A wet and wild ride 

Rain adds extra challenge to 67 km Test of Metal

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The first rider reports from the field to the finish at Squamish’s Logger’s Sports Grounds were off slightly, mainly because the course marshals couldn’t read the numbers on the race plates because of all the mud.

The mud was the story of the day Saturday. It caused crashes, pileups and all kinds of mechanical failures, from chain suck to snapped chains. It made it hard to see, hard to eat and drink, and all but impossible to clip your shoes back into your pedals.

But for the 800 smiling riders at the finish line, there was a feeling that this muddy epic, frustrating and sometimes dangerous, was what mountain biking is all about.

"I loved it," said Alison Sydor, the winner of the women’s pro title. "It’s a little reminiscent of riding the North Shore, but I’ve been riding in Europe for the past eight weeks and it’s just technical like it is here. At first (the Test) wasn’t enjoyable, but as the race progressed I felt more and more comfortable, it all came back to me."

Sydor sat in second behind Catherine Pendrel, who won all of the Primes, until the top of 9-Mile Hill, a.k.a. Bonk Hill. She passed Pendrel just before the descent, and didn’t look back.

Sydor has never ridden the Test of Metal course, but was familiar with the trails after coaching a camp for the high school championships over the past two years.

"Sometimes I had no idea where I was, then I’d see something familiar and I’d go ‘I remember this’ and I’d relax a little. It’s a really great course, really tough and pretty technical for a long course or a marathon course, and the conditions made it interesting, but it was a really fun ride."

Despite the conditions, Sydor’s time of three hours, 10 minutes and 13 seconds beat the course record by over a minute and a half, while Pendrel herself finished just behind Sydor in 3:13:34. Wendy Simms was third among the elite women in 3:20:34.

Sydor credits her decision to use a dual suspension bike, giving up a little climbing power for speed and comfort in the singletrack, for her win. "It added a bit of weight and made the climbs a bit harder, but I had advantage in the singletrack," she said.

Lesley Clements of Whistler was 10 th in 3:53:26, but was disappointed in her race. "I didn’t crash or anything, I rode all the technical stuff, my legs just felt dead today, I just didn’t have it," she said.

Joanna Harrington was 14 th in 4:08:11.

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