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Count down to the Test of Metal

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Chariot races, trials competition part of bike festival weekend

With the Test of Metal, the main event of the Squamish Mountain Bike Festival selling out all 800 spots more than two months ahead of this year’s race, it’s safe to say that the event is gaining momentum.

"This is the highlight of the year for mountain biking in Squamish, which is recognized as a Mecca," said Cliff Miller, Test of Metal race director and organizer of the Squamish Mountain Bike Festival. "It’s a big draw for recreational racers from all over and also for pro racers, as the Test of Metal is now an International Cycling Union (UCI) sanctioned race."

Although the race is sold out, spots are still open for carded racers. With NORBA losing its UCI sanctioning this season, pro mountain bikers from Canada and the U.S. are expected to take part in this year’s Test of Metal to earn UCI points that would allow them to compete in three North American World Cup races this July.

Although the 67.5 km Test of Metal, with its gruelling uphill climbs and technical descents, is the highlight of the festival, it’s far from being the only attraction.

The events get underway this Friday, June 20, at 7 p.m. with the annual Show and Shine. Bring your cruiser bike and show it off to the crowd.

The Show and Shine is followed by the annual Intergalactic Chariot Race at 7:30 p.m., where cyclists tow their partners on home-made chariots around a short race course in downtown Squamish.

Both members of each team have to work together to stay upright, and even then it’s tougher than it looks. Get there early to get a good look at the action, because this event draws a crowd.

The Test of Metal gets underway with a mass start at Brennan Park Recreation Centre at 11 a.m. Saturday. Race check-in starts at 8 a.m. and closes at 10 a.m. sharp.

The Test of Metal course is extremely tough with more than 1,200 metres of climbing and 35 km of singletrack. There are cash prizes as well as UCI points for the first men and women to cross the line. The first 25 men will receive from $300 down to $40, and the first 10 women will receive the same. In addition, draws will be held during the race for the other racers.

The race ends at the Logger’s Sports Centre, adjacent to Brennan Park.

Five minutes after the mass start, the Teen Test gets underway. This race is limited to 300 entries and there were still open spots at press time on Wednesday.

The Teen Test features three categories for youths aged nine to 14, and a shorter course that takes about an hour to complete. Parts of the course overlap the Test of Metal course, including the singeltrack trails of the Far Side and Crumpit Woods.

"With the Squamish Mountain Bike Festival’s family emphasis, we needed an event for the up-and-coming generation of mountain bikers," said Miller. "The Teen Test is a participation event – it’s not for fame or glory but rather the thrill of competition and friendship amongst the racers."

The day wraps up with the official Test of Metal after party at the Howe Sound Inn Brewpub, featuring punk legends D.O.A.

On Sunday, the festival features a Mini Metal for kids aged 3 to 9 at the Squamish Station Mall. Starting at 10 a.m. this event features a short track with an obstacle course.

At 11 a.m., the Rock Star Invitational Freeride gets underway in Valleycliffe. The course starts on Cougar Ridge, runs to the bottom of Endo, and out onto Raven’s Plateau.

The event was created to involve the growing freeride community in the festival, with a spectator-friendly show on some of Squamish’s steepest, rockiest and most technical trails.

The invitation list includes a list of 30 top freeriders from the area.

At 10 a.m., the North American Trials Championship gets underway at the end of Cleveland Avenue in Squamish Town Centre, featuring the top trials riders in the world.

Some of them happen to be B.C. natives, including the Baia brothers, Jason and Steve, of Arnmore, Matt Nathans of Vancouver, Mike Bentham and Dave Adelman of Victoria. Whistler’s James McSkimming was second in the sport stock category last year, and has improved with each season.

If you’ve never seen a trials competition, the object is to ride and hop from obstacle to obstacle on a bicycle without putting your feet down. The winner is the cyclist with the fewest number of "dabs" or foot checks. As spectator sports go, it’s pretty unbelievable stuff.

The trials course will be held at the log sorting area, and will feature log, rock and water sections.

The trials event is still open to the public, with registration on the day of event at the site of competition.

All of the events are rain or shine. More information is available on the Squamish Mountain Bike Festival Web site at www.testofmetal.com.

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