Part of the 2010 “Hell of a Series” that includes the popular Test of Metal event, the Gear Jammer is a 52K (32-mile) point-to-point race that takes riders up and full-tilt down some of the premier XC singletrack in Squamish (which already happens to be one of the greatest areas to ride in the Pacific Northwest).
Here’s what it felt like.
It was HOT.
It was rather late in the morning (11 am) when the huge peloton of mountain bikers rolled out from the start at Alice Lake Provincial Park. That meant the summer sun was high and blazing long before the leaders of the 322-rider convoy reached the finish line hours later at Squamish’s Rose Park. It was the kind of hot day where strangers at aid stations instinctively poured cold water down the back of random riders’ necks as they rolled by. And I happened to be one of those lucky riders. (Thank you.)
As my body remembers it, the trails were speed-bump, spine-jarring rough—and dry as any Sunday in a Midwestern town. The bumpy, technical terrain gave a certain advantage to full suspension bikes (the easy majority in the field), but my nimble Axis was more than able to rally down and get up and over all the gnarly roots, rocks, slickrock and bridges comprising the course.
I have to say, Gear Jammer is a good name for this race. The boulder-strewn, technical XC course was certainly hard on gear. It punched holes in tires, broke chains and roughed up more than a few riders. I was lucky to get away with just dropping my chain (multiple times) and getting my fair share of chain suck. At least the worst of it didn’t plague me until the final miles of the race.
I still came in a solid 12th out of approximately 60 women, finishing near the top third of all riders in a strong field of mainly Squamish, Whistler and North Shore talent. Brandi Heisterma of Brackendale (District of Squamish) finished first among the women, and it was a rider from Washington State—Logan Wetzel of Bellingham—who took top place in the men’s elite.
There were so many trails that the well-marked course incorporated, most of them remain a blur in my memory. But some of the more memorable (and memorably-named) ones were Tracks from Hell, Recycle and Psuedo Tsuga. These were the same amazing trails that I had ridden just a few weeks before on Day 6 of the BC Bike Race 8-day stage race. In fact, the thrills of Squamish Day 6 were the determining factor in me signing up for the Gear Jammer. Once bitten…so the saying goes. I wasn’t about to pass up another chance to rally down these fine trails.
Here’s one favorite that you won’t want to miss: the Powerhouse Plunge, a technical XC downhill chock-full of boulders and roots that require non-stop, split-second decision-making. Riding trails like this one will make you a better, faster, stronger rider. I loved every second.
Next stop: Bend, Oregon.
See you on the trails!