Test of Metal a family affair 

Squamish siblings Neal and Meghan Kindree win elite titles

With heavy rains the day before the 11 th annual North Shore Credit Union Test of Metal there was something to be said for being at the front of the pack:

"(The Powerhouse Plunge) was pretty wet, almost the wettest I’d ever seen it, but it’s not that bad when you’re one of the first guys down," said 2006 Test champion Neal Kindree. "It’s the guy who’s the 500 th down who I really feel bad for, everything just turns to muck."

Kindree used his local knowledge of the trails to wait out Seamus McGrath, one of Canada’s top cross country racers for the past decade, on his way to the finish.

McGrath had the lead coming to the end of the singletrack, with Kindree on his back wheel. When they came out on the road, Kindree blew by McGrath, who was riding the course for the first time and wasn’t entirely ready for the sprint to the finish.

"It was extremely close," said Kindree. "Seamus was third at the Commonwealth Games, and he’s an amazing rider. I basically rode on his back wheel wherever I could, and on the last 50 feet of Endo I turned it on so I would pass by (Seamus) at the end of the trail with a lot of speed and from there I kept up the sprint to the line. I’m so happy."

Kindree is a Squamish local, and after a breakout season last year he is recognized as one of the top young riders in Canada. He finished a close second in last year’s Test to Ricky Federau, who was the reigning Under 23 national champion. Kindree was at 18 at the time, but age has never been an issue.

"I think I’ve been capable of winning this race for the last two years, but it just didn’t happen," he said. "A lot of stuff happens on a long ride like this, things don’t always go as you plan. That’s racing. But I’ve been doing this (the Test) since I was 12, and I’ve wanted to win it so bad since the first time I did it."

But while he’s always dreamed of winning his hometown epic, Kindree’s goals have grown almost as tall as he has. While the Test of Metal was a big goal coming into the season, he’s also looking ahead to the World Cup race in Quebec next weekend, the national championships at Sun Peaks, and the World Championships in New Zealand. A little further down the road he’s looking to the Olympics in 2008.

McGrath said he was happy with his race, given that he was riding the course for the first time, and was very happy for Kindree.

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