An epic time in Trans-Sylvania

Alex Grant recounts an enjoyable month of racing

With June rapidly coming to a close, summer is in full swing and so is the racing. Last time I checked in I was headed to the Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSE) and complaining about some bad luck at the Whiskey 50. I may have written a self - fulfilling prophecy, or my streak simply wasn’t over: mechanical disaster struck on stage 2 of the TSE, and I spent about 30 minutes off my bike fixing various issues. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was another one of those days where I felt like I had good legs but bad luck.

Fortunately, the TSE is such an awesome event that it hardly put a dampener on my week. I had a blast back there.

It’s sort of like mountain bike summer camp - you stay at a boy scout camp with other racers all week and get to enjoy a variety of trails all within shouting distance from camp. You get up every morning and head to the dining hall where you eat your pancakes, eggs, and oatmeal with the rest of the crew, then go ride. You come back and swap war stories over dinner, check the next day’s stage preview, then watch a slideshow put to music with shots from the day.

As for the racing, I did my best to recover from the mechanicals, snagged two third place finishes, and helped Jeremiah Bishop win the overall. Speaking of bad luck, Barry Wicks took the prize for the most flat tires in the race - I think he went three stages in a row with double flats!

I’ve been training and racing on my mountain bike with an SRM this season and the data is proving to be invaluable. At the TSE it helped me to pace myself and also push myself. I went from no-tech training to super high tech and can already tell that it’s going to help me.

The post race party didn’t disappoint with the Cyclingdirt Three Beer Derby. Drink a beer. Ride a lap around the pond. Repeat three times. That was some good entertainment and Wicks got redemption with a win by cagily riding the opposite direction around the lake to stay clear of traffic.

Next up was another trip east - this one to the Wilmington-Whiteface 100k in New York. It’s part of the Leadville Qualifying Series, which is playing off the success of Leadville and adapting the course and format to other venues around the US. There’s sure to be some debate on the relevance of out-and-back dirt road courses to the soul of mountain biking, but you could have the same discussion about five-kilometer groomed UCI courses. In the end, it’s all mountain biking if you are riding a mountain bike; and I am in favor of anything that is going to increase participation in our sport. That is exactly what the Leadville series is looking to accomplish by drawing from the large number of road/tri racers and enthusiasts in our country.

The event itself was super fun, and Jeremiah Bishop and I were able to control the race and work as a team to finish first and second aboard our Cannondale Flash 29ers. We were together with Trek Canada’s Peter Glassford coming in to the last 10 miles when Jeremiah put in a move heading in to a short section of trail. We hadn’t discussed it, but I knew what he had in mind.

When we popped out on to the next stretch of road he still had a gap and I, not about to chase down my teammate, tucked right in on Peter’s wheel and waited until the last steep climb to jump. I felt really good at the end and closed to within about 10 seconds of Jeremiah by the finish. Dave Wiens is course director for the series and threw in some old-school, steep fire road climbing and ski run descending right near the finish, not to mention some first class east coast trail. That definitely left a good taste in our mouths after the finish.

Don’t forget to re-stock your coffee supply with our Cannondale Factory Racing La Ruta Coffee. All proceeds go to a children’s cancer shelter in Costa Rica, so don’t be shy on the ordering!

Also here’s a link to a short video I made from the TSE.

Thanks for reading.

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