Friday, May 31

'19 Trans-Sylvania Epic: Stage Three and Four

Stage 3: RB Winter

photo cred: Chris M
I realized I forgot my beet juice about twenty minutes into the drive to the remote start. I wish that was the worst of it.

I tried to nap the day before, but my head was swirling in circles of exhaustion from Coopers Gap. My sleep that night was equally inexplicably shitty. I have no idea why. I was totally gassed.

All excuses aside, I was hoping to give ‘er today. I lined up at the start, was sitting at the very front of the field when the race went live, and did my best to limit my slide back into the mess early on.

Then we hit the long paved descent.

I’d forgotten about that.

So, coast, spin, coast, spin… watch the groups of geared riders fly by, the whole time looking for 50+ number plates. To be honest, they’re going by so fast, I don’t have a clue. Group after group after group.


Finally get into a climbing bit and start making biscuits. Surge past one group. Then another, taking all the shit lines on the double track to try and get back to where I was before the pavement. I manage to make it to the back of the second group that had blown my doors off on the pavement. Then the trail narrowed to one track lined with vegetation. Guess I’ll stay here…

Damn it. The group fumbles a bit in a rock garden, and I get caboosed. A quick scramble was not enough to keep my place at the back of the group, and one rider got around me. Just one tho… no big deal.

And then we hit the enduro stage.

I don’t know how, but I found one of those guys who can’t descend faster than an old man on a rigid bike. I could hear riders getting backed up behind me, but there was really nowhere to go. I “encourage” the guy in front of me, but to no avail. I watch as the group I fought so hard to chase down disappears in front of us and down the mountain.

So that's that.

Out onto some quick rolling garvel, and so many of the people I worked hard to get around on the double track just roll by me. As much as I could tell myself this is a temporary problem, I get hung up on the whole situation.

The rest of the day?

I remember my favorite days here at RB Winter. Wet. Cold. Everyone sliding around and miserable.

Today, the sun is shining, the trail is dry, and people are flying past me on the fast rolling sections. In the chunder chunk, I'm not feeling up the task. I mean, I don’t suck total ass, but I’d seen who’d gotten away from me earlier. It's like an anchor tethering my brain to a sad atoll.

At the aid station, the volunteers say we are halfway done, and I'm ready to… sit down. Cry. Roll around in a little ball like a potato bug? None of these things would get me back to the finish, so I keep moving forward. I feel my stomach starting to cave in a little, but I can’t be bothered.

Forward, forward, forward. Mashing potatoes with my pedal strokes and trying to remember the two beers in the cooler waiting for me.

Pathetic. I know.


Somehow, I’ve moved up to fourth overall. I don’t have a clue how. I’m a disaster (in front of me) away from a podium spot, but only a minor personal meltdown from sliding back into fifth or sixth.

So, I’m happy?

Two stages to go… Tussey Ridge tomorrow. I’ve had the worst of times up there and the best, so let’s see how that goes.

Stage 4: Tussey Ridge

The night before was pretty chill… until the moment as I was finishing my final beer of the evening and former promoter Dave Pryor and current promoter Ryan showed up at Upper Eagle.
So mebbe another beer and another as Dave and I discussed old times, what made previous years awesome, what to bring into the fold for 2020…

Another not so good night of sleep and then awake at 6:18AM staring at the bottom of the upper bunk waiting until I hear noise in the kitchen. Another morning of making eggs, bacon, avocado, toast, juice and coffee… something I’d consider a treat, but after so many days in a row… mebbe not so much.

Plenty of time to kill before the 10:00AM start. Cuddle in a bunk with Cody and watch the UCI World Cup race, which only means I lost track of time and headed to the start with mostly empty water bottles. Doh.

Once again, I’d forgotten how this stage starts. Once again, I’m dropped on the garvel and pavement pretty early on. I can see 50+ fifth place Gary disappear outta sight. Meh. This year, we’re headed up the back of Tussey Ridge and “down” the ridge. I get into the conga line going up, and when we actually (but not really) start heading down, I find out rather quickly that riding a rigid fork “down” is harder than going up. There’s no real momentum to aid my progress, and it’s also difficult to punch through the rocks. Oh well.

Did I mention it’s hot and humid and nasty and sunny?

Get to the bottom and over to Longaberger Trail. I used to like this trail a lot. I also used to like SPAM and Velveeta and Bud Light and Nickleback. I guess tastes change over time. I was expecting the aid at the start of this section and some Pringles love, but it wasn’t there. I go into my dark place.

I fuckle butt my way through it, gett to the aid station, gulp two cups of Coke and wad some Pringles in my Pringles hole. On and back over to the top of Tussey Ridge. I finally feel like there is a reason to live again, and I make up a few places overall with some renewed energy… a pull back in the right general direction.

Down the Enduro section, and I can tell a storm was coming. A literal storm. What would a year of TSE be without getting caught in a downpour?

Not TSE, that’s what.

Hammer down, get over to the Lake Loop that I’ve only ridden after six beers in 2017. I can only say that it’s waaaaaaaaaaaay more fun with full sobriety and semi-hinged personality. Just as I pop outta the Lake Loop, the sky opens up. I'm okay with this predicament. It was going to be a boring ride to the finish, but lightning, winds, and a downpour can change that.

Come into the finish with a three day single speeder and five day single speeder James. I lost a ton of my lead on fifth place, but would be heading into the final day with a minute and a half to play with.  A spot on the podium, now just a dream that would require someone to implode ahead of me.

Which while finishing in the top three would be sweet, you really just don't wish a final day implosion on anyone.

Oh well, off to the Pisgah Enduro tomorrow for the one day event, and then I'll finish off the TSE tale on Monday when I'm back.

1 comment:

TJ Morton said...

Good luck at the endurrible - and thanks for sharing your tales of joy/misery/fun/Pringles with us!