Seemingly unbeatable local hero Neal Kindree (Specialized) managed to keep his charging competitors at bay, despite some strong challenges, to secure a second consecutive Test of Metal victory. Sechelt’s Kris Sneddon (Kona), one of the country’s top riders, battled hard with Kindree, but was eventually unable to follow the lanky hometown rider and had to settle for second at just under two minutes back. Sneddon’s teammate, endurance specialist Cory Wallace (Kona) of Jasper, finished third, while American rider Giancarlo Dalle Angelini (NW Sho-Air) took fourth spot. Another speedy local, youngster Quinn Moburg (Corsa Cycles), sprinted into the top five to take a spot on the coveted podium.
On the women’s side, the win was a long time coming for Coquitlam’s Sandra Walter (Liv/giant Canada), who last won the event back in 2001. For much of the race, Walter was in fourth position as local Brandi Heisterman (Trek Red Truck) sped away and out of sight on what appeared to be an unstoppable tear, snapping up eight of the 10 lucrative $100 community business sponsored primes as she went. Chasers Kate Aardal (Ridley’s Cycle) of Calgary and Jean Ann Berkenpas (Xprezo Factory Team) of Maple Ridge marked one another in their efforts to bring down the gap to Heisterman, while Walter chased alone. Eventually, the effort of Heisterman’s initial attack took its toll, and the XTERRA racer was forced to slow down and relinquished her lead to Berkenpas, who was still being shadowed by Aardal.
Walter caught and passed Heisterman on the Ring Creek Rip descent, then came upon Berkenpas on the side of the trail with a flat tire just before the entrance of the infamously technical Powerhouse Plunge downhill. Before long, Aardal was in her sights, and by the halfway point of the Plunge, Walter had claimed the lead. Motivated by fear, Walter pounded the pedals and fought cramps all the way through Crumpet Woods and along the roads and paths that were the run-in to the finish line to cross in first with a time of three hours and eight seconds. Aardal hung on for second place, while Berkenpas managed to maintain a top-three spot, despite her puncture. Heisterman rolled across in fourth place, with Jennifer Schultz (Balance Point Racing) taking fifth.
Other highlights of the day included the marking of the 20th Test of Metal starts for both Sue Weston and Paul Craig of Pitt Meadows. The Local Ride Racing team duo has participated in the competition since before it was located Squamish on the present-day course.
Also, in partnership with Q Energy, the top two male and female finishers were entered into an exclusive draw to win a trip to the Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas to participate in a truly epic 270-kilometre one-day mountain bike race, the Tour of the Dragon, in September.
The Test of Metal feed zones were major party places, as is tradition, and featured music, costumes, and cowbells galore. A spin-off of the Blue Man Group was also in attendance, cheering and offering pushes to riders in need.
A special shout-out goes to Ryan Taylor (NRG Singlespeed) of Penticton, who placed an impressive 23rd overall on a fully rigid single speed.
The next Test of Metal takes place on June 14, 2014. Registration for this renowned event traditionally opens to non-locals at 6:00 p.m. on January first and has been known to sell out in minutes.
Official Test of Metal photos by Double Shutter Images HERE.
Full results HERE.
More info at www.testofmetal.com