By Josh Patterson
This spring I had the privilege of pre-riding what will be the final stage of this year’s Trans-Sylvania Epic course. TSE promoters Mike Kuhn and Ray Adams led us out of the Seven Mountains Boy Scout Campground—which will be our home the weeklong event and where five of the seven stages will start and finish—and into the rock and root infested trails that surround State College, PA.
We did a bit of trail work, but mostly rode and talked about what was in store for us come May 29. If the final stage was any indication of the event as a whole, I’ll be glad to be riding a full suspension rig with 29-inch wheels.
On the left is LFG (local fast girl) Vicki Barclay. This will be her first attempt at the TSE, though she’s no stranger to endurance racing. Barclay is a consistent podium finisher in the NUE series. She will be one of our TSE correspondents.
In it’s second year the TSE is already attracting big names, including world champion endurance racer Rebecca Rusch, Mark Weir, Kona rider and B.C. Bike Race winner Barry Wicks and many others.
One of the reasons for the rise in popularity of stage racing is that these events are much more than a race. In fact, the racing aspect of it is comes second for many participants. These events are as much a weeklong mountain bike vacation as they are a competitive event, and while the cost of entry is not cheap, it is certainly comparable to what one would spend on similar a vacation.
In addition to seven days of epic singletrack we’ll also have the chance to rub elbows and drink beers with some of the biggest names in mountain biking. So while we may not be able to hang with the pros, we can certainly learn from them, and probably out drink them—with the possible exception of Mark Weir.
Bicycle Times Editor Karen Brooks and I will be "racing" the event. I can’t put enough emphasis on how big those quotation marks need to be, as neither of us have done any structured training.
We may not emerge unscathed but, Mike Kuhn assures us we have a greater than 50 percent chance of survival.
So we’ll be there, attempting to hold on for dear life. In the event that either or both of us don’t survive, readers can still stay up-to-date by checking out the blogs of our TSE correspondents. With less than a month to go we asked each of them their thoughts leading up to this year’s race.
Meet our TSE correspondents:
More from TSE: Read all our racers’ exclusive dispatches from the race.