Waking Up, or Going Back to Sleep

(Or, ‘Dicky Stole My Title’)

By Karen Brooks

Josh asked for a “look back” kind of post about the Trans-Sylvania Epic, and I’m glad he did – it’s fun and therapeutic to evaluate such an undertaking after a week’s worth of reflection.

It was strange, and grueling at times, that my “job” for the week consisted of riding fast and far, then recovering as best I could, day after day. But I found that I loved it. As someone who has avidly watched Le Tour for years, I got caught up in the drama, the intrigue, the tactical calculations necessary to do well. My goal was simply to finish, but it spiced things up considerably to find myself in a friendly duel for a placing somewhere in the 7th through 10th range. I had to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses compared to my closest competitors, Laura Gleason and Tanya Hanham – Laura was faster on the loose downhills and Tanya had better overall fitness, but I had an edge in the many rock gardens. There was also Kaarin Tae, who played “tourist” after she caught the dreaded stomach virus stalking the peloton, but who would probably have edged me out had she been able to continue. It was especially awesome to be able to mix it up with the pros on occasion, although generally I only saw their dust for a few seconds after each start.

Yet the simplicity of it all was refreshing – just fuel yourself up, ride your ass off, then attend to your bike and try to recover enough to do it again the next day.

The organization of this race was amazing. I can’t say enough about what a great job all around was done by Ray Adams, Mike Kuhn and their extensive army of volunteers. It certainly helped make this an epic adventure with very minimal consequences and a lot of rewards.

Some things I’ll always remember, in no particular order:

  • The many butterflies crossing our paths, particularly on Stage 3 (the “road” stage, which sounded awful but was in fact beautiful)
  • The otherworldly Tussey Ridge Trail, with views dropping off both sides and many dead trees (never did ask what they died from)
  • Beating Rebecca Rusch on one of the Mini-XCs of Stage 5 (even if she did have asthma)
  • The party after Stage 7 – I’ve never seen a group of people get so drunk so fast
  • The pools of standing water and/or very muddy sections on nearly every stage – actually quite refreshing given the extreme heat the first few days
  • My sudden and spectacular endo caused by a pedal strike on a hidden rock (which somehow didn’t result in injury)

In short: do this race if you can!

More from TSE: Read all our racers’ exclusive dispatches from the race.


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