Transylvania Epic – Stage 4 “Doh!”

Today’s stage was “remote” meaning that the start/finish were at another location separate from where the race organization is based.  For us racers, that meant we had about an hour’s drive to get there and needed to leave around 9 a.m., or shortly after, in order to get there in time to warm-up and prepare for the 11 a.m. start.  The 35 mile stage was being hosted at a trail network in a PA state park by the name of Raystown Lake.  The trails were rumored to be smooth, flowy, entertaining, not too technical, and full of “airtime” potential.

We left “scout camp” at shortly after 9 and pointed the land yacht (our rental suburban and is large enough to pass as a yacht if you ran it into the water and posted a sail on top) toward the destination.  The route took us through the heart of Amish country and horse & buggy were generously scattered along the roadway.  We were enjoying the scenery and musing at the beautiful horses pulling the uncommonly dressed Mennonite community around for their daily errands.  It was a strange cultural dichotomy; us in our “hyper-consumer” rental suburban going to race  bicycles that cost thousands of dollars on trails built for fun in a race that is about bragging rights and media exposure on behalf of marketing agendas, them in their horse drawn carriages simply trying to get from point A to point B in order to carry out the chores required for survival.

Anyway, somewhere around 2/3 of the way to the venue, I had a strange visual in my head of my riding shoes drying underneath my bed back at Scout camp.  Doh!!  We spun the land yacht around and, for us, the race began.  I broke a few traffic laws and shaved 10 minutes off of the return trip to camp.  On the way back out, I broke a few more, but still we were going to arrive late.  Fortunately for us (or more specifically, me!) the race organizer was sympathetic and, as it turns out, a few other people were also running a bit late, so he bumped the start time back 30 minutes, to 11:30.  We rolled into the venue at 11:25, frantically changed in to riding apparel, threw the front wheel on the bike, and lined up.  Whew!!!

Once underway, I figured things would settle down.  The start sent us up a steep paved road for a few minutes before diving right into the highly entertaining singletrack that we were about to ride on for the next 35 miles.  I was still trying to get sorted out and settled in, so I hopped on Doug’s (2nd place SS rider) wheel and was happy to follow his pace for a bit.  We were all smiles as the trail undulated through the terrain like a roller coaster.  The pace was comfortable and I was happy to not have to go any harder than we were.  Around 45 minutes in, we rolled through an aid station and Doug slowed to grab a cup of H2O.  I rolled on past and decided I would take the lead for a while.  Doug hopped on my wheel and we continued on.  The riding was fun and, the faster you went, the more fun it was.  A few minutes later, I looked back and realized that Doug had dropped back a bit.  I decided to give it full gas in an attempt to add some cushion to the measley 13 minute lead that I held.  Garth was on my wheel and I could pull away from him on the descents, only to be quickly caught on the climbs, so I decided to play that game for a while.

Garth and I spent most of the next 45 minutes riding together when we came to a trail junction that had no trail markings.  We immediately realized that we had missed a turn at the last intersection and started to frantically backtrack.  On our way back, we also ran into Doug and Dicky who I had just spent the last 45 minutes working hard to put time on.

A few minutes later we were back on course and found ourselves on a fairly steep jeep road climb.  I was fully adrenalized from the mistake we had just made, so I decided to keep pushing the pace and use the energy before it went away.   I opened the gap back up a bit and tried to just keep rolling.

By the end, I was able to catch up with Dave (4th place SS rider) who had slipped by us while we were on our detour and snagged the win on the day.  More importantly, I added a little more cushion to my lead and now sit 17 minutes ahead of Doug and another 7 minutes in front of Dicky.

Tommorrow’s stage consists of 30 miles of riding which will be divided into four mini XC races, with everyone regrouping between each stage.  It should be interesting….

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~ by ketchumgreg on June 2, 2010.

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