Yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck!! That about sums that 67km of mountain bike riding! I was hoping the forecast of rain and 13 degrees would be slightly wrong, but nope, I think they have the forecast pretty dialled in Squamish. And I have 4th place pretty much dialled!! Going to have to change that for the Furious3!
Nothing like warming up in full Goretex to set the tone for the day. Opted out of glasses for the day, but was really missing them on the road start...well, missed them for the whole day but I know after the first 10 minutes I wouldn't have been able to see anything, so why bother. Nasty road crash only 5 minutes into the race along the highway. I didn't see what happened but the sound was gross; metal and carbon and other bits colliding in a cacophony of bad noises.
Typical Test start, mellow till we hit the climb, then it's a testosterone fuelled hammer fest, with a couple really fast chicks, all the way to the single track. Last year I blew up more then a little on this climb, so I tried to scale it back a little, but with Brandi up ahead and Wendy right in front of me setting the pace, I worked hard to stay as close as I could.
I know a couple of these girls are stronger climbers then I am, so my strategy was to stay as close as possible during the climb and work my magic on the downhill. Well, my lack of intensity training soon became evident as the climb seemed to go on forever....and once you hit the dirt it's not over...I think you continue climbing for an hour!! OUCH.
I wasn't able to stay on Wendy's wheel...which would turn out to be the wheel I really needed to stick with...and had to scale it back a little and just settle into my own pace. Cruising along I actually thought I was doing pretty good, hurting but felt solid. Then all of a sudden Mel McQuaid flies by me leading a train of 5 guys like I'm standing still. I will admit, I maybe wasn't feeling as solid as I thought and had a mini break down with the pace she had passed me at. It took me a few moments to pull myself back together and settle back into my rhythm. Popping out on a section of road, I grabbed the nearest wheel I could find and sucked road spray as long I could till I popped off the back...thanks for the pull. Little more painful climbing, then some single track climbing and to my surprise Mel was right in front of me!!
Hit the top and down Rob's Corners...trouble with being a little slower climber, you get stuck behind some people when you really just want to rail the descents, but hey they earned that spot in front of me so I sat in a line of guys, just itching to go faster, all the way to the bottom of RollerCoaster. I think this could have been a really fun trail if it was open in front of me....and I could actually see where I was going!! Regan was watching here said all he could see were two white eyes in a face cake of mud....spa treatment at 40 km/h!!
Back onto a small road section I buried myself to catch back up to Mel, and passed her just before turning and dropping down into more fast descending. Out through the feed zone and up the infamous and much hated 9 mile climb. I had somehow convinced myself from last year that this climb wasn't actually 9 miles but much shorter.....bad mistake to make.....while cracking half way up I was cursing my optimism at the bottom!! Looking over my shoulder a couple times I didn't see anyone, giving myself a little breathe and settled into a good pace.
Just coming up the very last climb I was really surprised to realize the "dude" behind me was actually Kate Aardal sneak attacking up behind me!! Wow, I need on the Trans Portugal program!!! Super super super ...I mean super fast descent, moving into the really tight and technical singletrack AKA "The Plunge". I put a small gap on her, and with a bunch of the flailing men (sorry guys) I tried to put as many people in between us as possible. Dropping out onto the gravel road to and up through the feed zone, climbing after descending for 30 mins my quads started cramping up bad!!! Passing a girl being pushed by a guy I asked "Where's mine!!!??". Kate managed to put herself right behind me and stay with me the entire last section of the race. I think she felt my weakness...haha...and passed me with only a little trail left to go and hammered. Small slip on the trail, jerking the bike back I was hit by a great big hamstring cramp.....and managed a BIG yell. This last section of trail was littered with bodies of guys in the bush yelling in pain trying to massage out leg cramps!!!
Out on the road, Kate was just ahead of me, perfectly placed at the tail end of a train of guys.....and I was just out of reach!!! Bad place to be. I pushed hard, but that was about all I had left in my body and could only watch them get farther away from me. Head down I slogged through the last couple turns of the course and was soooooo happy to somewhat see the burry finish.....and my second 4th place finish at the Test of Metal!
Huge congrats to Wendy for her first Test of Metal, Kate Aardal for killing it in the last half of the course and actually managing to pick up 2nd and Brandi Heistermann for hanging in there till the bitter end...and picking up 9 primes!!! Next year I really am going to have to move up on that ladder.
Want to send out a huge thank you to my mechanic Regan Pringle for having my bike dialed and working amazing, especially considering the conditions....I'm sorry about the shape it's in now. A huge thank you to the guys at Champion Systems for my awesome new kit!! I love it, and the chamois has stood up to the worse possible riding conditions and was actually still comfortable at the end!!! And all of my other great sponsors this season!!
Tour de Victoria 140 this weekend, Furious3 next weekend...watch out Kate, I've got your number this time :-)