Tuesday, June 3

The 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic: Stages 1-4

Sorry about yesterday.  A stomach virus that spread through camp (it happens) hit me rather hard.  I was incapable of anything that required thought or effort.

So let's get to the Trans-Sylvania Epic (heretofore referred to as the TSEpic). 

Stage One: Individual Time Trial (15-17 miles... dunno)

I'm the last single speeder to go off from the line (of six but then seven... I'll explain later), right behind The Angry.  About ten to fifteen minutes in, I catch The Angry while he is fiddling with his bike.

"You alright?"

"My bike just won't go."

I am perplexed with his dilemma, but not so much that I would stop and help him.  I roll on.  He catches me on a steep chute.  He with his fjork and drooper, I am no match.  I yield to his prowess and mechanical superiority.  The trail goes back up, and I get back by him.  The course goes all Enduro™, and he flies by me like a bag of rocks being tossed into a ravine.  I can't see him anymore.

The pro men, who started a decent amount of time behind me, start coming around.  I keep it pinned... relatively.  Through the winding sections of trail above camp, I see The Angry through the woods.  No way to know if he has gotten his thirty second head start back, but I'm pretty sure he has.  Damn.

In the end, I wind up in fourth place, behind Matt Ferrari (duh), John Merriam (who promised me he only had a good fifteen miles in his legs), and The Angry.  A single speeder who did not make the Cycling News article (that they never published) showed up on the final results four minutes behind me. 

"Who is this Scott Smith?"

I'd find out soon enough.

Stage Two:  Cooper's Gap (42 miles)

I'm told they're running most of the course backwards from previous years.  This means little to me, as I'm normally lost all week long, entirely dependent on arrows to get me everywhere except the bathroom.  From the start, I feel like the field is leaving my behind, the lack of recovery from last week's Pisgah 111/55.5K becoming more apparent.  The descents seem way more gnarly in this direction.  I have to actually stop and shake my hands out... something I haven't had to do since 26" wheels stopped being relevant.  I'm becoming more and more convinced that this is my last TSEpic.  I decide somewhere out on the course that the Fjox fjork I stowed away in the back of the Honda Fit of Rage will be mounted at the end of the day.

I come around John "I've only got fifteen good miles in me" Merriam at the first aid station.  Happy to be in third, I was able to slightly turn my frown upside down and keep it relatively pegged to the finish.  A podium appearance in my last TSEpic and a promise to Gordon Wadsworth kept.

photo cred: Chris Merriam
Who wears short shorts?  I do, upon the request of Quadsworth.

Stage Three: Galbraith Gap Enduro™

The night before, this happens:

photo cred: The Angry
With my decision to enjoy my final TSEpic as much as possible, the fjork was mounted along with the Thomson drooper.  The timing, late but close to perfect.  I'd be drooping and squishing at the Enduro™.

I spend the better part of the day with The Angry.  Matt Ferrari is in a hurry to knock out the five timed stages so he can get back to making another PHD or something, so we slum together.  With the help of the fjork, I'm ripping up trail, not worried in the least about flatting my front tire like last year.  I have some confidence that I might make the podium... an easier task after the previous day took out both John Merriam (sick) and Eric McKeegan (sick of racing).  I have the tools, I have the talent, I have the pizza at the aid station (thanks Don Breon II!).

photo cred: Don Breon II
All the Enduro™

In the end, I did not meet the not-so-lofty goals I had established.  The Angry crushed it with his little wheels, the stranger (Scott Smith) took second place besting me by ten seconds, and Matt Ferrari used his local knowledge and tiny 100mm fork to flick me off the podium by seven seconds.

Stage Four: Coburn (43 miles)

Famous for two reasons in my mind.  The roadie stage and the only stage I ever won.  Yes, it sticks in my craw that I won the "roadie stage."  Whatever.

The night before, I had a change of heart.

photo cred: The Angry
I put the rigid fork back on.  Why?  Because I needed to do things in my own particular... idiom?  Yes, idiom.  I do not come to TSEpic to "have fun" and "be comfortable."  I come to do what I do, so I decide to do what I did.
It rained all night before the stage (I think).  The threat of rain still looming all day.  From the start, I am nowhere near where I was last year.  Then, I was off the front trying to encourage everyone to go faster to keep hypothermia at bay.  Now, I watch the entire field slip away, including Scott Smith, who I now know and can recognize from fifty feet (and then much more) away.

The word "swansong" keeps going through my head.  Smell the roses.  Enjoy this last TSEpic.  Let "the race" go.  I fall back even further into the field.  Chris Merriam comes up and gives me the "cheer up, buttercup" speech.  I tell him that is not the plan and stop calling me buttercup.  We ride together.

I leave him as he struggles to get his Enduro™ chip to scan.  I wait at the bottom of the timed section for his company.  We go on.  Chatting the whole way, we stop to remove a turtle from the trail.  Coming into the tunnel, I see beer and happy people at the end.  I stop, sit down, and enjoy the liquids provided in quantities known as "many."  We roll on towards the finish, confident that I have removed myself from the podium for good.

That night at the awards, I find out that my plan failed... just as Scott Smith's pedal.  He lost enough time working through his pedal issues to keep me in the top three.  I will have to rectify that at the next possible opportunity.  I can lose three minutes like nobody's business.

1 comment:

John said...

Thanks for the excellent coverage. I always look forward to reading these...