Recap: A great week in Trans-Sylvania


The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race presented by Dirt Rag Magazine held near State College, Pennsylvania, from May 24 to May 31, 2014, proved a huge success among racers from near and far.

After seven days of world-class racing through central Pennsylvania’s lush, green forests on dirt roads and pristine singletrack, NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike racers were all smiles as they left behind new and old friends and departed the Seven Mountains Scout Camp which had served as headquarters all week.


“This is the most competitive mountain bike stage race in America, just by virtue of the number of top riders, the speeds and the tactical elements that have played out. The race has a fantastic variety of the stages and summer camp-like atmosphere around race headquarters,” said men’s race winner Jeremiah Bishop, leading the way above, (Sho-Air/Cannondale). “It has a lot of the mountain bike culture I grew up racing with on the East Coast, and it’s something I’m glad I could take part in.”

German Ben Sonntag (Stan’s NoTubes) finished fourth overall in his first appearance at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic and made the podium for two stages. “It was an incredible week. The riding here is amazing!” said Sonntag. “I was kind of shocked by how rough the trails are. It definitely bumps you up on the technical level. I can recommend this race – it was a good week!”

Canadian Kris Sneddon (Kona), who was in third place overall in the men’s race until he unfortunately had to withdraw during the final stage due to a stomach bug, said, “This is one of the more technical stage races I’ve ever done, maybe the most technical. The biking here is as good as anywhere else in the world.”


Olympian Mary McConneloug, above, (Kenda/NoTubes) won the women’s Bear Creek Resort East Coast Rocks classification with her excellent technical riding skills, said that she learned a lot in her first attempt at the race. “It was a tough week with lots of ups and down. There’s been a lot of learning,” said McConneloug. “There’s so much that goes into the right equipment, the right tires, knowing the trails, etc. It’s so difficult. It’s so bony here, but it’s awesome, and I loved it.”

McConneloug, who studied opera before she became a professional athlete, described her experience racing trails she was riding for the first time. “It was like sight reading music. One of my favorite things about mountain biking is picking your line on trails you’ve never ridden, where if you’re off by one inch, you might endo. I’ve done that this week several times!” Despite, the endos, McConneloug pulled off a stage win and finished fourth overall in the women’s race.

As a sign of the tight competition among the top contenders during the seven days of racing, there were four different men’s and four different women’s stage winners.


Furthermore, several top young, up-and-coming riders also proved that they could mix it up among their elders. Under 25 pros Payson McElveen (Richard’s Rainwater) and Cole Oberman (Rare Disease Cycling) proved their talent as stage winners among the elite men while Emily Shields, above, (BMC Project Dirt) mixed up with some of the best elite women.

Congrats to all winners

The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic has many races within the overall race, including categories by age and gender and classifications for various sub-specialties of mountain bike racing like going fast downhill or through especially gnarly, rocky singletrack. New for 2014, some racers competed in the traditional, seven-day TSEpic version of the race while others tried the new three-day TS3 version.

Outdoor Experience, the organizers of the race, would like to recognize the following seven-day TSEpic winners:

  • Men: Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale)
  • Women: Cheryl Sornson (Rare Disease Cycling)
  • BMC Under 25 men: Payson McElveen (Richard’s Rainwater)
  • BMC Under 25 women: Emily Shields (BMC Project Dirt)
  • Singlespeed men: Kurt Gensheimer (Ibis)
  • Masters 40+ men: Nathan Ruch (Pure Energy Scott Elite Team)
  • Masters 50+ men: Jim Matthews (Toasted Head Racing)
  • Duo men: Craig Lebair and Mike Festa (Philadelphia Ciclismo)
  • Duo women: Lisa Le Poole and Kristin Walters (Crave/Terrascape)
  • Duo co-ed: Jessica Nankman and Joel Nankman (Giant Northeast Grassroots)
  • SRAM Pro Best Male Enduro rider: Tristan Uhl (787 Racing)
  • SRAM Pro Best Female Enduro rider: Carolyn Popovic (Rare Disease Cycling)
  • SRAM “BraaapStar” (enduro for everyone else): Cody Phillips (Felt Factory Enduro Team)
  • Bear Creek Resort Best Male East Coast Rocks rider: Cody Phillips (Felt Factory Enduro Team)
  • Bear Creek Resort Best Female East Coast Rocks rider: Mary McConneloug (Kenda/NoTubes)

Outdoor Experience would also like to recognize the following three-day TS3 winners:

  • Men: Barry Wicks (Kona Bikes)
  • Women: Jessica Kutz
  • Under 19 men: Aaron Albright (Swashbuckler Brewing Company)
  • Under 19 women: Ginny Jeppi (20/20 Cycling)
Men 40+: Jonathan Card


Only a handful of racers have participated in all five editions of the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic thus far – that’s 35 stages and almost 1,100 miles of rocky Pennsylvania goodness. These include:

  • Nathan Ruch, above, (five-time finisher)
  • Drew Edsall (five-time finisher)
  • Rich Dillen (five-time finisher)
  • Mike Wissell (five-time participant)
  • Mike Festa (five-time participant)

Fun facts

It takes a small army of people to run a seven-day mountain bike stage race like the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic. And that army has to coordinate not only people but supplies to support them. Below are some fun facts about the 2014 edition of the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic.

At least three BMC Fourstroke mountain bikes from the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic race neutral bike fleet were in use every day. At times, all five BMCs were out on course, ensuring that the riders borrowing them made it through the week by finishing all stages and the overall. The bikes rode so well that three of them have already been claimed by people who used them during the week!


Dracula, his princess, a giraffe and a Sasquatch made appearances during the week. The first “Spectator Spectacular” drew fans making the trip from as far away as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to cheer on the riders.

More than 70 percent of the seven-day racers eligible for finisher prizes completed the 2014 TSEpic. (Does not include Epic Team riders who have the option to pick and choose racing individual stages on behalf of their Epic Team.)

More than 90 percent of the three-day racers completed their event and went home with the finisher prizes from Backcountry Research and Opinel.

Throughout the week, the checkpoint crew washed over 1,400 water bottles to hand up to the racers.

At the checkpoints, racers ravaged the food and beverages supplies, finishing off more than 140 gallons of HEED, over 140 two-liter bottles of Coke, 60 large pizzas after the R.B. Winter stage, a gross of Pringles chips and nearly all of six five-pound bags of Swedish Fish candies.

2015 Race Registration

Stay tuned for more information coming soon on how you can sign up for the 2015 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race!

The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic presented by Dirt Rag Magazine was made possible with the generous support of BMC, Pactimo, Hammer Nutrition, Red Bull, Purple Lizard and Freeze Thaw Cycles.

More coverage

Click here to see all our coverage of the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic.



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