The Trans-Sylvania Epic presented the fourth edition of its annual mountain bike stage race in and around State College, Pennsylvania. In 2013, the seven-day race will run from Sunday, May 26 to Saturday, June 1. As the race continues to evolve, a few changes are on tap for next year.
"We're always looking for opportunities to include more singletrack," said Mike Kuhn, who co-promotes the race with Ray Adams.
Bountiful local singletrack and novelty are two factors behind the changes for 2013.
"We also want to keep the race fresh and people who come back for multiple years can have different experiences. We don't want the same stages year after year after year. There is so much to showcase locally," said Kuhn to Cyclingnews.
Perhaps the biggest changes for 2013 are the return of an enduro stage and the elimination of the Raystown Lake stage.
The enduro stage was not part of the 2012 edition; but it was previously run at RB Winter State Park. This year RB Winter State Park will host a cross country race, but the course will include some different trails and be run generally in the opposite direction.
The new enduro stage will be held near Tussey Mountain, closer to State College and race headquarters at the nearby Seven Mountains Boy Scout Camp. Kuhn said he is close to finalizing the route for the enduro stage, which will feature three to five timed segments (individual time trial format) with pleasure pace rides in between the segments.
"The enduro will give us another day in Rothrock State Forest. Riders will go on the timed segments at about 30-second intervals. Because they can self-pace themselves in between, you just kind of ride and then get to your segment and do your thing. I'm not anticipating any mass start segments."
Kuhn said he is also considering having some timed enduro segments each day that count toward an enduro overall. BC Bike Race, a seven-day stage race in Canada, already has established a similar enduro race within the overall race. "We're working on details and will make a decision on that later," said Kuhn.
While some racers will miss the super buff Raystown Lake trails, others may enjoy the change of venue. "There's no more Raystown this year, but I think we'll be back. Mostly, we want to change things up. Raystown is super fun, but there is only enough there for exactly what we have done with that stage for the last three years. We want to keep the race fresh for people who come back for multiple years; they can have different experiences."
In other changes, the Cooper's Gap stage will get more singletrack, and the Coburn stage will be reversed so that racers hit the stage's singletrack first and then the gravel roads. "Running it backward, it rides completely different, and I'm sure it will race differently, too."
No major changes are expected to the classic Tussey Mountain stage.
Racers have the option to compete solo, as part of a duo team or as part of a five-person Epic team. Kuhn said 2013 race registration numbers are up compared to previous years, and he is expecting the race's biggest crowd yet.
There is also an experience category option. "Experience" racers start each stage early, ride the marked courses and enjoy support. Along the way, they usually get to see the top racers in action. The category is more like a mountain bike vacation than a race since experience riders are not included in the GC.
The Trans-Sylvania Epic is the primary fundraising mechanism for the Outdoor Experience Organization, a non-profit a 501(c)(3) corporation. The organization raises money to support existing and build new trails in Pennsylvania.
2013 US mountain bike nationals will also be held in Pennsylvania and Kuhn says racing the Trans-Sylvania Epic could be a way for some to get used to Pennsylvania's roots, rocks and humidity in the lead-up to nationals.
In 2012, Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) and Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) won the Trans-Sylvania Epic.
2013 Trans-Sylvania Epic
Sunday, May 26 - Prologue time trial
Monday, May 27 - Cooper's Gap cross country
Tuesday, May 28 - Coburn cross country (mostly gravel roads)
Wednesday, May 29 - RB Winter State Park cross country
Thursday, May 30 - Tussey Mountain area enduro
Friday, May 31 - Tussey Ridge cross country (queen stage)
Saturday, June 1 - Bald Eagle and Little Poe cross country
For more information on the race, visit www.tsepic.com.