Rob Wall's Blog

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Posted by robjwall on June 20, 2011

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Yesterday I was in my first bike race for 24 years, the Squamish “Test of Metal”.  I think its a great race, not because its long (67km of hilly single track mountain biking), or technical (some ‘black’), or hard (it starts with a vicious 300m climb), but because of the spirit of the competitors and volunteers.  People are really good about letting you past, or asking if they can overtake on the narrow sections.  They stop and help each other.  It feels like the whole town is involved somehow –  handing out food, or doing first aid, or racing.  My favourite part was ‘Roller Coaster’, you are aware of hundreds of people cheering you on, but can’t actually look up from the twisty trail!  The biggest rush was making some of the bridges on ‘The Plunge’.  The hardest part was the top of ‘Bonk Hill’, which mercifully had a food station at the top.  I can’t believe how much fruit, cake, gel, and sport drink I consumed at the 5 feed stations!  The most embarrasing part was overtaking a lady on ‘Endo’ not realising that I was potentially pushing her close to a cliff-edge (sorry!). I nearly cried twice, not in pain but joy, once going past the Smoke Bluffs which reminds me strongly of the time with the whole family last year, and the other was at the start.  The enitre 1000 people observed a minute of silence, and listen to a beautiful solo rendition of ‘O Canada’ by a young girl.  No flags, fights, or flashy patriotism, just 1000 people on bikes proud of the country they have, and intent on enjoying it.

When the song ended the racing seemed to just begin (a couple of minutes later for me seeded to do 4.5 hours) While riding I saw sally, Tessa Amy, Dave, Kira, Mike, Peanut, John Helig and Adam, all cheering me on like they meant it –  thank guys.  And thanks to all the people I have never met who volunteered to hand out food, and be there if I had a real crash.  During the race I caught up Dave S, and Brian on the hill, but Dave got past me at the top feed station, and I never saw him again!  My time was 4 hours 11 minutes (450th out of 1100 odd  registered from the results), which is about an hour quicker than I was expecting.  It rained all friday night, so the trail was very muddy.  If I do it again I’m going to take clear glasses, as I had to stop many times to get mud out of the eyes.  I am also going to seed myself higher up, and go harder up the first hill to try and avoid some of the bunching up.  Finally thanks to some other riders who dragged me around some training trails recently: Maureen, Scott, Kira, Demelza and Tarquin, and a huge thanks to Dave and Karen for putting Kira and I up.

Today was the SPC Howe Sound ‘Toonie’ race and I got to paddle Daves fast new surf-ski.  Loads of fun, but colder and flatter than I am used to!

Tomorrow

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