certainly wanted to check out “Overnight Sensation” a typical Pemberton trail with steep, loose and technical sections. It was good see the best lines down before actually racing! We then fueled up with at one of the restaurant you can’t avoid when in Whistler… Sushi Village! It may have not been the best pre-race food but it certainly was “golden” for the soul! And it was also a great opportunity to catch up great friends (Thx Karine & Carl!).

Race morning, we took our time driving to Beautiful Pemberton. Te weather was ideal for a race… sometimes Pemberton can get smoking HOT but the day was overcast and actually a bit on the cold side early morning! The excitement was rising as the cars were pilling up near the industrial park. Racers were doing last adjustments to their bike then riding back and forth on the highway to North Arm Farm in order to warm up! Again, seeing familiar faces and catching up with friends almost took away the stomach butterflies we always have before an event! We lined up in the field at the farm for an 11 am start. The fire department conducted the riders for the first 2 kms of the race on the highway, then onto Pemberton Farm Rd. That section was pretty cool…. No need to rush, just keep on following the peloton…all we could hear was the music of the tires on the pavement and the sound of the wind made by almost 300 riders. As soon as we got to the logging road, things changed pretty quickly. The long and at times steep climb up to “Radio Tower” was enough to spread out the pack. A quick section of single track brought us back down on a loose gravel road and then started the ever so long CLIMB...! We took the Happy trail up which is not technical but has many switchbacks. Then we kept going on the Waco Connector, a nice flowy trail a little more flat. It was the only down time really before the climb up the Nimby… nothing less then 101 switchbacks up and up… I did not remember the climb being SO long! When we had the feeling we were getting close, we just had to look up to see the racers lining up going back and forth in the forest to realize that we still had a long way to go. Finally at the paragliding launch, we started to go down on a logging road section to gain Overnight Sensation, a great downhill trail. I would say that the trail is AWESOME on a 5” travel bike and bigger, but on a 4” you really had to watch it! It was challenging and a great experience. Also while racing you don’t really have the chance to stop and look at the line so it was more a “Oh I hope this is the right way? Here we go!” kinda dialog in my head! After the descent, the

racers were brought over to the Mosquito lake trail network for some steep climbing. By that point, the legs were starting to be a bit punched but the riding was amazing, specially on No ERR, great trail of endless slippery rock slab, roots & mud in thick west coast forest! Another trail where if it’s your first time riding it, you just hope it goes, hang on to your handle bar and let the bike rip down! We finally lapped back up one more steep climb before getting into other challenging descents Ramble Down, Moby Dick & Dark Forest. A fast rip on the gravel road, back to the highway and back at the farm for an amazing after party! Western Promises provided us with amazing after food and the ambiance was amazing with Mt Currie just above us.

As far as results, congrats to Neal Kindree, who finished 1st, Kevin Calhoun 2nd & Greg Day 3rd. Also big massive congrats to my friend Michael Robinson who has been training like a mad men and finished with a really great 5th place in the Pro Elite Category! Amy also did very well with a 10th place in her age group! Good work girl!!! On my side, it was my first time racing pro elite and I would lie if I said that I was not having a bit more stress then usual at the start of the

race. Things went very well as I finished 2nd in the pro elite cat and 3rd over all! Big congrats to Ann Yew who got to the top of The nimby 1st. Congrats to Jennifer Shulz for her 1st place and Megan Rose for 3rd place. Cathy Zeglinski also had a great race finishing 1st of her category and 2nd overall.

We enjoyed a great night of catching up with friends (Happy B-day again Rose) after the race and went back for more in Squamish the following day. My pedal broke halfway in the ride… fortunately, it did not happen the day of the race! Next will be the Famous Test of Metal on June 18th! Also, this week, the 2nd toonie race in Revelstoke!

Full Results at: