World Tour Report: VisitPA.com Festival and Rassin’ Weekend

This past weekend, Justin and I traveled to Marysville, PA, just north of Harrisburg, for the VisitPA.com Festival and Rassin’ Weekend (formerly known as the Stage Race). It was a great time that lived up to its name.

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The venue was an idyllic wooded farm belonging to race promoter Mike Kuhn’s inlaws, the Oesterlings, that had most of us dreaming of living on a similar spread, sitting out on the deck with a laptop “working,” taking a dip in the pond, hanging out in the barn or the chicken coop that had been converted to a workshop.

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Mike had built an impressive array of trails snaking all through the 99 acres – a map of them would no doubt look like a pile of spaghetti. Riding the race course was an adventure in sudden sharp turns and logs. What better way to check it out, I figured, than to enter Friday night’s Lupine time trial and see it for the first time at night, alone, with a timer and people shouting “Go! Go!” to add to the drama? Fortunately I didn’t break myself or my bike.

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Saturday’s “rassin’ ” action continued with a 12-hour team relay and a 9-hour solo event. Those brave souls who endured that video game-like course for so many laps are the definition of honch. The racing crowd was a diverse mix of everyone from kids on up to retirees, but was heavy on the fast guys and girls, with lots of drama. Mike Kuhn is not only the race promoter, but the director for the dominant VisitPA.com team (including Rob Lichtenwalner and other fast dudes), who battled it out with other pro teams like Bike Line, Bikesport (friends of the Rag from SSWC08 adventures), the up-and-coming juniors of CycleSports/Fast Forward Racing, and “Euro” Aaron Snyder of the Scott East Coast team (recently back from the USA Cycling U23 Development Camp in Germany).

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To keep things from getting too serious, the weekend also included a rockin’ cover band and a couple of kegs of Victory brew on Saturday evening, which led to some nice and relaxed socializing. Sunday the fast folks were at it again in the Short Track XC race, turning some incredible lap times despite having thrashed the course twice already. After that was a highly-entertaining slow downhill race that revealed who’d been practicing their trackstands, and the old-school traditional bike toss.

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All in all, this was a true grass-roots event (and not just because there was a fair amount of grass on the course), one that combined the best parts of mountain bike culture. I was able to interview some of the key players involved for an upcoming feature in Dirt Rag.

By the way, Justin and I stopped by the Tröegs brewery for a tour on our way up on Friday. Why not check out our office beer sponsor, since it was so convenient? Seeing what all those big tanks are for, exactly, was entertaining and instructive (more on that later), and Chris Trogner himself poured us some samples of their work. The fine folks at Tröegs then pointed us in the direction of Appalacian Brewing Co. not far away for some lunch and more brew sampling. Fortunately the farm at Marysville was not far from these adventures, or we might have had to stop for a nap.

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Check out our Gallery for more photos of the Festival.