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Kona’s Barry Wicks loved his trip to Pennsylvania and found trails as fun and technical as anywhere. Luck wasn’t with him in 2011, but he’s determined to change that in 2012 and challenge for the podium.
New trails added to slightly shorter stage race
Race promoters Mike Kuhn and Ray Adams officially announced the third annual edition of the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSE) Mountain Bike Stage Race, scheduled for May 27 to June 2, 2012, in State College. Pennsylvania.
Though there will be some minor changes next year, both Kuhn and Adams feel their general program has been highly successful, proven by a race field that doubled in size last year compared to the inaugural edition in 2010.
"We're focused on trying to milk even more fun out of the week with small tweaks here and there," said Kuhn. "Overall we will probably have a little shorter total distance for the week by about 10 to 15 miles, but the fun meter will go up a ton."
One example is shortening the day at Raystown Lake by about five miles. Though the trails are fun, fast and swoopy, at 40 miles last year virtually every rider, from elite pros to sport level, felt it was too much of a good thing. As a result, the day will return to 34 or 35 miles total, in line with the much-acclaimed first year version.
Two other notable changes involve stage 5 at R.B. Winter State Park and stage 6 on Tussey Ridge. Previously, the "mini XC" or "super D" day contained four very short yet technical timed races with neutral riding transfers in between - some might call this an "enduro". Though Kuhn and Adams stand behind the format, it was becoming too long of a day so this year it will be converted to a short cross country at about 22 miles (look for a return of their unique enduro stage format in 2013 in a new location).
For Queen Tussey the next day, the event now has access to the private Kearn's Campground which will allow the race to finish directly across the street from the Seven Mountains Boy Scout base camp. Another addition is a new route at the end of Tussey Ridge of newly cut, smooth and fast singletrack that could potentially cut off about four miles of paved road from the first two editions. Other small yet welcome changes will include racers hitting singletrack earlier on stage 2 and access to new singletrack during the prologue found on the private land of one of the race support moto riders.
Just like previous editions, Cannondale, Kona, Jamis, NoTubes, Team CF and other notable professional teams will be fielding elite racers gunning for top podium spots but while TSE has gained attention for a strong professional attendance, the promoters point out this is anything but elite focused.
"We've not really done anything particular to cater to the elite racer but are super psyched that they love what we're doing and want to come out for it," said Kuhn. "Top riders want to be at the TSE because the whole thing is a freakin' blast. They do what they do because this sport is just plain awesome. They love mountain biking and the culture of our sport - same as you and me - and we have both of those things coming out our ears at Camp TSE.
"Ray and I designed this to be doable and fun for everyone, from those really fast folks to the men and women out there racing expert and sport events and those who just love riding a lot or maybe used to race," he said. "No, you probably won't beat (Jeremiah) Bishop, (Alex) Grant, (Jason) Sager, (Barry) Wicks, (Kris) Sneddon, (Amanda) Carey, (Selene) Yeager or other top pros who find TSE such a sweet way to start their summers, but you do get to hang out with them for a week, make friends, share war stories and relish over each day's accomplishments as they play out on the big screen at our awards ceremony each night. They are there, accessible and having fun just like you."
To that end, in an effort to make TSE more reachable to everyone the new "Experience" category has been created with riders starting each day 60 to 90 minutes before the main fields and covering the same distance but without the pressure of just making the same time cuts. These riders will still be timed each day for an official finish and will have to make a time-cut but will have a lot of extra time to do so and enjoy the scenery a bit more. Epic Experience riders won't be eligible for daily or GC placings but they do get all the same swag and finisher awards.
Also, the "Team" category returns again where a group of up to five riders can mix and match which stages they want to ride, as long as at least one member is on course each day. This category is eligible for awards and placings. Kuhn has also promised the return of "stage 8" on the last day, The Three Beer Derby, won last year by Kona's Barry Wicks.
Kuhn and Adams also revealed that NoTubes has signed a three-year title sponsor deal and that DirtRag magazine has come on board as presenting sponsor.
For more info visit: TSEpic.com.
2012 Trans-Sylvania Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race
May 27 - Stage 1: Bald Eagle Prologue, 16km
May 28 - Stage 2: Rothrock Cooper's Gap, 69km
May 29 - Stage 3: Bald Eagle Coburn, 76km
May 30 - Stage 4: Raystown Lake, 56km
May 31 - Stage 5: R.B. Winter, approx 32km
June 1 - Stage 6: Rothrock Tussey Mountain, 61km
June 2 - Stage 7: Bald Eagle Little Poe, 42km