Just like Christmas, the Test of Metal only comes once a year.
But instead of presents, stockings and elves it’s all about spandex, mud and grease.
The Test of Metal, the crown jewel of the Squamish riding season, goes down on June 14 and over 800 riders will take on the 67 kilometre course.
The course features over 1,200 metres of climbing and 35 kilometres of single track and can take anywhere from two and a half to six hours or more to complete.
This year will also likely mark the crowning of a new champion, with the status of 2012 and 2013 TOM champion Neal Kindree uncertain.
The Squamish resident was absent from the Orecrusher in May and has not replied to emails sent by The Squamish Chief questioning his status for the race.
Even without the presence of the defending champion, this year’s field of participants is as strong as ever and some of the top contenders include:
Kris Sneddon: The Sechelt native won the Orecrusher in May and placed second to Kindree in 2013. Sneddon also won the 2013 BC Bike Race and won the TOM in 2011. He recently returned to B.C. from the seven-day Trans-Sylvania Epic where he was third overall before the final stage when he had to pull out due to illness.
Quinn Moberg: The 20-year-old Squamish resident finished second at the Orecrusher and the Sunshine Coaster this year and looks to improve on his fifth place showing at last year’s TOM.
Max Plaxton: The 2012 Olympian stated in an interview with Canadian Cyclist in February that he was likely doing the TOM this year. Plaxton was the first ever cyclist to win in consecutive years (2008 and 2009) and he hasn’t competed in the TOM since then.
Other male riders to look out for include: Oregon’s Chris Sheppard, Alberta’s Cory Wallace, Squamish’s Greg Day and North Vancouver’s Kevin Calhoun.
Top women riders expected to participate include:
Sandra Walter: The defending champion and Coquitlam resident has dominated the Squamish scene the past several years with wins at the Orecrusher, JABR and TOM.
Catharine Pendrel: In an interview following the Orecrusher in May, Walter told The Squamish Chief that Pendrel is likely to make her return to the TOM. The 2012 Olympian won the TOM in 2011 and 2010 and will look to reclaim her crown.
Other female riders to watch are: Maple Ridge’s Jean-Ann Berkanpas and Brackendale’s Brandi Heisterman.
The 2014 TOM is also the first year that Cycling BC and the TOM are officially joining forces.
Cycling BC introduced the BC Youth XC Mountain Bike Series for 2014 and it is based on the TOM Group’s four Squamish based races.
“We are very lucky to have this opportunity to work again with the Test of Metal Group,” said Cycling BC’s Executive Director Richard Wooles. “The new mountain bike series will feature shorter races within the Test of Metal events’ popular long-distance format to allow younger riders to get involved in the sport. It just makes sense.”
Cycling BC kicked off the series with the Orecrusher in May and it continues with the Test. A shortened course will see Cycling BC officials track and record the top times for all youth involved in the race. Riders in the series all start with the main field and have the option to complete the full course if they wish.
Some of the top young contenders include:
Rhys Verner: It’s been a great 2014 biking season for the Squamish native and he’s won the male 14 to 19 category at the Test the past two years. Verner also finished second at the first youth cup race at the Orecrusher in May. Last year he placed 67th overall and will have added incentive with the youth series.
Mahon Lamont: The Whistler resident posted the top junior male time in the Orecrusher for the inaugural youth cup race and will look to follow that up with the Test. He placed second in the 14 to 19 age group at the Test in both 2012 and 2013.
Luke Di Marzo: The Team Squamish member has been posting impressive results at Canada Cup races in 2014 and placed fourth in the 14 to 19 age group at the Test in 2012 and sixth in 2013.
Sean Fincham: The Team Squamish member placed first in the U17 male division for the youth cup at the Orecrusher and placed third in the 14 to 19 age group at the Test in 2013.
Other Team Squamish riders to watch for on Saturday include: Ethan Toom, Tobin Hubner, Harry Head, Parker Mell, Holden Jones, Huntington Jasperson and Michael Kilby.
It’s not just the big race on Saturday that Squamish residents can look forward to, TOM weekend is jam packed full of all types of events for the whole family.
In addition to the epic race, Saturday also features the Linda Carney Rotary Cares Celebrity Challenge. The challenge kicks off right after the start of the TOM and is a fun race that runs to Perth Drive in the Garibaldi Highlands.
Funds raised from the challenge helps families who require financial assistance with health related problems that are not covered by other sources of medical funding.
Also on Saturday is the TOM after party, which occurs at 10 p.m. at the Howe Sound Brew Pub. This year’s featured act is folk/soul/roots artist Buckman Coe.
The always popular Mini-Metal kicks things off on Sunday (June 15) at 10 a.m.
But this year it’s a brand new location for the young future TOM riders as the course now runs along the Loggers Creek trail system and finishes at Brennan Park.
The race is designed for kids on run bikes all the way up to 24 inch wheel bikes and helmets are mandatory for the event.
After the Mini-Metal, it’s the annual downhill tradition known as the Rockstar.
The event starts on the top of Cougar Ridge, runs to the bottom of Endo, and out into Raven's Plateau.
Spectators are encouraged and the Rockstar is an invitational open to all Squamish riders. The route provides the ultimate singletrack technical challenge, with steep twisting lines, big drops and a myriad of challenging obstacles.
The Rockstar usually occurs in the afternoon but it can be weather dependent and final details are expected to be ironed out during TOM weekend.
It all kicks off with the big race starting at Brennan Park on Saturday at 11 a.m. For more details on the weekend, visit www.testofmetal.com.