Sunday, May 25, 2014

Trans-Sylvania Epic 2014, Day 1 review

It's been a long time. I shouldn't have left you. As Eric B would say. 2014 and here i sit broken hearted. Tried to .......woops wrong saying.

I find myself at the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic for the third time. It's all new and improved but i am two years older. Some things changed. Some didn't. I still like to race. I still like to ride, even though I tried to walk away from it for a bit. Racing gets in your blood like a bad virus you don't want. There have been times that i didn't want it, but around it comes and here i am in the middle of Pennsylvania, in a camper, with my wife, my tired legs, a belly full of food and nervous energy about the next 6 days. The new to me change is this thing called Enduro. It's like a race within a race in which your down hill segments are timed and the rider with the lowest overall time is crowned the Enduro champion. I'm older and don't want to keep up with the fast kids so much but i do have a slight fascination with the down hill. I'm not claiming to be the best downhiller but i will claim that i can hold my own.
As is typical format for this 7 day adventure, today was a 15ish mile time trial but it had 1 Enduro segment. Strategy was a big discussion among the competitors because in order to have your Enduro time tracked you have to stop and "clock in" at the top of the downhill and then stop and "clock out" at the end of the Enduro segment. A quick stop in the woods may seem like no big deal however when you are racing against 50 other guys who finish a 15 mile race with a time range of 10 minutes from first place to last place those seconds you took to stop eventually add up over 7 days of racing. The super fit super fast guys will most likely not stop to 'clock in/clock out" so that removes about 20% of the pack. The guys slower than me (not too many) will be near the back of the pack and i will come in around the middle (just like results of my lack of winter training). So with some of the people eliminated as my competition, i decided to try my best on the Enduro. The actual "Enduro" section of the trail was familiar from the prior 2 times i have participated in this race with one difference, it was in the opposite direction of what i was used to. I did remember this section of the course because it is a beautiful section of the forest that is covered in ferns. All you can see is shoulders and heads bobbing above the ferns. It is a fine specimen of Central Pennsylvania forest. Well, i did also remember that the uphill was significant and that in turn would make the downhill of the reversed course fabulous. The Enduro section was probably at about mile 12 so by the time it arrived, i was eager to go down hill instead of climbing. There were beautiful rocks to launch off of, chitter chatter rocks moving under my tires as i dropped the trail and green ferns everywhere. It was almost like Star Wars and the Ewoks flying through that crazy green lush Redwood looking forest. Anyway, it was a welcome respite to the difficult grind of the uphill single track and it put a big smile on my face.

I finished the course. Cleaned up and returned to the race venue for dinner and the evening awards. Results were posted but i didn't jump up to check my placing. I felt like i had a solid run but the competition here is tough so i somewhat discounted being near the top. Finally the group around the results list thinned and i checked my times. Mid pack in the 40+ class but 4th in the overall men's Enduro! I am psyched! One spot off the podium and just three people ahead of me Time to step it up with my hard tail 29'er and ride like i know how. It's on!

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