Believe it or not, the second
running of the Trans-Sylvania Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race is right around the
corner. The widely well-received event, held just outside State College,
Pennsylvania, runs May 29th - June 4th.
Our own Karen Potter finished
second in the inaugural event, now she connects with race directors Ray Adams
and Mike Kuhn for a preview of what’s on tap for 2011. Read her full interview
Race News - After a successful launching of the Transylvania Epic Stage Race last
year, are you both ready for year two? TSE was my first stage race
and I must say, I had a blast and thought it was very well run, as did the
majority of the racers I spoke with. So what could you possible improve,
and still keep a balance of appealing to elite riders and average ordinary
Trans-Sylvania Epic - We were completely psyched about a lot of year one. There were a
few things we wanted to address and see if we could improve.
Camp TSE is a huge
plus for the event and one of the things that makes us unique - stay in one
place every night and bring as much stuff as you need plus have a really fun
week getting to know people in your lodge. Because of the set up, as a
couple people remarked, 'It is like a summer camp for mountain bike loving adults.'
So what can we do better? We're tweaking the daily schedule so
there is a little more time to chill after the stages each day and enjoy the
camp and camaraderie even more than last year. We're also starting two
more of the stages than last year from the camp. That means 5 of the 7
stages start and finish at Camp TSE and we use a few different ways to get in
out of there to keep it fresh all week long. That's just going to make it
easier and more fun for everyone. The Coopers Gap Stage on Monday actually
starts off with an absolutely rippin' descent after a very short climb in the
first mile from camp so that will be interesting to watch for sure.
And speaking of
"watching" the stages, that is an aspect we're really focused on this
year too. We'll be continuing to push daily Facebook and Twitter updates out from the lead vehicle as we roll through the stage and CyclingDirt
will be there all week long to provide their fun brand of post-race coverage,
but we're working on some ways to get CyclingDirt out on the course during the
event on the motos so that we can provide more with-in race coverage than last
year. It looks like Giant Mid-Atlantic's Matt Miller will be supporting
the CyclingDirt effort during the race with helmet cam footage and our incredible
photographer Abram Landes has been experimenting with
video as well. Abe will likely be sharing that coverage with CyclingDirt
but also putting it to use in the daily post-stage wrap-ups each evening.
A goal of ours is
to provide some live evening coverage on CyclingDirt during the awards and
next-day previews. We're not there yet, but we're pretty sure we can make
it work. Stay tuned to the site and social media and we'll let you know
as it happens.
received some major revamping this year and we're really happy with the
results. We're working with Abe and Mike Cushionberry to keep providing
fresh and interesting content too about more than just the race but about some
of the riders who will be taking part and other things going on in the TSE
And - we're
getting close to the end of this I think! - we revamped the "Epic
Team" category a bit to try to make it easier and more accommodating and
through the Epic Team offer a really special value as a way to take on or try
out TSE. Basically, you put a team together with up to 4 other people
(teams of 2-5), enter the race and as long as at least 1 person finishes each stage
the team stays in the running for the week. Anyone on the team can ride
whichever and as many stages as they want through the week. There are all
sorts of possibilities - Can't get the week off work? Not sure you can
make it through 7 days? Don't want to race 7 days, but pick some to do
and other days to chill? Looking for way to test yourself for a future go
at the full week? Just looking for a couple days of awesome training?
The Epic Team option opens the door for anyone in these situations to
take part. We figure that most people in this category probably won't do
every day and the entry fee reflects this (though it should be noted that Epic
Team racers don't go home with quite the same swag as the racers that commit to
solo or duo).
Race News - Any major changes to the stages?
Trans-Sylvania Epic - The big change is really the two stages starting from camp as I
mentioned above and all the great stuff doing so brings to the overall
experience. We've added a bit of distance to a number of the stages, but
not a big amount to any one stage. The total for the week is about 25-30
miles more than last year. While we've made these changes we've stuck
with our goal of creating stages that are super fun and definitely not the death-march-a-day
approach that many stage events seem to take.
We want stages
that feel and ride differently every day and offer a variety challenges and
experiences. We want to reward great all-around riders and also offer
opportunities for riders with different skills to excel on different days.
Again, like the Tour de France - where some days are for sprinters,
others for climbers, and others for just strong guys or time trialists - we're mixing
it up. TSE is designed purposefully with this idea in mind -- we want
different racers at the front on different days. And if you look at last
year's results it pretty much played out like that. We think it is more
fun for the participants and for spectators if the racing is a bit
unpredictable. In fields with a little depth this isn't a stage race
where you can just photocopy the top 10 after stage 1 and hand that out as the
results for the rest of the week.
Race News - Your sponsors got some great publicity last year, any new or noteworthy
ones for this year? Returning sponsors?
Trans-Sylvania Epic - For sure. We're really lucky to have some fantastic sponsors and
Stan's NoTubes has stepped in a big way to support the event. NoTubes has
a local office in State College and several of their sponsored riders are
taking part in TSE as well. NoTubes also stepped up to the plate for the
TSEpic.com Team which is basically Ray and I and a few of the other guys who
make TSE happen and while some of the team will be at the front of races
banging bars really the idea is to be out at races and events like DirtFest at
the Allegrippis Trails (site of TSE's day 4) and the RCST Bash at Lykens to
talk to people about the event. There is a lot to talk about and it
really is tough to get everything we're doing out there so we're hoping people
will see us and feel free to chat us up about TSE because we know it is
something that everyone who rides a mountain bike will love. I mean, how
many other races let you sleep in a bunk above Mark Weir? What more could
TSE and the team
also have some great support from Pactimo and Club Ride apparel - the
combination gives us the best technical wear going for the races and some
killer casual-technical threads that just look and perform awesome,
respectively. Hammer Nutrition is back - they were another huge supporter
in year one and will be really taking care of racers again in 2011. WTB
continues with us again and the triplets - Weir, Moeschler and Cruz - are all
coming back aboard their new Cannondale Jekyls this year. Those guys were
super fun to have around and I hear they are really stoked about the Super-D
Jersey presented by flaik. Of course flaik deserves another mention and
we really can't wait to put what they are providing into action.
Purple Lizard maps and Freeze Thaw Cycles have been incredible to work with
from the time we started talking about this thing. Freeze Thaw will be
back to support the racers with daily mechanical support at Justin's pavilion
at Camp TSE. Those guys busted their asses last year and were certainly
appreciative of any good beer delivered with a bike drop off. They will
again be offering full shop support for any repairs for a customary service
aboard as our official media partner this year and we've been able to do some
sweet posters that went out to about 1000 shops and eblasts to 100,000
subscribers through that partnership. Hopefully they'll be a great source for
event coverage during race week too.
The list keeps
going and much like in the Oscar acceptance speech I'll never give I'm afraid
I'm going to forget someone! Misfit Psycles is back and Peter will be
putting up another stellar SS frame for a mid-race award. We can only
hope the method for awarding it will be at least as amusing as last year's
"Why I should win this frame" write in competition emceed by Colt and
won by Mike Festa's, "Because I'm a roadie POS and I need to HTFU!!"
Race News - You have quite an impressive list of entrants this year with many new
elite riders and many repeats - does this surprise you? Do you anticipate
the podiums changing up after each stage?
Trans-Sylvania Epic - Are we surprised? We're super happy about it. Certainly
we've been focused on providing a great event. We want TSE to be a ton of
fun - a vacation on your mountain bike on awesome trails with great support
that happens to be around a well run race and at a great price. From the
start its been about creating something really enjoyable for the average
mountain biker. That's why we mix it up - why stages aren't death marches
and aren't daunting distances day after day. That's why we base it out of
one camp rather than moving around every night. That's why we even offer
day care services! We feel that with the sort of hours a typical sport
racer puts into riding a person can be prepared for the challenges of TSE.
Ray and I have loved racing our bikes over the past 20 years or so, but
we're less motivated by xc performance and love doing really awesome trips with
our bikes. Our vision has been to create something that appeals to people
looking for an awesome experience whether they're all about racing or not.
Our goal hasn't been to necessarily go after the elite racer though we
certainly love having them attend and appreciate their support. What
we've heard is that word has been spreading amongst the elite racers that TSE
is well run and a lot of fun - which is exactly the idea. I guess it
shouldn't really be a surprise that those are things the elite racers are after
too. We all got into this sport because we love riding in the woods and
that's what TSE is all about whether you're a national contender or are just
all about the ride.
Do we anticipate
the podiums changing - that is the goal.
Race News - Any other last minute elite riders on the radar screen?
Trans-Sylvania Epic - There are a few more we’re talking to, we’ll see
Race News - What do you envision for TSE over the next few years?
- We're hoping for steady
growth, and adjusting our formula for success as we continue to to develop the
Click Here to read MTB Race News' full coverage from every stage of the 2010 Trans-Sylvania Epic