With 1,000 spots in the 2008 Test of Metal selling out on the first day, there’s no question that the 67-km mountain bike race is one of the most popular in B.C., if not all of Canada.
The host town of Squamish also happens to be one of the fastest growing in the province, and there are literally dozens of projects underway or waiting in the wings for approval that could impact the town’s valued trail network.
As well, logging and other resource industries remain busy in the area, and two years ago the Powerhouse Plunge — arguably Squamish’s most famous trail — was threatened by a logging operation. The town rallied to Save The Plunge, and succeeded in minimizing impact to the trail, for now.
Rather than fight the same battles over and over, this week the organizers of the Test of Metal announced a plan to have the entire Test of Metal race course designated as TOM Sports Park.
“We’ve had a small committee working on this idea for several months,” said race director and TOM President Cliff Miller. “It is time to get some public support for our proposal.
“People who mountain bike in Squamish know that our trail system is under constant pressure. This will help to protect for years a piece of the resource that we’ve developed here.”
The course currently runs on a variety of trails, a mix of public and private property, as well as Crown and district lands. Some of that land falls in timber harvesting tenures, or is held by Crown corporations. The TOM team would start by having public lands in the District of Squamish declared parks, then work with private landowners and tenure holders to try and secure an uninterrupted route for the race.
“People seem to understand the importance of this race to the community, and the will is there to find a way to make it work,” said Richard MacKellar, who is developing the concept for the Test of Metal. “While recognizing that this will be a marathon, not a sprint — it will take time — we’re quite confident that we can make this happen.”
The Test of Metal has been following the same basic course since 1996.
To support the concept of a TOM sports park, visit the website at www.testofmetal.com and add a comment. Soon organizers hope to have a form letter that people can sign.
Opening rail jam on Sunday
The Telus Park Rider Sessions get underway on Sunday, Dec. 14 with a rail jam in the Whistler Terrain Park. The event is open to skiers and snowboarders of all ages, with different age groups sessioning the rails and boxes in the time allotted to their category. The judges and commentators keep the atmosphere fun and the skill level progressing for the event, and afterwards all participants are eligible to win draw prizes donated by sponsors.