By Andrew Mitchell
Registration for the 12 th annual Test of Metal mountain bike race got underway at 6 p.m. on New Year’s Day, and completely sold out all 800 spots in just 48 minutes. By the time the first hour was up there were already 255 people on the waitlist, and by the end of the evening all 500 spots on the waitlist were filled.
By way of comparison the 2006 Test sold out in four hours and 19 minutes. In 2005 it took just over five days, while the 2004 race sold out on March 9, almost three months after the race went on sale.
“This simply blew away our expectations,” said event organizer Cliff Miller. “We thought that we’d beat last year’s four hour record, but under an hour is mind blowing.”
This year the race organizers held a “Test of the dog that bit you” New Year’s Day registration party where they watched the registrations come through in real time.
“We set up an LCD projector and computer to watch the registrations come in,” said Miller. “We cooked up some double-smoked ham, but it all happened so quickly that no one got a chance to eat before the registration was full.”
The organizers pushed back the registration time from the normal noon on Jan. 1 to 6 p.m. to let racers enjoy their New Year’s Eve without stressing about registration. While the time change no doubt helped speed up the pace of registration, there’s no denying that the race is more popular than ever with a hardcore following of riders that take part every single year.
Some of those riders, like Lesley Clements, compete in the Pro Elite category and are guaranteed spots right up until the day of the event.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “I don’t know anybody who got in. On New Year’s Day it’s the last thing on your mind, and if you weren’t on the ball this year you ended up on the waitlist.”
For riders in the age categories it was first come, first served — even for Under 15 provincial and national champion Tyler Allison, and his father Bob Allison.
“We were online right at 6, but the registration page wouldn’t load so we kept trying and trying,” said Tyler. “We didn’t make it, and we’re on the waiting list right now. I’m pretty sure we’ll get in because we got on it at about 6:55 p.m. so we’re probably not too far back.
“I’ll train for it anyway and hope I make it in. It would suck if I trained for it and didn’t get to race.”