While it’s always nice to know who won a mountain bike race, it’s even better to know who worked the hardest. While the hardest workers are usually at the back of the pack, this year the hardest working and the fastest turned out to be one and the same: Neal Kindree.
The Squamish rider seems to be winning everything these days, so it came as something of a surprise at Saturday’s (July 21) 10th annual Gearjammer event when a young Australian of similar abilities showed up to give Kindree a real run for his money.
With packed race schedules all over the globe, you simply never know who’s going to show up to the Gearjammer. So when Kindree started the race thinking it would take just a hard ride to win, he learned quickly that he was not going to get the gold without a fight. Jake Haig, the hot shot U23 rider, made sure of that.
“It didn’t take long for me to realize I was going to have to play this course smart,” Kindree said after gutting out the victory in two hours, 26 minutes, 22.4 seconds, just 10 seconds ahead of Haig.
“I wasn’t sure who he was but someone was definitely giving me a run, so I let him lead to get a handle on what I was up against. It wasn’t until the end of the course I thought I had a chance to pull away and the first two attempts didn’t work out for me.
“It wasn’t until the Smoke Bluffs section that I was able to cut loose with a little help from locals’ knowledge. That last bit you can actually straight-shot bomb, but you can’t tell that from just looking at it.”
Kindree was quick to thank the volunteers for all their help. “I don’t get a chance to thank the vollies on the course but everyone does such an amazing job putting on these events that stand up with the best of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
In a crazy random happenstance, one sweep found a brand new compression bandage on the trail so naturally he picked it up and passed it on to the sweep, who happened to be a nurse. Not five minutes later, a rider was down with a slashed calf and was quickly cleaned, bandaged and escorted to the hospital (props to Squamish General).
The finish line was again at the impeccably maintained Rose Park jammed packed with racers, riders and well wishers.
Sandra Walter came home as the top women’s pro-elite rider in 2:46:11.5, some 23 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. Squamish’s Linda Robichaud placed a strong sixth. The top male 60-69 was North Vancouver’s Rick Williams and top female 50-59, all the way from Regina, was Christine Martyn.
For full results visit www.testofmetal.com/pages/gearjammer/results.php