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Test of Metal 2007-Mud Sweat and Gears

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I would like to congratulate all the trash talking Sunday ride brethren on what looks from the results like a pretty successful Test of Metal. We had it all there on Saturday to make it just like a flood preparedness seminar, water, mud, and sandbaggers. This is the way the ride went for me. tom_07_eric2_copy_2

Lined up with the 799 other dingbats who were unlucky enuf to register,and just like every other year I go try to find a spot in the pack where I will know no one.  I don't want to get sucked in to trying to chase some Galby riders wheel that I have no business being anywhere close to, and blowing myself up before we even hit Jacks trail.(Because we all know that none of us from the Sunday ride are competitive. right.) That worked just fine till I retrieved my bike and was standing right next to Jeff Hanninen,and two spots behind Ernie Bodie. 


So I marked both during the climb out of town and tried to keep their pace, which left me just about shattered when we reached Jacks. For a guy who looks as old as my dad I couldn't drop him and sure didn't want to lose him, ol'Ernie and I half wheeled each other right into  the jeep roads before Jacks, where with several subtle trail manovers he proceeded to try and take us both out. You know at that climbing pace Ernie could probably finish 10 minutes ahead if he didn't slow down to have a polite word and little chat with everyone he passes riding his way through the course. It was only after getting caught behind him several times on the single track that I realized, he was being nice to everyone he passed so no one would hit him with a tire pump after he caused a massive trail convulsion. (Jonathon would feel right at home on those lines, maybe Jeff too from what I had heard, and later saw)


My race was going pretty well early. I had gathered myself up about halfway through Jack's, so when I hit the road at Alice Lake I was pretty comfortable pace lining all the way to Rock and Roll. Feeling good and knowing where I was, I forced myself to eat a power gel, (please note for your own sake strawberries and banana flavour may sound pleasant enuf but when your heartbeat is 160 that stuff kicks on the gag reflex like rancid roadkill). After a uneventful Rob's corners and a very smooth Roller Coaster I was shocked to go through the new course routing and end up at the powerhouse party way before I felt I should be there. I cruised the flats before 9mile with what seemed to be a defective front fender as I managed to get so much sand and crap in my eyes that from that point on my lone water bottle was just used to try and flush my eyes.


I rounded the corner to start 9mile and felt comfortable spinning in my middle ring almost all the way to Bonk hill where I had to stop and finally manually put my chain onto the granny (as even my trusty foot to shifter technique wasn't getting it done), when Ernie passed me. I spun for about 100 ft when I got chain suck and decided walking instead of me breaking my drivetrain was a better idea. With Bonk hill several steps behind me let me say this about the ring creek rip. I didn't see any of it. I spent the whole time trying to blink crap out of my eyes and uttering expletive deletives about how sore my sprained thumb was while trying to work out both shifting and braking duties in between throbbing pain.


The plunge. The plunge was beyond gross, it was 2 inches of ground banana slugs on top of an inch of oil drum sludge placed ever so gently upon what seemed to be iced rocks. I caught up to Ernie, we passed Jeff who was leaking from a leg and looking a bit rattled. We carried on where Ernie did some offbike acrobatics when I decided it looked like fun so I did the same thing in the same spot, but with much more grace. I did get by Ernie soon after as I continued "oh crap"ing down the plunge. With my thumb going yeeouch the whole way.


I made it through the powerhouse party the second time and was greeted by the cheering of my children who were adorned in matching "Put the Pedal to the Metal" shirts my lovely wife Mel had fashioned.(If you did see them you would have smiled too) Mel was also yelling something about me being ahead of someone and to go go go. I had no idea at the time who I was ahead of because that was all she had said is that I was ahead. So I pedalled. I was pounding along at a good pace when I pounded up a small rise and heard the chain grab 1/2 a gear change. I made a mental note to just ride smooth and sighed a big sigh cause I thought I had dodged a bullet. Then the guy behind me said "Dude, you broke your chain". Oh shit.


It was during the refixing of my second effort to fix my chain that I fully realized who Mel had said was behind me. First Bognar passed me during the initial break ( you would be the sandbagger referred to earlier.Nice ride Ken, apparently your knee feels ok). Then Ernie got me during the mental breakdown that had me connect the chain but miss the second derailleur pulley in the formula. Jeff passed by shortly after Ernie and after that Frank h'Ammeratti who I had suspected to be miles ahead of me at this point came rolling around the corner.


 To say I was mildly unimpressed with this turn of events would have been the same as saying traction through crumpet woods was only as slick as the plunge. It was laughable, as a parade of multicolred spandex clad nerds pushing $3000 rigs up 2' inclines where there was no traction went on for what seemed like a mile. During the stoopid parade, there was a period where Frank, Jeff and I road in a sorry line and I wondered how it was that with a field of over 800 where we had already completed 60kms of the race I was riding with 2 guys I knew. We played patticake between ourselves for a while,as we would take turns taking poor lines and making mental mistakes allowing the other to slide past. Frank got by me when I made one of those mental gaffs.


I could see Frank ahead on Plateau dr, he was pulling some roadie wannabe who was drafting him like it was a team time trial. I thought to myself, if I don't hurry up and do something soon I am gonna run out of time. I got by him right at the start of Smoke bluffs, convinced myself to push hard and go, and went. I didn't bother to look back and take inventory of what Frank was doing but I suspect by the comment of "bastard when I went by him, he wasn't going to let that be the end of it. I was making a good run until I hit a 3 man convoy that was in cruise mode in the horse trails 1km before the end. I was sure it was all coming down to a sprint finish because I swear I could hear Frank breathing down my neck. You'll have to ask him about it though because when we crossed Finch Dr I saw a way past the cruisers and snuck by. After barely making the 90 degree corner 100m from the finish I pulled up to the chute and saw that wonderful clock that said 3:53 something, saw Mel and the Boys cheering, tried not to puke on my shoes and repeated that ever memorable Test line of "well, with that over I can enjoy the rest of my summer".


I can honestly say I am happy with my finish, my time, my place. I thought I rode about as well as I was going to.Better actually. I can wish that my chain didn't break and that I was more proficient at fixing my gremlins and mechanicals but hey shit happens. I beat 4hours, I am happy. It is just icing on the cake that Jeff and Frank, Bruce, Jonathon and Mike were behind me.


Congrats to those that I didn't see. Matt and Sheldon, very nicely done, hey it might not have been just as you dreamed it up but it is damn solid nonetheless.


Bognar, you sandbagger again nice job. Now go pay attention to your new wife.


Bruce should get some notice as well. He had a month to get himself together and he did a very respectable job. His best finish, bike in one piece.


Mike Dolling has only had the cast off his hand for less than 2 weeks. It was his first time and he was less than 4:29. Nice work.


Frank I honestly thought you were going to be at least 10min faster. Thank goodness for that cruise I guess.


Jeff under 4 in his first attempt is very solid.


Jonathon well, there is always next year. Fat is lighter than muscle, eat a bag of baco crispies or two and you won't have to haul all those bothersome muscles around.


Ernie congrats you're just some big ol stud, nice ride.


Eric Barnsley

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