At 67.5 kilometres, with an estimated 5,000 vertical feet of climbing, the Test of Metal isnt the easiest way to spend an afternoon. Still, there are some people out there who are always looking for ways to make the Test even more difficult.
Take the 27 people who signed up for the inaugural Ultra Test this year, completing the almost 40 km GearJammer course before taking on the Test of Metal. Together, that adds up to some 105 km of mountain biking, half of it on singletrack, as well as 8,000 vertical feet of climbing.
Others riders do the Test on tandem bikes or single speed bikes to bump up the level of difficulty.
Still, it was one of the Test of Metals founders who took the most difficult route to the finish line this year by completing two Squamish classics in the same day.
Kevin McLane started his Test day at 4 a.m. by climbing all 11 pitches on the 2,200 foot Grand Wall of the Stawamus Chief and hiking back down in less than four hours with his partner Andrew Boyd. Afterwards he headed home to rest and refuel for the Test of Metal.
"It was a little bit tiring but it was a fabulous day," said McLane, 56. "A couple of months ago the idea occurred to me, and I thought why not? Ive ridden the Test four or five times, Ive climbed the Grand Wall many times, and I was in no doubt I could do it. I wondered what it would be like to link the two together and have a bit of an adventure."
McLane and Boyd swapped leads all the way up the Grand Wall, moving as fast as they could to give McLane time to prepare for the Test.
"The goal was to really move fast on the climb and get down with some time to spare. With the Test it was to just ride steady and make sure nothing goes wrong and get to the finish," said McLane. "It was funny, but when I got to the start line (of the Test) I was the mellowest guy there, which was kind of cool."
McLane says the accomplishment was personal and that he didnt set out to create a new challenge for others.
"I think in the future well probably see a lot of this sort of thing because the corridor is becoming a smaller, tighter place and its harder to have those big adventures where nobody has been before," he said.
"But we can all customize our own adventures any way we want. Link-ups like this are already pretty common among climbers. On other occasions Ive done three routes on the Chief in a day."
McLane finished 17 th in the Citizen Men Age 50-Plus race in four hours, 28 minutes and 28 seconds. It was slower than his previous times, which he says has more to do with the fact he hasnt ridden much this year than the fact he spent his morning climbing one of the biggest granite walls in North America.
Along with Cliff Miller, McLane helped to found the Test of Metal in 1996, revamping an existing race to become one of the most popular epic races in North America. This year the Test of Metal sold out all 800 entries a record three months in advance.