Test of Metal – Part two!

I don’t know about you, but I’d practically forgotten what rain feels like. Wet roots? What are those? Mud? I’m used to sliding around on powdery dust! So it’s fitting that after living through such a rainy weekend we bring you part two of the Test of Metal story. You’ve heard from Sabrina – here’s the event through Sandra’s eyes!

Cardio, cardio, cardio is all I can say for this 67km mountain bike race. While there are technical trails, it’s primarily a cardio challenge. Not an overly exciting course to ride, loved Cliff’s Corner, Rob’s Corner, descending down Mashiter’s trail at high speed and Roller Coaster’s twists and turns. After that, I just want to blank it out, boring uphill hell. Wouldn’t be so bad if I trained harder but there lay the challenge for me. I confused my own training, first of all by not having a training plan and second by training for a half marathon in between which was two weeks before the Test of Metal.

I put little thought behind signing up for this race. I heard it was a difficult race but didn’t think too much about it. I had the Sabrina MacLeod bad devil whispering notions in my ear to do it. I had never raced on a bike before and having run a couple of half marathons previously, I said to myself ‘how hard can it be to race on a bike?’. Like I said, little thought behind it.

So, race day came by fast. I had everything ready I needed the night before. I arranged to meet Sabrina at her hotel at 7.30am approx. I wanted to get out of Vancouver early having convinced myself that the roads would be busy. In my head, all 850 riders were coming from Vancouver! With all the time we had before the 11am race start, we sat back, took it all in and laughed hard about everything and anything. Once we got to race line up, I was relaxed and eager to go. The rain started to pour down heavily. We were drenched before the race had started. I didn’t care. We were all in the same boat. 6km into the race, I had to take my glasses off. I couldn’t keep the rain off them. As we hit the trails soon after, I had to squint to stop the mud from getting into my eyes, which left it difficult at times to see. The crowds and volunteers were amazing, so encouraging, which turned it into a very sociable and fun ride. I got up the dreaded bonk hill with no issues. All hell broke loose after the 9 mile bridge. My legs were starting to get tired. I was off and on my bike like a yo-yo. The trails were so muddy at this point. All sorts of noises were coming from my bike chain. I pleaded with the Gods for it not to break. The dreaded Powerhouse Plunge trail had yet to come. When I got to the trail, there was no chance of me even attempting this one. I had never seen a trail in such a muddy mess and a bike with so much mud on it. This was hike-a-bike from start to finish. I was super happy to get that over with. At this stage, all that was left was a series of blue single track trails, which on a normal day would be fun but when really low on energy, it was more uphill hell! This is where I started to kick myself for not training more.

The sight of the finish line was a thing of beauty and so was that beer that was handed to me straight after. Sabrina came a long and we just laughed at the sight of each other. Pigs in mud had nothing on us. Will I do it again next year? Possibly … might be good training for the TransRockies Challenge that the Sabrina MacLeod bad devil has convinced me to do next July. Why do I listen to that girl?! I guess she’s fun to ride with but we won’t tell her that 😉