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Drew Edsall races toward victory in the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic enduro classification in 2013. In this photo, he demonstrates the technique of holding his timing card between his teeth as he blazes through a timed enduro segment.
New cash prize payout for enduro classification winners
The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSEpic) mountain bike stage race has refined and expanded its enduro competition for the 2014 edition on May 25-31. With an average of three to four timed segments per day this year, the TSEpic is more than a cross country race; it's a backcountry, multi-day enduro experience, too.
More frequent enduro segments and cash prizes are what's on tap for the race in central Pennsylvania. Starting with the individual time trial stage on day 1, week-long competitors will enjoy nearly 25 timed enduro segments against which to test their descending mettle - double the number of segments in the 2013 edition of the Trans-Sylvania Epic.
"What we saw last year was that everyone, regardless of whether they were gunning for the podium or just vacationing at our mountain bike 'summer camp', loved the enduros," said Trans-Sylvania Epic Race Director Mike Kuhn. "There is only more fun to go around this year."
New for the 2014 seven-day race, the men's and women's enduro classification winners will take home a cool $1,000 each. The TSEpic will also again offer the "Everyone Else's Enduro" with awards going to top enduro rider across the duo, Epic Team, singlespeed, and masters categories.
More refined enduro courses will serve to further differentiate the cross country-focused competitors from those who get to going fast when it goes down. The Trans-Sylvania Epic showcases an incredible range of terrain on which enduro racers can shine.
Akin to the points leader's jersey or the sprint leader's jersey in major road races like the Tour de France, the TSEpic's week-long enduro competition gives trail specialists a chance to dance in the spotlight of the race's national and international media coverage. Rather than racing hard both up and down the ridges and valleys of central Pennsylvania, enduro competitors and enthusiasts can choose a less taxing trip to the top and let it all hang out on the way down. Riders have the options to spend the entire week focusing solely on the enduro segments; pick and choose which ones they want to be timed on; or stay focused on their overall general classification and skip the enduro segment timing (except for on day 3, which is an all-enduro stage).
The Trans-Sylvania Epic's east coast descents may not offer the long, flowing descents of their left coast Rocky Mountains brethren, but what they lack in duration, they make up for in gnar. The challenge of Pennsylvania's backcountry enduro is figuring out how to make sense of the jumble of ancient rock that greets racers during high speed descents. There are no manufactured jumps and berms, but those with superlative technical skills, elite-level fitness and quick decision-making skills will come out on top.
The enduro competition isn't just for the week-long participants: the recently launched three-day, TS3 version of the Trans-Sylvania Epic will also feature 12 different enduro runs through its three days and will award prizes to the overall male and female enduro champs across all TS3 categories.
2014 marks the fourth time in five years that the Trans-Sylvania Epic has featured uniquely timed, mostly downhill-oriented special segments. Originally, the race featured super-D styled runs in the R.B. Winter State Park stage. Last year, enduro-racing was integrated throughout the event.
Those who seek the thrill of enduro racing will especially enjoy the Galbraith Gap enduro stage on the third day, with the entire stage devoted to the enduro format. Five separate timed sections with more than 3,000 feet of descending and some of the most technical descents of the week feature in this thrilling stage.
"The Trans-Sylvania Epic enduro stage is among the best days on the bike I've ever had," said last year's enduro classification runner-up Derek Bissett, who has also competed in the Enduro World Series. "There are no lifts or shuttles to get yourself to the start of the stages, just awesome singletrack and gravel in between. The stage variety separates it from most enduro competitions and allows the technically excellent trail rider to excel."
Racers considering the enduro classification may be wondering, "What about my bike? Do I need a new one?"
Trans-Sylvania Epic's Race Director Mike Kuhn replied, "If you're really going for the enduro, you certainly would benefit from a enduro-friendly bike, but if you're here for the general fun of it, we recommend what we always do - big wheels, big tires and big smiles."
"We are absolutely putting in some fast and technical descents, but many of the segments in the Bald Eagle and Rothrock State Forests have historically been part of not only theTrans-Sylvania Epic, but also the old Coburn cross country course, the Stoopid 50 and the Wilderness 101. If you are focused on the enduro, you likely will be faster on a bike specific to the demands of descending over some rocky technical terrain, but special equipment won't be necessary to enjoy the ride."