TSE 2011 – finally!

Last week was the second edition of the Tran-Sylvania Epic MTB Stage Race near State College, PA.  Having attended this event last year and thoroughly enjoying the format, variety, hospitality, and overall ‘vibe’ of it, I was stoked to be going back to catch v2.0.

Backing up a bit, my ‘work’ has been incredibly hectic lately.  Through my job as the WRTC, I’ve been working on a couple of significant projects that are coming to fruition almost simultaneously.  The first project is a trail called “Punchline” that was just built in the Croy Trail systems west of Hailey over the last few weeks.  John Kurtz and I did the final flagging on this trail last fall and made some pretty substantial changes to it’s original alignment that we hoped would make the trail a bit easier to build and more fun to ride.  It’s a multi-use trail, but is most definitely designed for mountain bikes and intended to be ridden in one direction.  The trail has three distinct personalities in it’s 1.5 mile length consisting of a gradual traversing climb, a short technical rocky section that weaves through some beautiful natural rock features, and a long winding descent filled with features such as berms, rollers, tabletops, and step-ups.

Construction on this trail began the week before I left and my understanding is that the trail is nearly ready to be opened at this point.  Seeing this trail become a reality has been a very exciting and rewarding effort for me.  The IMBA trail solutions crew that did the actual construction of the trail were absolutely phenomenal in their expertise, efficiency, and enthusiasm about the project.  You can read an IMBA blog entry about the trail here.

The second project that I’ve been working on is the creation of a trails & pathways web portal for the Wood River Valley and beyond.  This is a project that I had originally envisioned being done through the Wood River Bicycle Coalition but, in the end, was better able to get funding and support for it through my job at the Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD).  We secured some grant funding for the project through a local USFS grant program and through the support of the USFS, BLM, and Blaine County; have been working hard on getting a ‘beta’ version of the website rolled out asap.  The idea behind the website is to provide a one-stop location for current trail and pathway information for south central Idaho.  Currently, you’d have to look in at least 4 different locations to find trail information for the various land agencies throughout the area and the information is usually outdated and incomplete.  Our goal is to provide accurate, current, pertinent information to all trail users in a format that is easy to use and understand.  With the final touches on the website complete, we were able to roll out the ‘beta’ version this week.  This is another project that I’ve dreamt of for many years for this valley and am super excited to be able to work on a solution that will hopefully be a great benefit to our communities and the area.  Check it out here:  trails.bcrd.org

So, with all of these exciting things going on, my ‘training’ has taken a bit of a backseat and has been replaced by ‘riding when I have a chance’.  I’ve gotten out a fair amount, but haven’t been getting in the structured workouts that I’d need to even feel fast, let alone be fast.

Anyway, the race started on Sunday with a prologue and then followed up on Monday with arguably the hardest stage of the week.  The temperatures were in the mid-90’s, with humidities in the same range and virtually no air movement.  Not exactly what I’ve been dealing with this spring in Idaho!  The prologue went OK, with me coming in somewhere around 5th and only losing a little time.  Monday however, was a different story.  In a roughly 4 hour stage, I consumed nearly 200 oz. of fluids and still managed to simultaneously cramp in my feet, quads, hamstrings, forearms, and triceps.  In fact, I cramped so bad throughout my body that I’m pretty sure my face also cramped up from the severe wincing that I was doing on the side of the trail while trying to get myself detached from my bike.  In the end, I managed to get a muscle or two to ‘release’ so that I could continue on my no-so-merry way to the finish line where I’d managed to lose 20+ minutes to Rich Straub, who now held quite a substantial lead over my somewhat pathetic performance.

Tuesday morning, we rolled out on what we were calling the ‘road’ stage, as there were a significant amount of gravel roads on the stage.  I really enjoyed this stage last year and was looking forward to it again.  Instead of racing, I was just enjoying the ride and at the halfway point, found myself riding with Rich Straub and Dicky, who were in first and second respectively.  During the second half of the stage, the heat once again took it’s toll on me and I ended up slipping back to 4th by the end of the day.

Wednesday was a 40 mile stage of man-made rollercoaster trails at Raystown State Park.  Again, I didn’t feel like I was ‘racing’ but, instead, was just trying to focus on riding smoothly, railing the turns, and having fun.  And again, at the midway point, I found myself riding with Rich Straub and Morgan Miller, who were in 1st & 2nd.  On the second half of the stage, I slipped back a little bit but still managed to hang on for a 4th place finish.  On top of it all, I had also clawed my way up to 3rd in the GC standings for the race.  Suddenly, somehow, I was slipping my way back into this race after a rather dismal start.

Thursday’s stage consisted of a series of timed mini-XC stages spread through another state forest (that I’ve forgotten the name of).  I knew from last year that it wasn’t possible to win the race on this stage, but it was certainly possible to lose it by pushing too hard in the uber-technical boulder gardens that were strewn throughout the four stages.  I rode pretty conservatively and managed to finish 3rd on the day, holding on to 3rd in the GC and finding myself on the podium for the first time in the race.

Friday was another ‘monster’ stage of central Pennsylvania’s finest technical trails and single track.  I went into the stage having dealt with a bit of an unhappy stomach the night before, but hoping for the best.  There was some sort of flu-thing going around that had caused more than a handful of other racers to drop out at various times throughout the week.  20 minutes into the stage, I knew that I was going to join their ranks.  I rode the first 26 miles, just trying to enjoy it and then dropped out as I rolled into an aid station.  I was bummed to drop out so late in the game, but happy that I did so and did not keep pushing and digging myself into a hole of sickness.  I did score some good karma points though as there was another rider there who had a major mechanical and was unable to continue on their bike.  I offered up my SS, and they accepted.  We switched their pedals over to my bike and they kept on going.  All in all, it was a great day.

Saturday’s stage was longer than last year’s finale, but many of us still rode it as a “parade” of sorts.  The top 3 single speeders were still racing, but most of the rest of us hung back and enjoyed a nice social ride to cap off the week.

We partied hard on Saturday night, packed up and flew home on Sunday, and I’ve spent the week buried with work.  In fact, my bike is still in the box it flew home in!

Thanks for tuning in.



~ by ketchumgreg on June 10, 2011.

2 Responses to “TSE 2011 – finally!”

  1. so I’m not the only one working more than riding?

    good to see you again!

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