Thursday, April 21, 2011

38 Days to the Trans-Sylvania Epic MTB Race

It was a great weekend. David and Erin got married between crazy downpours and gusty winds. The weather was a total non issue as the Steel Wheels Band jammed under cover of the beautiful restored barn on Crusher Run Farm. The bride and groom were elated as they danced, laughed and ate pie. There was no wedding cake, but rather blueberry, apple and peanut butter pie. David was on cloud nine. Erin looked beautiful.

Then the former men's leader, Ryan Fawley( rallied me to go up to the WVMBA Big Bear race. Even though he is the former men's leader, I think this might be his year to get the title back. Ryan is riding great and his head is strong this year. Of course, its pretty tricky to win a race when Nick Waite( shows up. You could hear the grumbles of the locals when these pro show up. There were so many familiar faces there and some blasts from the past as well. WVMBA has an amazing thing going on.

The Big Bear XC race is held on an awesome course. There was a 6 mile prologue and then on to the bigger 14 mile loop. I love the starts at WVMBA races because they are fast, aggressive, crazy and usually a little bit technical. It was good practice for me. Since, I've "retired" from high level racing, the starts have been the thing that has suffered the most. There is just no quickness or power to my starts. And I get caught back and its slower. But having great singletrack always keeps my focus.

I got smoked at the start by my competition, friend and coaching client, Cassie Smith. Cassie had a great start and collected the $30 prime sponsored by Benji's company for the prologue. She actually had to physically grab the money, which I thought was funny. I saw Cassie several times, just seconds ahead, but could never close the gap. Whether it was messing up on the "Crack" trail, hitting a tree on a muddy road, or being a sissy on the creek downhill, I was not as smooth as her, nor as fast.

But I have to say how stoked I am that an athlete that I coach is making so much progress and is so strong on her mountain bike. She is a dedicated athlete who does all the workouts that I give her and that commitment shows and makes me proud. Also, her husband, Jeff, whom I coach as well, won his race, too. They are one fast family.

With the TSE(

only 38 days away, I'm getting more excited. It still feels early for a seven day stage race, but as Sue George said last night when I rode with her, "There is a pretty short window for summer in State College". But Sue got me psyched up for the race by telling me how much she absolutely loves the riding there. She loves both the variety and the rocks. Its her favorite.

The main issue, well besides the fitness thing, is the bike and tire choice. I'm really torn over the 29er. I just might be one of those freaks that don't think 29ers are the holy grail. For example, I am so much slower on my 29er on the downhills. Now, that is not scientific, but its a feeling. I don't feel as fast and thus I feel uncomfortable. Its strange because everyone says how the 29ers roll over everything. I feel like they are a truck instead of an suburu. The feeling I get on my Flux, which is set up as a 650B front and 26 rear, is fast and confident. I can flick the bike. I can jump the bike, I can do log hops, I can do manuals, I can rail the corners. On the 29er, I just hold on. Now, I love the 29er on the roads. But how much road is there actually in the TSE? And how much actual downhill is there in the TSE?

So, I'll race my Flux at Michaux and ride the Sultan 29er at Stokesville-Douthat-Stokesville and I will continue to debate which bike to use on which day at the TSE. And I know, its not just about the bike, but a bike you love can provide a greater measure of fun, which is what its all about.

Oh! and its Ramp time...get some King of Stink.


  1. I'm tall, so I find the 29er more stable going downhill and generally faster for me, but you are right about the cornering. My 29er turns like a bus in really tight corners and I find myself having to lift the fork or do a power slide with the rear wheel. I've never tried a 650b and would love to give one a shot one of these days.

    On another note, I had a chance to look over the WVMBA site and really like what they are doing. I'm not a big fan of USA Cycling. I find them generally incompetent and more interested in money than supporting the sport, but I guess I don't have to tell you that. I really lost faith in them after they screwed Adam Myerson and the Verge CX Series and still don't understand why the women only get 2 Olympic slots when we have at least 4 with a real podium shot and maybe only one man with a outside chance.

  2. you're coming to Michaux!!!! Sweet.