Not sure how to report on today's stage at Transylvania Epic… It was EPIC—maybe a little different than what some of us were expecting. Ever since signing up for this event I didn’t know what to expect and frankly, if I really knew what we were in for, I may have lost sleep over it..
First, I must report that the rain stayed away and the weather was beautiful and the remote venue at RB Winter State Park was top-notch. The roads were traffic free and the trails were rocky deliciousness. Now for the not so beauty part… The two and a half hours of driving for the second day in a row and the racing format was ridiculous.
Basically the race began with a neutral ride to the first "special test” section start--of which there were four. Instead of racing in time trial format against the clock as special tests are normally done in enduro motorcycle racing, these sections were mass start to singletrack! Ok, imagine all categories racing as hard as they could into super-rough, rocky, rooty, singletrack for 10-15 minutes.
Not to be too Negatron, but in 20 years of racing mountain bikes, I have never done anything like this and will AVOID it at all costs in the future. It was brutally hard physiologically to stand around and then sprint as hard as possible, it was stupid dangerous to ride blind into technical gnarl cross-eyed from the effort, and it was insane to allow riders from different categories to intermix and determine relatively large GC changes. I can’t even imagine the carnage if the weather had been poor!
In the end, I will be first to admit this was not my cup of tea and I lost big time again--nearly a minute and a half on GC. I had avoided major time loss and mishap on the first three sections but two riders from back in the field made it to the singletrack ahead of me on the last section and then were unable to ride the trail forcing everyone behind them off their bikes. Nice move guys! Adding insult to injury my off-trail jaunt to get around them resulted in a stick jamming up my rear derailleur and another stop.
The riders who stuck it and may be the next "mass start mini-xc world champs”: Blake Harlan and women’s stage winner Selene Yeager! While Blake finished a measly third behind Jeremiah Bishop and Alex Grant today he is younger, doesn’t ride multiple bikes and hasn’t been at the front most of the week, so he gets my vote! Here are the placing results:
Open Men Stage
1. Jeremiah Bishop (CFR)
2. Alex Grant (CFR)
3. Blake Harlan (Jamis)
4, Brandon Draugelis (PAValleys.com)
5, Drew Edsall (Yeti)
Open Women Stage
1. Selene Yeager (Team CF)
2. Rebecca Rusch (Specialized/Red Bull)
3. Karen Potter (iRide Adventures/MTBRaceNews.com)
Tomorrow's stage has been shortened to 25 miles or less. Maybe two and a half hours. I am bumming because it was supposed to be the "queen” stage, but like an early Oregon firework, it is sounding like it may turn out to be a smoke bomb! Hopefully the weather holds and the rain stays away for us to play!
Until then, good night from PA…