The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic presented by Dirt Rag is now offering a three-day stage race alternative called TS3 during the Epic targeted towards racers who can’t be away for an entire week. TS3 racers get the same benefits as the 7-day Epic competitors (since they will be riding the same courses) including fully stocked aid stations, mechanical supplies at each checkpoint, a daily quick bike check by Freeze Thaw Cycles from State College, back up mechanical assistance from SRAM and BMC’s neutral support bikes available at each checkpoint.
TS3 also includes special prizes from event partners tossed in at random through the weekend. Overall TS3 GC and enduro awards include $10,000 in prizes. TS3 will start on Sunday, May 25 and finish Tuesday, May 27 (the first three days of the 7-day race.)
TS3 racers will mass start separately on Sunday and instead of racing the classic ITT they will do two cross-country style laps on the time trial course. The next two days will be the Coopers Gap epic stage followed by the Galbraith Enduro on Tuesday to decide final TS3 GC.
We sat down with Trans-Sylvania Epic promoter Mike Kuhn as asked him a few questions about the new event.
Dirt Rag: What’s the idea behind TS3? It’s a real race not just an experience correct?
Mike Kuhn: We’ve had a lot of people tell us, “TSEpic looks awesome, but I can’t take the week away from home, work, school and/or family. I wish you had a shorter version I could do.” Now we do in the form of TS3. I can’t say that we can pack as much incredible trail, fun and camaraderie into those three days as we do the week long version, because, you know, there are four more days of awesome riding and CampTSEpic goodness in the long one, but it is going to be a really fantastic three days.
It is a real race, absolutely. It is open to 125 participants this year and we’ll award daily stage prizes in men’s and women’s categories. We’ll also track the GC in men’s, women’s SS, 45+ and U19. The U19 category extends our commitment to featuring young riders at this event.
TS3 is also a great way to test the waters for a run at the 7-day TSEpic or another stage race and get a sample of Singletrack Summer Camp here. Not only is the riding great, but also the camp set up and close knit community of really good racers and people who make the trip to central Pennsylvania for the event is very unique.
DR: According to the plan, 3-day racers do two laps of the TT course on day 1. Do they have a separate start time or is it TT format?
MK: The first stage of the event (which is the Bald Eagle ITT course for TSEpic) is a mass start two-lap race for TS3 participants. It is a challenging course and throws a little bit of everything at you. The singletrack has fast and flowing elements, rocky technical features and tight twisty bits, we sprinkle in a bit of gravel road and there are a couple miles of pavement where riders will experience some of the tactical racing that the Epic racers do on the Coburn stage later in the week. There is a fantastic descent in the middle that is also a timed run in the enduro competition and TS3 participants will hit that segment twice in their race. Then there is the moto track and enduro-cross course in the middle of things. This course really is a smorgasbord of everything else the riders encounter through the week.
DR: Who are you attempting to attract with the 3-day compared to the 7-day?
MK: Everyone! It took a couple years for us to lock down the 7-day and build it to where it is, but the idea of a 3-day option for anyone who just can’t get away for the week has always been in the back of our minds. Of course, we’ve always offered the Epic Team option – which is really good way to do the 7-day version without the commitment to be there every day, but there are a lot of people who still need something even more compact.
TS3 is also great for the person who has already done TSEpic and knows how much fun it is and wants to get back but can’t make the weeklong commitment.
The stages shouldn’t be underestimated, this isn’t really for a beginner Actually, being part of an Epic Team may be a better way for a less experienced rider to take part since a person can take days off and pick and choose the courses they’re most comfortable riding in that category.
DR: How does this compare to the “TSE Experience?”
MK: The Experience Category of the 7-day is a great way for someone to test out TSEpic since you’re given an extra hour or more on the course each day to finish the stage. We set up for the riders who might want to enjoy the weeklong version more as a riding vacation than a race. You can come to central PA and get to ride all these fantastic trails through the Rothrock and Bald Eagle forests, which are marked out for you so that you get all the best bits and we offer up well-stocked checkpoints to help you on your way. You get the Camp TSEpic fun and we can take care of the food for you, transport your bike and even hook you up with a place to stay. You start a little earlier in the morning and we might eliminate a portion of a stage here or there for the TSEpic Experience rider (we make sure to keep the best sections for you) because it allows someone to ride at a more relaxed pace and still make the time cuts and end up with official finishers awards – which are always unique and cool. The TSE Experience option is a way to make the week into more of a fully supported weeklong mountain bike vacation than a race outing.
I know for me, if I were doing the 7-day, it would be as part of an Epic Team or in the Experience category. I don’t ride and race or train like I once did, but I love going out for long rides on incredible trails and hanging out with old and new friends who love mountain biking as much as I do. With these unique options we offer I could get both of those aspects in the week without worrying about trying to hang in the main race.
There is no “TS3 Experience” option at this time – the 3-day is more focused on those who want to twist the throttle a bit more.
DR: Are there awards on Tuesday night for the 3-day event?
MK: There are definitely awards on Tuesday night. We’ll cook up a little fun to wrap up TS3 and hand out both GC and stage awards. We end the 3-day with the enduro-focused stage and that could certainly shake up the daily and maybe the GC podiums. Our philosophy is that a stage race should present opportunities for people with different skill sets to have a chance to shine and to not just be predictable mass start races every day. In particular, the enduro day from Tussey Mountain (in the Epic) and the enduro GC are designed to potentially give different riders than those at the front of the cross-county a chance to take home some hardware. If you follow any road stage events this is sort of akin to the sprinters jersey in a major tour – a race within the race for a different person to excel.
DR: Can 3-day racers stay the week and enjoy the scene after their event is done?
MK: Absolutely! Anyone can register for food and lodging for the week and if that appeals to someone just get in touch with us directly and we’ll help you through the registration tweaks you’ll need to make. That could be a great way for someone to do a little racing and then help out a friend or family member doing the 7-day. There are certainly some opportunities to volunteer to help out everyone and that comes with a few perks for the volunteers as well – again, race three days and then help and hang out the rest.
Registration is now open for all TS3 classes at $249 until March 15 and $299 from March 16 through May 5 (not including lodging and meals.) Go to outdoorexperience.org/tse for more information.