Dirt Rag Magazine

Racing underway at the 2013 Trans-Sylvania Epic

Day 1

The fourth edition of the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic presented by Dirt Rag began today with picturesque weather and ideal trail conditions. The riders raced through the 14-mile NoTubes Individual Time Trial in Bald Eagle State Forest in sunny, 60-degree temperatures and dry, tacky trails. The course took riders through a variety of terrain, from gravel roads, to rocky descents and freshly cut, serpentine trails.

With three-time champion Jeremiah Bishop deciding not to race this year, the Open Men’s field became an even tougher race as riders fought for the previously dominated top podium spot. Commenting on the talent in the 2013 field, Justine Lindine (Redline, above) stated that he was competing against “Six or seven guys who are pretty tightly matched.”

Though he acknowledges the threat many riders pose, Lindine was able to secure his lead in the Time Trial with a confident and impressive 1:00:19, putting him over one minute ahead of runner-up Brain Matter (ProGold) in the standings and securing the NoTubes Leader Jersey provided by Pactimo.

Lindine hopes to build on his lead through the remaining stages despite his history of misfortune at the TSE in recent years. On his past mechanical issues, Lindine commented, “I think last year I spent eight miles riding a flat tire just to make it to the aid station. Knock on wood, I’d like to avoid that kind of calamity this year.”

Local Aaron Snyder (TSEpic Team, above) also showed a strong performance as he overtook Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt) with only two miles left in the course. Snyder’s aggressive ride placed him in third, only three minutes behind leader Justin Lindine.

In the Open Women’s field, the racers faced the formidable and dominating presence of the Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite team, which secured the top three podium positions for the day. Amanda Carey (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team, above) won first place with her 1:12:29 ride while Sarah Kaufmann (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team) and Vicki Barclay (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team) took second and third, respectively. Kaufmann and Barclay showed very comparable form, separated by a mere 16 seconds in the standings.

Favored rider Sue Haywood broke her saddle during the race and lost just short of eight minutes to leader Carey, resulting in a fifth place finish. Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon) experienced a similarly difficult day and would later describe her sixth place finish as a “rough stage.”

Despite more than 1,400 feet of elevation gain in the stage, the top three finishers in the Singlespeed class finished within two minutes of the race leader. Dax Massey (Breck Epic/Honey Stinger/Light and Motion, above) finished first with a time of 1:09:21. But Massey’s finish hardly gives him a large time cushion, as runner-up Matt Ferrari (FreezeThaw/Hubcap Cycles) placed second with only a nine second deficit. Dejay Birtch (Ride for Reading/Stan’s/Maxxis/Pivot) clocked a time of 1:11:21 to secure third place. With today’s close time gaps, the Singlespeed category is sure to be extremely competitive in the coming stages.

The last of the Duo Men’s teams out of the start, Mike Festa and Craig Lebair (Philadelphia Ciclismo) fought hard for their sub-1:12:40 finish time. But despite passing four of their competing teams during the time trial, they did not have enough speed to beat first place finishers Jon Firth and Drew Simson (TransRockies/Honeystinger/Planet Foods, above).

Firth and Simson finished almost three minutes ahead of the Philadelphia Ciclismo duo, and almost nine minutes ahead of third place finishers Matt Johnson and Anthony Sanson (Racing for Riley/Summit City Bikes).

In the Duo Coed race, Lawrence Plug and Kaarin Tae (Java Blend) finished in first place, only a minute and a half ahead of Chris Merriam and Libbey Sheldon (Crosshairs Cycling).

With an 8th place finish in the Open Men’s category, 21 year-old Madison Matthews (The Bicycle Shop/MBR/Maxxis, above) finished in an impressive 1:07:00 to take the BMC U25 leader’s jersey. Only three minutes behind, Cory Rimmer (Piney Flats Bicycles/Dean Endurance) took the second place finish, while Logan Taylor (Kelpius Cycling & Logan Taylor) finished third.

The woman’s BMC U25 leader’s jersey was awarded to Donna Miller (TSEpic Team).

The closest race of the day goes to the Masters 40+ field, where the top three finishers were separated by only 21 seconds. Chris Cyr (Bikeman.com) took first place by a mere three seconds over Nathan Ruch (Evolution). Alex Hawkins crossed the line in third, finishing in 1:12:26.

In the Masters 50+ race, local rider Jim Matthews finished first with a time of 1:12:15. John Williams finished five minutes behind to take the second podium spot, and Jack Dalzell (Team CF-Ohio) rounded out the third podium position.

Unique to the Trans-Sylvania Epic, the Epic Team category enables riders to construct teams of two to five riders to focus on fun and camaraderie while competing in a GC event. While any and all team members may start any combination of stages, the Epic Team category requires at just one team member to finish a stage each day to compete in the GC competition. In the Epic Team category, Cycle-Smart finished first in the day with the winning time posted by Alec Donahue and supported by David Thompson.

In the Enduro competition wherein a daily leader’s jersey is awarded based on timed downhill segments, the SRAM/Bear Creek men’s leader’s jersey was awarded to Zachary Adams (Toasted Head Racing, above), while the women’s leader jersey went to Rhonda Pearce. Due to minor, and now corrected, complications with the scoring process, all riders will enter Stage 2 tied in standings for the Enduro competition.

Day 2

Open Men

Two years of frustrating stages and mechanical disasters were put behind him as Justine Lindine, Redline’s cyclocross star, pictured above, established his dominance in the 2013 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic.

A neutral roll-out to the start line gave little indication of the aggression to come as riders enjoyed the comfortable temps and beautiful, bright sunshine at the start of the Answer Products Coopers Gap stage of this year’s Trans-Sylvania Epic. The mass start at the bottom of the Stillhouse climb left nothing to the imagination as Sam Koerber (ProGold) announced he was here to contend for the overall victory with an early attempt to open a gap on the contenders.

A strong group, consisting of Brian Matter (RACC/Trek/ProGold, above), Aaron Snyder (TSEpic.com/NoTubes), Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt), Phil Grove (Hammer Nutrition), Michael Wissel (B2C2/Boloco), Koerber and Lindine, came together on the run into the rock strewn, single-track, benchcut climb on No-Name Trail where the group splintered apart.

Koerber continued his aggression and showed his prowess on the technical ridgetop of Chicken Peter Trail, arriving in the first checkpoint with a one-minute lead on Matter, Lindine, and Edsall, while Snyder trailed by another minute.

The long single-track climb of Peep and the day’s first SRAM/Bear Creek Enduro Segment on PigPile Trail—an opportunity for fast descenders to take home a leader’s jersey all their own—allowed Lindine and Matter to rejoin Koerber at the front. This reunion may have been aided by a bobble on the part of Koerber, one that resulted in not only lost time, but the loss of a nice chunk of his front tooth. In the rocking and rolling sweet smooth lines of the Sassy Spur and Sassy-xx trails, the trio increased their lead to more than five minutes over the Edsall and Snyder pair.

Koerber, battered from his earlier encounter with Pennsylvania’s rocks, but by no means beaten, used his technical skills honed from thousands of hours in the trails of Pisgah to push through the battle. Matter was the first to leave the fight as a flat tire took him away from the lead group and at the stage victory. Lindine was not dislodged on this second SRAM/Bear Creek enduro run and took control of the race.

Koerber faced his demise on the stiff gravel climb of Crowfield Road rising from Penn Roosevelt State Park as Lindine steadily opened a gap on his closest pursuer and continued building his lead through a final, fern-enshrouded double-track to the finish line. On his defeat, Koerber noted, “It’s going to be a battle; I’m not one to give up. I’m going to make it hurt every day. I’m going to make [Justin Lindine] work for it.” Matter crossed third having ceded several minutes from his flat to the two riders in front. TSEpic Team’s Snyder rolled through in fourth, pulling ever so gradually farther away from Edsall over the final ten miles of the day.

Lindine will again don the yellow Pactimo Leaders Jersey on tomorrow’s stage and holds a 6:51 lead over Koerber. Matter sits in third at 9:39, with Snyder and Edsall at 16:36 and 18:31, respectively.

Open Women

The Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite team continued their domination of the Open Women’s category today during of the Transylvania Epic’s second stage, presented by Answer products.

During the initial two-mile neutral start, the Stan’s NoTubes women stuck together to ensure a strong position to begin the stage. According to Amanda Carey (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team, above), the end of the neutral start marked the moment where “the gloves came off” and the teammates became competitors in the 36-mile stage.

Coming into the first section of single-track, Vicki Barclay (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team, above) used her local knowledge of the trails to get a slight edge over teammate Amanda Carey. However, Barclay would yield her position to Carey towards the top of the first large climb as Carey showed her strength in the rock-strewn hills.

After Carey developed a small lead, Sue Haywood (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team) came “screaming” up to Carey’s wheel. Haywood attributed her aggressive ride to the “long sections of single-track” that allowed her to keep pace with Carey for most of the day. Sarah Kaufmann (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team) rode hard to try to catch her teammates, but would continue to yield time to the leaders throughout the race. For the first half of the course, Haywood and Carey were inseparable, with each teammate trading off the lead through various sections. Coming into Checkpoint 1 for the second time, the two teammates were separated by only ten seconds. That gap widened as Haywood flatted during the second enduro segment, losing about two minutes to her teammate.

But Haywood’s close battle with Carey would soon dissolve as the two exited the dense, jagged rocks of the Cooper’s Gap single-track and entered the green canopied roads that dominated the second-half of the course to the finish line. Whereas Haywood excels on technical single-track, Carey finds more advantages on long, dirt roads. “I don’t want it to be my thing, but it’s kind of my thing,” Carey explains, “I can just shut off my brain, turn on my legs, and just power away.” And power away she did; Carey’s first place finish put time into her lead over Haywood in the final quarter of the course. Sarah Kaufmann followed a few minutes behind Haywood for her third place finish.

In the General Classification, the top three podium spots went unchanged. Amanda Carey remained in the Stan’s NoTubes leader’s jersey while teammates Sarah Kaufmann and Vicki Barclay retained second and third, respectively. Sue Haywood’s strong ride in Stage 2 was enough to take over the fourth place standing and move Andrea Wilson (Brickhouse Racing) to fifth place. When asked about her plan for moving up further in the standings, Haywood admitted, “Amanda [Carey] is going to be pretty tough to beat. She’s on her A-game.” But Carey expressed her own cautions about the week-long race; “This stuff isn’t easy for anybody.”

Duo Men

The Duo Men category mostly held onto the status quo after Stage 2, with Drew Simson and Jon Firth (TransRockies/HoneyStinger/Planet Foods, above) expanding on their first place lead in GC with a first place finish. Mike Festa and Craig Lebair (Philadelphia Ciclismo) fought hard to chase down Simson and Firth, but ceded thirteen minutes to the leading team with their second place finish. Third place team Anthony Sanson and Matt Johnson (Racing for Riley/Summit City Bikes) held onto their third place GC placing, but sit only a scant eleven minutes ahead of fourth place GC team Catamount/1K2GO, comprised of Matt Salter and Don Harmeyer.

Duo Coed

No major changes occurred in the Duo Coed GC today, as Kaarin Tae and Lawrence Plug (Java Blend) continued their early winning streak in the category. Chris Merriam and Libbey Sheldon (Crosshairs Cycling) held on to second place, but leads third place team Sean Riley and Elizabeth Shaner (Griggs Orthopedics) by only three minutes.

Masters 40+

In the Masters 40+ Category Nate Ruch (Evolution) won in a bike throw over Alex Dawkins in a mad dash to the line. Ruch maintained his slight lead in the GC while Dawkins, a former winner of the Masters 40+ competition, is making this the closest GC battle in the event. Former category leader Chris Cyr (Bikeman.com) fell to the rear of the field but salvaged his opportunity to finish the event via a neutral BMC from the checkpoint. BMC’s support of the event allows riders with these sorts of mechanical failures to officially finish the race and the Trans-Sylvania Epic is perhaps the only mountain bike stage race to offer this service. While likely out of the GC competition Cyr will likely challenge for stage wins in days to come.

Masters 50+

In the Masters 50+ competition, Jim Matthews continued his domination of the field with a 3:41:27 finish. The strong finish time was more than enough to secure the lead in GC. John Williams repeated a second place finish. Joe McCarthy’s third place finish was fast enough to move him up to third in the overall standings, ahead of Jack Dalzell (Team CF-Ohio).

U25

Tennessee’s Cory Rimmer (Piney Flats/Dean Endurance) took over the BMC U25 Men leader’s jersey with a win in the stage. Competitor Madison Matthews (The Bicycle Shop/MBR/Maxxis) suffered multiple mechanicals and dropped away from the top of the leader board. Gunnar Bergey (Cannondale/Champion Systems) took second on the stage and sits four minutes behind in second on the U25 GC. Besides chasing the U25 jersey, Bergey is keeping his squad in the Epic Team GC hunt. Toasted Head’s Zach Adams moved into third on GC after finishing third on the stage.

In the BMC U25 Women’s category, a major mechanical forced race leader, Donna Miller (TSEpic.com/NoTubes) to also take a neutral BMC from the checkpoint. As the sole competitor in this competition all she must do is finish out the event to win the free entry to the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic awarded to the U25 GC champions.

Singlespeed

After Sunday’s time trial, Dax Massey (Breck Epic/Honey Stinger/Light and Motion) led the Singlespeed class by a mere nine seconds over local rider Matt Ferrari (FreezeThaw/Hubcap Cycles).

With tight margins separating most of the Singlespeed field, Monday’s stage had the potential to cause great shifts in the overall standings. As the riders reached the first section of single-track, Ferrari charged ahead of his competitors to ensure he entered No Name—a steep, rocky chute typically ridden as a descent—first to begin the long, grueling climb. “I figured that if I was going to try to get the [leader’s] jersey, today was the only day I could do it,” remarked Ferrari. From that decisive moment, Ferrari would continue to expand his lead over his competitors and take first place for the day.

Behind Ferrari’s dominating win, Stage 1 winner, Dax Massey, was forced to spend much of his day chasing down Dejay Birtch (Ride for Reading/Stan’s NoTubes/Maxxis/Pivot) and Rich Dillen (Faster Mustache), who passed the jersey holder when he took a wrong turn into a section of single-track. Though Massey was able to move up to second place by the halfway point, he would trail race leader Ferrari by approximately four minutes for most of the race. In the final miles, Massey yielded an additional two minutes to Ferrari, but was able to maintain his position for a second place finish. Rich Dillen followed in third.

Ferrari’s early attack earned him more than enough time on GC to surpass Massey in standings and develop a strong time buffer entering the third stage. Rich Dillen’s impressive ride also shifted the standings as he moved from fifth to third overall in the GC competition. Looking forward, Ferrari believes Stage 4—Galbraith Enduro presented by SRAM and Bear Creek—to be the larger challenge in retaining his lead on the Singlespeed class. “Even though I know the trails, you should never get cocky on the rocks,” Ferrari cautioned.

Enduro

Riders were treated to two opportunities to compete for the SRAM/Bear Creek Enduro jersey during today’s stage. Going into the day, Zach Adams, above, sought to retain his hold on the jersey, but strong attacks from his competition in the U25 field would wear him down right before the first enduro segment and weaken his attempt. Allowing a bit of rest later in the stage, Zach rebounded and worked hard to make up the deficit on the second segment. However, Zach’s early loss would push him down to seventh place in the overall enduro competition.

The top honors for the day went to Brian Matt (RACC/TREK/PROGOLD), with Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt) coming in second and Marc Basilliere (Bikerumor.com) in third. In the women’s competition, Andrea Wilson (Brickhouse Racing) bested the strong women’s field to take the leader’s jersey. Sue Haywood backed off of her strong ride to capture second in the competition, while Jordan Salman (Pisgah Tavern) placed third. Stage 3 will offer the riders an additional two enduro segments to push their limits and fight for the SRAM/Bear Creek Enduro leader’s jersey.

Tuesday

Tuesday’s stage, the Dirt Rag/ProGold Coburn Stage, is a mainstay of the Trans-Sylvania Epic and has traditionally altered the racer’s focus from technical single-track skill to tactical acumen with a more open course that encourages group racing tactics. However, a reversal of the classic routing takes what were formerly leg searing rocky climbs and transformed them into blazing fast, gnarly descents that offer an entirely different look to the stage. 

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