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Gears ran smoothly

The weather was hot, but the times of the racers were even hotter in this year's edition of the GearJammer on Saturday (July 24).

The weather was hot, but the times of the racers were even hotter in this year's edition of the GearJammer on Saturday (July 24).

Blasting through the 30-plus degree heat, Matt Martindill of Vancouver finished the 40-km cross-country course in a time of 2:10:23, more than six minutes ahead of the next closest competitor.

Two-time Test of Metal champion Brennan Covey was the fastest local rider, finishing second in the Master 30-39 Expert Men category and sixth overall with a time of 2:19:52.

The GearJammer, a 40-km mass-start cross-country mountainbike race through Squamish's famed network of singletrack, was the host race for this year's Cycling BC Provincial Championship, and organizers were more than happy with how the day unfolded.

"The race came off very nicely," said race director Curtis Roberts. "The organizing committee did a very good job. We've been getting emails from racers who've said it's the best race they've ever been in - which is a really nice compliment."

The race saw nearly 300 of the province's best riders pedalling their way from the mass-start at the Alice Lake, up to Mike's Loop, across the new Mashiter bridge, through Middlesmart, into Pseudo-Tsuga and down to Garibaldi Park Road, into the technically-challenging Power-house Plunge and the narrow singletrack of the Crumpit Woods, before emerging out into the open for a Tour de France-style sprint all the way to the finish line at Stan Clarke Park in downtown Squamish.

"It was a great finish," said Roberts. "A really great place to finish a race."

Several Squamish riders won their respective categories, cementing the community's reputation as a mountain biking powerhouse.

Gavin Arnott claimed first place in the U-17 Sport Men, while Michelle Demers took gold in the U-19 Citizen Men.

Citizen riders are all non-licensed riders that compete in the race, and a special award was given to the first citizen riders to cross the finish line. The Squamish Cup, a "salute to grassroots racing", was handed to Julie Tennock as the first female citizen rider to finish, while Squamish's Chris Christie won in the male category.

Other locals to top all other racers in their respective categories were Jude Goodwin, Citizen Women 50+, speed-demon Heather Rochetta, Jr. Expert Women, Maria Sederholm, Master 30+ Sport Women and Scotty Wooley, Master 40+ Sport Men.

One of the race favourites, local cross-country specialist Neal Kindree, did not start the race because he came down with the flu just days prior to the race.

"Unfortunately Neal had the flu all week and didn't race," said Roberts. "It's too bad because he really had a shot at this."

Although most of the racers came through the course unscathed, Squamish Search and Rescue had to remove two racers who had crashed almost simultaneously at different locations on the course.

"The accidents were bad enough that Search and Rescue had to go in and remove the people," said Roberts. "But they both appeared to be okay."

Overall, the race was deemed a huge success by race organizers, and was given the thumbs up by Cycling BC Technical Director Gary Jackson.

"He thinks it's an excellent race course," Roberts said. "He was present all day and really liked the race. Squamish volunteers have done it again."

The race was presented by the Test of Metal, and they agreed with Jackson and the rest of the GearJammer crew.

"I think we've got a winner here," said SORCA President and TOM race director Cliff Miller after the race.

Roberts said the race will definitely be a go next year, but they may bump the event back to September, to bookend the racing season in Squamish which starts with the Test of Metal and will end with the GearJammer.

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