The Test of Metal is the kind of race that isn’t easily forgettable, with mountain bikers making the trip from all over the Pacific Northwest to ride the epic Squamish course each year.
But Saturday’s (June 16) edition of the 67-kilometre race will go down as one of the most memorable, as driving rain led to very tough conditions and riders crossing the line caked in mud from head to toe.
“It was a mud bath. It was unbelievable,” said Michael Robinson, who netted the best result by a Whistler rider by finishing 16th. “That’s the wettest race I’ve ever done in Canada, without a doubt.”
Ultimately, Neal Kindree won his hometown race for a record fourth time on Saturday while several Whistler and Pemberton riders managed good finishes in what most considered the wettest and muddiest version of the Test that there’s ever been.
Kindree finished in two hours, 34 minutes, 24 seconds, topping the Test for first time since winning three straight between 2005 and 2007. He held a big gap over Oregon’s Chris Sheppard (+4:18) at the finish, while Jasper, Alta.’s Cory Wallace came in seven minutes back to round out the podium.
“I’m happy with how it went but I had to keep my eye on Sheppard for most of the race,” said Kindree, who entered the day tied with Carter Hovey for total Test of Metal men’s titles at three apiece. “I just pushed hard after the fourth checkpoint and didn’t look back from there.”
Nanaimo’s Wendy Simms won her second women’s title in 3:07:19, having also won in 2008, while Calgary’s Kate Aardal edged Team Whistler rider and Brackendale resident Brandi Heisterman by 15 seconds for the runner-up spot.
Robinson, who broke the three-hour barrier at 2:55:54, was somewhat surprised to learn it was the third-straight year he’s been Whistler’s quickest entry in the Test of Metal.
“To be honest, I feel like it’s my worst event of the year,” he laughed. “But it’s a super fun event. The amount of people that are there just creates an amazing atmosphere.”
Team Whistler’s Michael Boehm clocked in at 3:08:32 to finish 32nd overall and fifth in the men’s 35 to 39 age group.
Other local riders who placed in the top 100 overall included Whistler cyclists Quentin Emeriau (58th, 3:14:38) and Joshua Stott (65th, 3:15:42) and Pemberton residents Russ Wood (77th, 3:18:17) and Terry Evans (97th, 3:23:59).
Team Whistler’s Mahon Lamont was the top local junior, finishing in 3:26:50 to place second in the men’s 14 to 19 group, while Austin Reith was third in the category at 3:30:21.
Cathy Zeglinski was the top female rider hailing from Whistler, finishing ninth among all women with a time of 3:31:39. Her signature pink jersey was looking decidedly less pink as she crossed the finish line covered in mud.
“Everyone was unrecognizable and I, like everyone, was locked into a battle of inner willpower,” said Zeglinski. “I ride the trails all winter and have never seen such grim conditions.”
Meanwhile, Team Whistler’s Tony Routley captured the men’s 55 to 59 age division by reaching the finish in 3:33:57.
Though most of the field managed to finish in less than 4 ½ hours, both Robinson and Zeglinski saluted those who stuck it out in the conditions for even longer on Saturday.
“Everyone who raced was a hero in my books,” said Zeglinski. “I am so impressed by the last place woman taking three hours more than I out there — what guts. My teeth were chattering by the finish — I can’t imagine being out there longer.”
Full results are posted at www.webscorer.com.
— with files from Ben Lypka, Squamish Chief