The Test of Metal mountain bike race in Squamish BC is legendary not only for its world class singletrack and beautiful scenery, but also because it is really, really difficult. The race boasts a 67km course, 35km of which is root infested singletrack, and 4000 feet of climbing. Despite the grueling challenge, the 1000 participant race sells out in a matter of minutes every year. For most, just finishing the race is an achievement.
Often, the Test of Metal falls on the same weekend as a European World Cup, but this year, there was no conflict. For team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain’s Geoff Kabush, a BC native, there was no question he would be there to contest the legendary event. “If you’re from BC, the Test is a big deal. It’s a true test of endurance and technical skills and winning it certainly entitles you to some bragging rights”, commented Kabush, who won the event in 1998.
Despite his 6th overall world ranking, the race would not be a cakewalk for Kabush. The field for the 2010 event was the deepest ever and featured the winners of every past edition since 1996, including 2009 winner Max Plaxton who set the course record that year. Also in the field was Rocky Mountain’s Marty Lazarski, Stefan Widmer, Kevin Calhoun, Colin Kerr and Team Kona’s Kris Sneddon and Corey Wallace.
From the gun, it was Kabush, Plaxton, and Lazarski stringing out the huge field with Sneddon and Wallace close behind. Kabush’s strategy was to keep the pace high at the beginning to break up the field to eliminate chase groups. “I punched it about ten minutes in and Marty and Kris followed. It looked like Plaxton was in some discomfort and that was the last I saw of him”, said Kabush. It turned out that Plaxton had a fall earlier in the week and sore ribs hampered his breathing ability.
Coming through the first feed zone one hour into the race, Kabush stormed up the hill in his big ring, barely slowing for his bottle. Over two minutes passed before Lazarski and Sneddon came by together with Widmer and Wallace close behind. An hour after that, on their second time through, It was Kabush still two minutes ahead, but Sneddon had gapped Lazarski by a minute. Cory Wallace came through in fourth with Kevin Calhoun behind him in fifth. Stefan Widmer fell victim to a double flat in the Powerhouse Plunge section and fell significantly behind.
With a comfortable lead, Kabush rode conservatively to avoid mechanical problems, but hard enough to ensure he beat the course record of 2:30:10. He came through the finish with a time of 2:29:25, 45 seconds faster than Plaxton’s time in 2009. Kris Sneddon came in 1:40 later and Lazarski, having ridden a flat rear tire for 3km, managed to maintain 3rd place.
“I’m really happy to win here today”, commented Kabush. “The crowd was phenomenal and the race course was super fun. My bike worked perfectly… it was the perfect day, really.”
source: Peter Vallance
Rocky Mountain Bikes