The annual 67 kilometre Test of Metal mountain bike race has been called one of the best bike races in North America in terms of its size, beauty, community support and technical quality. And if you havent already registered, its probably going to be another year before you find that out for yourself.
With three weeks to go before the Squamish Mountain Bike Festival, the Test of Metal organizers announced on June 1 that the race was sold out in record time for a race that sells out every year.
"The great attraction of the Test of Metal is to the grassroots mountain bike community and recreational riders, who just want to get into better shape or to race against their friends or improve their time from a previous year," says Cliff Miller, the Squamish Mountain Bike Festival and Test of Metal director.
According to Miller, the majority of racers still fall into the recreational category, with only 20 per cent of the field going to licensed racers.
There are still spots available for the shorter Teen Test for ages 9 to 14.
In addition to public support, the festival has also attracted some new supporters. At the mass Test of Metal start at 11 a.m. on June 22, rocker Barney Bentall will sing the national anthem before hopping on his bike to take part in the celebrity challenge. His business partner is the owner of Bean Around the World, one of the festivals major sponsors this year.
Bean Around the World has even produced Test of Metal travel mugs and a Test of Metal blend of coffee, which are available on the North Shore and in Squamish at Eagle Rune Coffee Company. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the festival and the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association.
Other supporters include Marketplace IGA Squamish, Gary Fisher Bicycles, Outdoor Gear Canada, 99 North Visitor Magazine, Sugoi technical apparel, Greg Gardner GM, Corsa Cycles and the Tantalus Bike Shop.
While the Test of Metal is sold out, there is still a lot to do at the festival.
Events get underway on Friday, June 21 in Squamish Town Centre with the Show-and-Shine bike ride, followed by the Inter-Galactic Chariot Races. Starting at 6 p.m., teams with one driver and one pedaler will negotiate an obstacle course trying to stay upright and make the best time.
The Teen Test will take place after the Test of Metal in the same location at Brennan Park Leisure Centre.
On Sunday morning, organizers are hosting a Mini Metal on a short course around the Squamish Station Shopping Centre. Afterwards the action moves to Valleycliffe for the Invitational Freeride Dash for Cash on some extreme terrain.
There is also an instalment of the North American Trials Championship Series at Squamish Town Centre.
For more information, or to volunteer, visit the festival Web site at www.testofmetal.com.