The Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race will return for its second running on May 29 through June 4, 2011. Organizers announced the route for the next edition at a media camp last week. Building upon the success of its inaugural year, the Trans-Sylvania will again include seven days of racing located in and around State College, Pennsylvania. While the stage venues will generally stay the same, the organizers have tweaked start and finish locations and specific routing within each stage.
The race is put on by Mike Kuhn and Ray Adams with the help of the local community. It is headquartered at the Seven Mountains Scout Camp, a few miles outside of State College.
"The whole race went really well, and the feedback we got was overwhelmingly positive," said Kuhn of the race's first running in 2010. "We were almost surprised it went so well our first year. People told us that they couldn't believe it was a first-year event."
With an emphasis on fun for everyone balanced with enough challenge for the pros, the race will again showcase seven diverse riding destinations near the race's headquarters. Expect everything from the super rocky, technical singletrack, to fast, smooth, flowing purpose-built singletrack to gravel and paved roads.
"We want our stage race to be the most fun. We designed the week to have each successive day build on the one before," said Kuhn. "We try to mix it up and show the variety of terrain covered and how the stages operate."
In 2010, several stages started in locations remote from the race headquarters camp, but still finished at the camp. In 2011, all but two stages will start and finish at the camp, thereby simplifying logistics for both organizers and racers. Two stages will be run entirely remotely - one with a start and finish at Raystown Lake and one with a start and finish at R.B. Winter State Park.
The racing action will kick off with a prologue individual time trial on roads and trails in Bald Eagle State Forest on the Sunday of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Stage 2, an approximately 50-mile cross country, will then take racers on an extended tour of neighboring Rothrock State Forest. This is one of the two stages which will have its remote start relocated to the camp, which means significant changes to the routing. This stage will feature some of the forest's best singletrack, much of it built in recent years by the Nittany Mountain Bike Association. The singletrack is classic State College - narrow, rocky, twisty and complete with elevation gain and loss. It will include some brand new trail, constructed since the race's first visit.
Stage 3, another single-lap cross country, which last year was primarily run on the roads toward Coburn and back, will get some new singletrack added at the beginning. Kuhn and Adams have been working with one of the race's volunteers, a mountain bike and moto enthusiast, who owns property nearby.
"He owns acreage that almost borders the camp and we'll connect to it via state forest trails," said Kuhn. "He's given us the opportunity to access that and make it part of our event." Stage 3 will also take racers on an old historic rail bed (sans railroad ties) and through a former railroad tunnel.
After three days based out of the camp, the racing will happen remotely for the next two stages. Stage 4 will visit Raystown Lake for a cross country race over one big loop of the facility's terrain. The smooth, fast, flowy, purpose-built trails of Raystown are uncharacteristic of much of the riding available in central Pennsylvania - there are no rocks. In contrast to the other stages which are mostly on state forest land, the venue is on land owned by Army Corps of Engineering.
One day later, during stage 5, racers will speed through several mini-cross country races. The full stage will be broken up into three or four timed sections. In between each section, will re-group and ride to the next timed section. Each timed section is largely downhill, super D-style, but like most super Ds, also features some uphill, especially at the beginning. Although net downhill, the mini cross country stage will be ridden on the same bike as all the other stages.
On the penultimate stage, number 6, racers will return to Rothrock State Forest for another long day of cross country racing. However, this time they'll spend most of their time in another section of the forest, riding out toward Whipple Dam and back and including some of the trails on Tussey Mountain, which some may remember racing in the 2005 Singlespeed World Championships.
Finally, on day seven, racers will do one last cross country race at Bald Eagle Little Poe. The stage will offer a mix of classic Bald Eagle State Forest technical singletrack and blazing fast forest roads. The exact route is still being determined as more roads and trails are explored. It is expected to differ slightly from last year's edition.
The 2010 edition of the race was won by Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) and Selene Yeager (Team CF).
2011 Trans-Sylvania Epic Stages
May 29: Stage 1 - Bald Eagle prologue time trial
May 30: Stage 2 - Rothrock Cross Country
May 31: Stage 3 - Bald Eagle Coburn Cross Country
June 1: Stage 4 - Raystown Lake Cross Country
June 2: Stage 5 - Mini-cross country at R.B. Winter
June 3: Stage 6 - Rothrock Whipple Dam Cross Country
June 4: Stage 7 - Bald Eagle Little Poe Cross Country
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for an upcoming feature article with more information on the Trans-Sylvania Epic.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.