Test of Metal – Part One

Two of our members completed an incredible race this spring – the Test of Metal! We asked both of them to share their experiences so that we can vicariously share their glory…and their suffering. Here’s Sabrina’s description. Stay tuned for Sandra’s side of the story!

My Journey to the Test of Metal!

Anyone who knows me knows that I can be generally found loitering around bike stores all  over Victoria.  A while back I find myself chatting up a fantastic couple at a Friday social.  They seem lovely and more importantly, they motivate me, and after a beer or four they convince me that I totally “have” the Test of Metal (to be said in a loud dark under lord-like voice).  How hard can this be? It’s only 67km, doesn’t sound too far, right?

A beer or three more, he mentions that he’s going to do this in around 3 hours or so. I snicker, “I can ride my bike for 3 hours, what’s the big deal, I’m in!”  His wife has decided to do it for the first time and suggests we should train together.  We start training and I quickly realize that she may have a bit more fitness than me, so much so that every ride with her will feel like my lungs are bleeding.  But no big deal, I’ve already signed up, I’ll just have to suck it up!

So I upgrade the hardtail 29er.  Huh, who knew I may be a climber yet! I start climbing, riding, stretching and regularly visiting my massage therapist. In between my mountain bike rides I even rode my road bike to work a couple times a week.  I ate everything in sight, only stopping to ride and occasionally parent.

I bring a few of the ladies from the island to visit Sandra (who I’ve convinced should do this with me) to pre-ride the course.  We ride the first half of the course the first day and then the second half the second day. Only one major problem, just after the infamous Nine Mile Hill, we are riding in snow.   We get to what we believe is Lavaflow trail and are turned around.  All of us disappointed, that’s a lot of climbing to have come back down a fire road.

The big day arrives, just great, rain! Now I’m no meteorologist, but I would suggest this may be the first time I ride in actual torrential downpour. But it’s ok, it’s warm enough, I would guess 15 degrees.  Sandra shows up at the crack of dawn, wakes me up at 7am and mutters a few profanities about the time.  The race doesn’t starts until 11am, so we exhaust ourselves for 3 hours panicking in my hotel room about what we’ve gotten ourselves into. We get to the start line thread ourselves in based on start time and we’re off! First stretch of road, rider down! Some poor kid taken out half a kilometer in.  Then the climbing starts through a residential community and these people are dedicated. Outside in this rain, cheering us on, some have music playing, some have signs and pom poms.  I settle in and start pedaling.  A couple hours in I have come across what I deemed my new riding buddy Shaun, I introduce myself as we are clearly the exact riding speed and will be spending the next few hours together.  We get to the top of Nine Mile Hill and he yells back “grab some watermelon and get moving”.  Yep, we’re going get along just fine.

So, I’m climbing away and wouldn’t you just know it, my front brake has completely failed and am now stopping and having the first aid crews massage out my forearm cramps from having to fully brake with my rear brake.  I keep pedaling and eventually roll up to the top of the Powerhouse Plunge (insert Jaws theme song here).  It is so wet and muddy I just know I’m going to be walking this trail and that is going infuriate me after all this climbing, so I decide to snack!  Surprise, a lovely race ambassador pulls up and it dawns on me that this guys knows this trial like the back of his hand.  So I ask if he minds if I follow him down everything and he says, “sure, jump on” and just as it gets technical and slippery I yell, “oh yah, we’re going to have to do this fast, I don’t have a front brake”.  I even got to ride the big crazy slippery root! I’m not a religious person, but by the time I hit Endo trail, I was praying for good lord to take me now, I was almost out of water, my nutrition was off all day and I lost my friend Shaun!

I’m riding down some bluffs and I know the end is near, I can hear crowds and music again and I’m pushing as hard as I can.  Why? I don’t know, the actual winners have been home, showered, napped and are at the pub waiting for us.  I cross the finish line, drop my bike and ask a random spectator for a beer!  I look a few yards in front of me and there’s Sandra who greets with a big hug still muttering profanities at me.

Next up, Transrockies 3…and yes, Sandra signed up too!



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