The countdown is on for the annual Ore Crusher mountain bike race, the first event in the Test of Metal Group of Races and the first major mountain bike event in Sea to Sky on Saturday, May 11.
Also called the "Republic of Brackendale Nationals," the race is hosted by Republic Bicycles and takes place on a selection of relatively flat beginner and intermediate trails in the Cheekye Fan area. Participants will do three laps of the course, with a total distance of roughly 40km.
This year the race will start at Republic Bicycles and race up Government Road to Don Ross Secondary School before entering the trail network.
The race is as hard as you make it. There's almost nowhere on course to relax if you're racing and competitive riders will be pedalling almost non-stop from start to finish. A lot of riders do take a slower pace, however, using the event to tune up for a season of riding.
The entry fee is $40, plus a $5 trail improvement fee.
As for the trails themselves, the Cheekye Fan area has seen various upgrades and improvements to the area, including new singletrack sections to replace sections of road and double track. The course will be pre-marked this week to allow participants to pre-ride the trails.
Last season the race — and every event in the Test of Metal Group of Races — was won by local Squamish rider Neal Kindree. He completed the course in 1:50:54, averaging more than 20km/h from start to finish.
The top female racer was Sandra Walter, finishing in 2:12:08.
While that's fast, it's still a slower average speed than events like the Test of Metal, where there are long downhill sections and descents, plus road sections where riders can travel a lot faster.
For more information or registration, visit www.testofmetal.com.