Trans-Sylvania Epic rocks and rolls with an eye to the future

Local State College pro Aaron Snyder (Scott Pro Team) used his trail knowledge to help search out leaf-hidden trails during our two-day media camp. He finished fourth overall at TSE in 2012.

By Mike Cushionbury, photos by A.E. Landes.

Coming into its fourth year, the top mountain bike stage race in the contiguous United States has big plans not only for 2013’s edition but also for its fifth anniversary in 2014.

Race promoters Mile Kuhn and Ray Adams have continued to draw not only the best North American professionals—which have included three-time winner Jeremiah Bishop, Tim Johnson, Jason Sager, Alex Grant, Rebecca Rusch, Sue Haywood, Barry Wicks, Mark Weir, Ben Cruz, Cheryl Sornson, and Amanda Carry—but also a full field of satisfied amateur racers. Year four looks to expand that appeal to even more riders with some small yet significant changes.

Most notable is that the Raystown Lake stage will be replaced with a true enduro format day held along the famous Tussey Ridge area where times will be recorded purely on the downhill sections, though riders will have to pedal to each section within a specified cutoff period. Riders will be scored in line with such events as Trans-Provence in France.

One of the open, high speed sections under consideration for the enduro stage of the Trans-Sylvania Epic.

Last week members of the media were treated to a preview of seven sections under consideration for the enduro with names like Greenshoot, Shingletown, Croyle, Wildcat, and Carcass. While most contained the usual East Coast brand of steep, rocky chutes a few also featured long and smooth high-speed sections that will test a rider’s ability to stay off the brakes until the last second. Expect about five of the seven to make the final selection for the race.

Beyond the enduro-specific stage there may also be an overall enduro jersey up for grabs with timed downhill sections scored every day all week for the category title. According to Kuhn, if the logistics are worked out, the new enduro class at TSE could be more hotly contested than the overall GC title.

Other changes Kuhn has promised are new singletrack additions across the board that will replace pavement and fire road in nearly every stage, including the already brutal Stage 2 at Rothrock Copper’s Gap. Another big change is the backwards running of Stage 3 at Bald Eagle Coburn. This means riders will negotiate the super technical Fisherman’s Path off the start and then rally down a full throttle fire road descent towards the final pavement sections.

With TSE’s year five anniversary approaching, Kuhn is tight lipped about that he has on tap for 2014 but during our media camp I did sit in on a planning meeting with city officials. A main street Stage 1 rollout in Stage College, a downtown dirt crit, and maybe even fireworks to coincide with a possible calendar change for the race are all under consideration.

Trans-Sylvania Epic is a seven-day mountain bike stage race held May 26 to June 1 based at the Seven Mountains Scout Camp in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania, less than 30 minutes from State College, home of Penn State University. For more info and to register visit



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