By Sue George. Photos courtesy of the Trans-Sylvania Epic Media Team.
In a race as long and challenging as the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic, the only constant is change. On the signature trail of the stage and of the race, Tussey Ridge, the men’s category was shaken up today by a mechanical and will be tightly contested tomorrow. Meanwhile in the women’s race, local knowledge of the rocky course proved decisive.
Tristan Uhl (Competitive Cyclist) and Vicki Barclay (Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) won the elite men’s and women’s categories in stage 6. Justin Lindine (Competitive Cyclist) took over the elite men’s general classification (GC) lead from his teammate Payson McElveen after McElveen had a major mechanical. Barclay successfully defended and extended her lead in the overall elite women’s classification.
Tristan Uhl (Competitive Cyclist) grabbed his first stage win today, taking some pressure off his teammates during the stage. He and Peter Glassford (Trek Canada) are now separated by only 12 seconds in third and fourth places in the GC.
“I’m super excited to take the win,” said Uhl. “Peter and I have been duking it out for third place in the general classification, and I kind of took advantage of him having a bad spot on one of the run up/ride ups, and pushed it hard on the second enduro segment to get a gap on everyone. I just decided to keep it rolling on the climb, and I expected to have the guys come back to me. But they didn’t, so I kept it rolling relatively smooth.”
The winning effort cost Uhl dearly. “That last road section never ends,” he said. “I lost my Garmin in the East Coast Rocks section, and I didn’t have a clue how much further I had to go. I knew we had to come back along the fence line, but I forgot how hard it was. The last climb almost killed me. I’m probably going to be hurting tomorrow. I think Peter and I are about tied for time, so it’ll make for a fun last stage.”
Glassford has been working alone toward the front of the race all week, and was rewarded for his efforts today. “I had a good stage today. Tristan beat me but I finished in second, which is my best NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic stage finish so far. I didn’t embarrass myself horribly while Justin [Lindine (Competitive Cyclist)] and Payson [McElveen (Competitive Cyclist)] followed me.”
Glassford used some Canadian style to get an edge on the technical Tussey Mountain ridge trail. “Payton got a flat because I threw a crazy corner on Tussey and they weren’t ready for the ‘Ontario wide-cut’. Then, I just drilled it when I got on the road, just buried myself.”
Despite the lonely struggle as he is here racing without teammates, Glassford has kept a good attitude, which should come in handy tomorrow as he makes a play for third place overall.
“The steep climbs get me,” said Glassford. “But it was good racing, it was fun. It’s tough going against three guys out there. It’s pull until I get attacked, and I keep drilling it. But that’s what I like to do!”
McElveen’s flat turned out to be disastrous. “We had Tristan get away, which was great,” he said. “Peter was pulling and Justin and I were sitting on. Then I punctured big time on Tussey Ridge, just a massive tear. We can’t take tires off the rim without basically a car tire lever.”
“Justin was kind enough to stop and help me, and we tried as hard as we could to break the bead but we couldn’t,” said McElveen. “I finally just started to ride the rim, and at the end of Tussey Ridge, the whole wheel exploded, which was predictable. Then I just started running. I have a very large blister on my right foot now. I ran for a long time, it felt like forever.”
McElveen switched out his wheel at the last aid station and chased as hard as he could. “I figured the race is probably over for me now, but you never know. And if I don’t try… well, I might as well try.” McElveen dropped to second place in GC with six minutes over third.
McElveen’s teammate and close competitor Lindine had a relatively uneventful day, always a good thing, and it landed him in the race leader’s jersey.
“It was going really well,” said Lindine. “I like a lot of the trails on this stage, and it’s broken up nicely. We had a super aggressive first 45 minutes and split it into the smaller group of the four of us. Tristan was able to get away on the first enduro section, which was perfect, and Peter got a bit gapped off, so Payson and I sat up. We were like, ‘Sorry, man, this is the job we have to do.’ Peter has spent the most time on the front of anyone in the race.”
When McElveen’s tire blew, Lindine went above and beyond to help his teammate. “We were riding across Tussey when Payson flatted,” he said. “I stopped, we tried to fix it, it wasn’t going well. It’s not ideal. No one wants to take the jersey that way. I know as well as anyone that this race can come down to mechanicals and luck. I don’t know what the clock is going to say, but we’ll see how it plays out.”
Vicki Barclay (Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women), a State College local, was unable to use her usual strategy of hanging out with the guys today, but she got help from Selene Yeager (Rare Disease Cycling) as well as her teammate Mical Dyck (Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women).
“Selene helped me big time in the start,” said Barclay. “I missed the train of lead guys and I was like, ‘What am I going to do? Hammer at three miles in?’ But Selene was so nice. Then Mical caught us so we all worked together on the road. She was tired on the climbs, but I was trying to help her stay in second place. And we were working with the singlespeeders as well!”
Barclay’s lead of 17 minutes seems solid, but she knows better than most that things can go sideways at any moment. “Everything is so dry! You could definitely slide out,” she said. “I had the slight advantage on the ridge because I ride it all the time. Sometimes I can’t clean it, but today I cleaned all the sections.” If you’ve never seen the Tussey Ridge Trail, cleaning it is an amazing feat.
Yeager seems to have raced herself into recovery and was feeling much better than earlier in the week, so she used her mojo to help Barclay along. “Vicki was in front all of the day except for 15 seconds when I pulled her,” she said. “But I knew she would go. I was using her trail knowledge and following her. I could see her for most of the day. I kind of wanted to get her at the end, but I slid out on a bunch of gravel trying to accelerate.”
“I knew I wasn’t going to get her, but this is the best I’ve felt on this day,” said Yeager. “I wasn’t going to make up 20 minutes on Vicki today, so I wanted to help her.”
Under 25 men and women
Payson McElveen nearly got his usual top Under 25 spot nabbed from him by Lewis Gaffney (Colt Training Systems), who came in just 27 seconds later. A new name rounded out the top three Under 25 men, Cameron Dodge, also of Colt Training Systems.
Libby White (Colt Training Systems) continued to build an impressive lead with another win today, with Samantha Runnels (Colt Training Systems) not far behind. Emily Shields (Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) came in a solid third.
See all our coverage from the 2015 Trans-Sylvania Epic here.