Wednesday, June 1

Trans-Sylvania Epic '22: Stages 0 - 2

Did my day-before the five stages of racing at the Trans-Sylvania Epic go as planned?  Mostly.  Up at 6:00, AM, out the door an hour later, eight hour drive, start to unpack and settle into Eagle Lodge (for the 11th time)... Josh rolls up twenty minutes later, and the first beer of the week is cracked open, and the best-laid plans of mice and men began to go awry.

Stage One: Poe Paddy (32 miles, 3,000+ feet of climbing)

It's just as I remember it (and also how I don't remember it).  We neutral roll outta camp and the race goes live on the gravel road.  I've always had trust issues with mass starts, and this one reminds me why.  A rider touches wheels with someone who gets a little too friendly with his brakes, and she high-sides and touches the floor pretty hard right in front of me.  Fortunately only one person ends up taking a gravel bath, but hopefully everyone within earshot has learned a valuable lesson.

Shale trail to real trail and over to the first Enduro™ segment of the week.  It becomes immediately apparent that the TSE will be a much more enjoyable experience with 140mm of travel as as opposed to doing it on a turgid fork... again.  I can run into things with reckless abandon... which is nice.

We continue over to the Poe Paddy State Park where we have to dismount and run on pavement because "rules," and I'm very quickly reminded that I'm not a runner.

photo cred: Bruce Buckley
The rest of it goes kinda like I member it.  Grunting up single track with many impediments to forward progress and also many people with cameras to document my inability to climb up a cliff littered in rocks.

photo cred: Bruce Buckley
Keep it going to the finish and somehow end up with the same time I got back in 2021 with the turgid fork, which probably says more about my preparations and fitness than it does about my equipment choices.  "Race-wise," the entire single speed field only started with six riders.  We lost Gordong to the Open class.  Two riders couldn't make it to the event.  From there, it was 2021almost podium guy (DNF'ed a stage) Thad, Joe who beat me last year by 9.5 minutes, his boy Mikey who's not even half my age, venerable veteran Dan, and also just as venerable Scott who finished just behind me last year.  

I ended up fourth on Stage One with my work cut out for me the rest of the week.  Better than being 7th outta 20 in the 50+?  Who can say?

The most devastating part of the entire day would be the loss of my decades old Lasko box fan.

Those of you that have read the blerhg for some time would know how much this fan means to me.  A broken handle replaced with a Race Face crank arm.  The control knob replaced with a crabon fiber XTR brake lever.  Many stickers of note and probably on its third or fourth set of replacement feet.  It's been to at least eight or nine TSEs.  Despite the efforts of Josh and I, it could not be saved.  Being that a motor costs as much as a new fan, it now ded like SS and 26" and high posts.  

Stage Two: Cooper's Gap (35 miles, 4,400+ feet of climbing)

Technically the "Queen Stage," although Tussey Ridge always fills that bill for me.  I broke my unwritten rule of single speed stage racing and swapped my 19 tooth cog out for a 20 tooth hoping it would help out on the technical climbing bits and mebbe the long slog at the end up Stillhouse Hollow. 

photo cred: Bruce Buckley
Apparently this stage runs right up my dissociative amnesia alley, because the memories are spits and sputters if they're anything at all.  I just remember head down suffering, holding on for dear life as I bounced down the descents, and moments of glory and also defeat on Stillhouse.

You'd think I'd remember more about a almost four hour day in the woods, but I don't (except the flashbacks).  I end up fourth (again) in the single speed category and a virtual what coulda been 7th in the 50+ (also again).

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