Stage two at the TransSylvania Epic consisted of just over 5000 ft of climbing in about 43 mies incorporating some of the most amazing single track I have ever ridden. About two hours after stage one, like clockwork, the skies opened and saturated the forest. This completely negated any of the moisture that had absorbed into the ground from the previous day. Stage two was slated for a 9:30 am start. After getting up early and getting some breakfast Dax and I dropped off our bags to go to the feedzone. After a Star Spangled Banner Memorial Day tribute to Whitney Houston we set off on the back roads of central PA.
Everyone was grouped up fairly tight as we prepared for the first climb of the day. There was a large bridge just before the right hand turn at the bottom of the climb. As I went to turn right off the bridge both wheels went out from under me as if I was on a freshly Zambonied ice rink. I hit the ground but at fairly slow speed and only suffered a dropped chain. As I fumbled with getting the chain back on I felt like the entire race was passing me by. But most importantly my teammate was riding away from me, having no idea that I had hit the deck. Dax and I had made an agreement that we would try to stay with in sight of each other just in case something happened, so I knew that once he realized that I wasn’t in the group he would be waiting for me. Just as we started to summit the first climb I could see him soft pedaling over the top. We grouped up and ripped the descent together. As we popped out on to the pavement we could see the main group just up the road. We buried it to make contact before it was too late. Once we were safely into the group we had about a 2 min reprieve before we hit the single track.
After gingerly pedaling over a couple of small bridges, we began climbing up a trail called NoName.
It was a trail that consisted entirely of bread loaf sized rocks that were covered in moss. Any part of the rock that was exposed was as slick as ice. Trying to maintain a consistent tension on the pedals was a must. There were many short sections where I was off the bike and walking after slipping out. This proved to be an abrupt lesson on how to ride, or not to ride, the slick wet rocks here in Penn. I decided to yell out to Dax, “I bet this stuff is gnarly when it’s wet!’ and that got a good chuckle from most riders around me. These trails are a little tough to swallow at first but once you got the hang of it, it definitely helped later on down the trail. School of hard knock, right?
After having to stop for a couple of minor mechanicals, we were able to get into a groove and started ticking off the miles. We were able to finish the stage about 40 minutes off the overall winner, Barry Wicks’ time. In the duo category we finished about 10 minutes ahead of the next team. Tomorrow’s stage we will be riding more jeep road than single track, but it is the longest day of the week. I’m really looking forward to the the rest of this week.