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Downtown festival kicks Test into gear

Pre-Test party features games and live music

Although the amazing race doesn't officially begin until a funky-garbed Cliff Miller says so, the second annual Test of Metal Pre-Test Party promises to get people in the mood for strapping on their pedaling and dancing shoes on Friday (June 19).

Organizers are busy lining up a series of cycling-related games and competitions for kids and adults while local musicians get ready to supply the rhythm for Squamish's biggest weekend of bikes and drained muscles.

Last year's inaugural Pre-Test Party showed that race weekend can be fun for the entire family, said organizer Sheila Cassels. The focus of the event is to create a positive festival atmosphere where everyone can feel a part of the North Shore Credit Union Test of Metal, which runs June 20.

"We just thought, why don't we make it even more fun and not just about the race, even though it's already an amazing race?" she said.

Local bands the Dead Heathers and the Jamatonics are headlining the celebration at the Howe Sound Inn and Brew Pub from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. while racers load up on carbohydrates at a $12 buffet between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The Dead Heathers was formed in the Squamish Valley and thrive on creating original and energetic sound. The Jamatonics, meanwhile, perform in both French and English, and recently received songwriting and public choice awards at the Canadian Parents for French B.C.'s Pacifique en chanson event.

Jamatonics vocalist Mathew Bergeron said the two bands are closely knit and members are eager to contribute to the positive community vibe that continues throughout the Test of Metal weekend.

"For us it's kind of going to be like a big public jam for us because we're always playing together. As far as how we work the crowd, we like to make the people dance and make sure everyone is having a good time and the energy is transmitted by the music and makes people move," he said.

DJs Riddem Fernandez and Sheila will also be performing.

Republic Bicycles and Brackendale Bistro are kicking off the event by rounding up cyclists for a Show n' Shine Cruiser Ride to the downtown area between 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., picking up bikers at meeting spots along the way.

There will be a registration table set up on Cleveland Avenue where residents can sign up for events, the first of which is the team funny races at 6 p.m. Squads of four bikers try to stay poised on wee wheels contributed by Recycle Bicycle while working up pedal power as fast as possible.

The Velcro Olympics will ensure people stick around to watch local celebrity opponents battle it out in a giant inflatable obstacle course made of, well Velcro, of course. Competitors are outfitted in special suits and have to tear their way through the course in this noisy race. The celebrity races start at 6:30 p.m. and the course is open to all ages shortly after.

And who ever said cards need to be kept on the table? Certainly not the organizers of bike power, which starts at 6:30 p.m. for kids and 7:30 p.m. for adults. Two-wheeled gamblers tour town collecting cards and the best hand wins.

Throughout the Pre-Test Party, participating local businesses are offering 25 per cent off merchandise to those registered in at least one event.