Better late than never, I suppose. After all, my personal coverage of my week at the Trans-Sylvania Epic would not be complete without at least saying something about stage 7.

For some racers, the 7th stage was a celebratory parade lap (way to have fun and put on a good show, ladies) filled with smiles, laughs, and friendly conversation. Last year, the single-speeders also partied their way around the last stage, even sipping on beer the whole way. However, this year, Morgan Miller refused to participate in this parade lap tradition, instead choosing to maintain his efforts to move up the GC board. This decision forced the warriors of the SS category to postpone their merrymaking and and don their game faces once more to defend their ground against the attacks of the hard-charging Miller. In the open men category, ‘easy’ is nowhere to be found in the respective vernacular; they kept the pedal to the metal and mashed their way around the course in search of either gaining time or defending their position.

The stage was a relatively short (in comparison to other stages) loop from Seven Mountain Scout camp, down a ‘fat boy descent’ into Poe Valley, up Tower Trail out of Poe Valley and back into the camp via singletrack and fireroad. I set myself up early in the stage in hopes of grabbing the action of the open men and singlespeeders on camera, and perhaps catch a few shots of the ladies parade rolling past as well. Once the field rolled through, I jumped ahead to the climb up Tower Trail that lie in wait for the racers. I jumped on the bike and headed into the foliage tunnel of Tower Trail, hoping to beat the leaders to the top of the climb. While I made it, I was almost caught unprepared as Bishop (Cannondale), Sager (Jamis), and Lindine (BikeReg.com) were hustling up the trail at me before I had a chance to dismount, get my gear out, and get into position. Luckily I was able to jump off, toss the bike off to the side, and whip out my camera before the lead group blew past.

In Men’s open, Lindine took the stage victory with a blistering 1:49:36 pace. He crossed the line 6 seconds ahead of Bishop, with Sager in third. Barclay (FreezeThaw/NoTubes) led the ladies parade across the line, and in the Singlespeed category, Morgan Miller posted another first place finish ahead of Rich Straub (FreezeThaw/NoTubes). Although Miller’s attack on the last day moved him past Rich Dillen (TeamDicky) and into second in the SS GC, it was not enough to beat out Straub for the GC win. Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) walked away with the women’s GC victory with a five-minute lead on last year’s champion, Selene Yeager (Team CF). Finally, after a strong week of consistent racing, Bishop claimed his second consecutive TSE title after establishing a lead on the first day that he was able to maintain all week through consistent finishes and strong efforts. Will he be able to clinch a third next year? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Stage video coverage can be found on Cyclingdirt here.
Official TSEpic stage results, the race report, and more photos can be found here.
The final overall results are here.

And that, folks, brings a wrap to the 2011 Trans-Sylvania Epic. A special thanks goes out to Abe Landes, Ray Adams, and Mike Kuhn for the invitation to participate as an official race photographer this year, and thanks to all the racers for just being awesome. I had a freakin’ blast partying in the woods for a week with you guys.

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We’ve finally reached the end of the week here at the Trans-Sylvania Epic. After 7 days straight of torturous, brutal mountain bike racing in central PA, I believe a celebration is in order. So, how do we celebrate when the racing ends? We celebrate with more racing. And beer. Of course, at the same time!

Enter the Trans-Sylvania Three Beer Derby. For every lap around the pond, each rider must chug one beer. First rider across the line with all three laps finished and all three beer cans crushed… gets to wear the Super-D jersey at the start of the 2012 Trans-Sylvania Epic.

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Today marked 6 days of racing at the 2011 Trans-Sylvania Epic. Only one more day of racing remains after this.

After a social roll-out from camp at 9AM to the start on Deaf Run Road in Rothrock, the race got underway with a climb out of Penn Roosevelt, up a steep hike-a-bike (rumor has it Jeremiah Bishop rode the majority of it), down a washed-out jeep trail, up and over Thickhead Mountain via Bear Meadows Road, down John Wert, back up Treaster Kettle to Bear Meadows, and finally to the feed zone/aid station. After refueling, the racers jumped onto Lonberger and headed down towards Three Bridges, then descended down to Bear Meadows Road for a ride back towards the aid station, and the best trail of the week: Tussey Ridge Trail, simply known as ‘The Ridge’ to the locals like the FreezeThaw/Notubes riders Vicki Barclay and Rich Straub.

My first photo-op of the day was on Bear Meadows Road on the first switchback descent the field would hit after cresting Thickhead. After catching the first quarter of the field coming over Thickhead Mountain towards John Wert, I headed straight for the ridge so I could ride out and get myself into a decent position to shoot the leaders as they blasted past. The lighting was a bit frustrating at first, given the bright, harsh sunlight and total lack of shade, however, I soon got into a groove and started catching some wonderful images after the first few riders went through. Check them out below.

The Men’s Open field attacked today’s stage hard, with Bishop (Cannondale) across the line in first, 30 seconds ahead of 2nd place Jason Sager (Jamis). Sager moved up in the Men’s GC today, passing Sneddon for second place. Bishop remains in the lead by 7 minutes, 30 seconds. In singlespeed, Morgan Miller nabbed another victory, beating out current SS-GC leader Rich Straub (Freezethaw-NoTubes) who rolled into the finish in second. Rich Dillen (Team Dicky) finished in third. The women didn’t take a day off either, with Selene Yeager (Team CF) and Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) duking it out throughout the stage until the final stretch on the open road, in which Carey opened up a 3 minute lead on Yeager for a solo finish, and increased her lead in the women’s GC over Yeager to 24 minutes. Vicki Barclay of Freezethaw-NoTubes, still hurting after a nasty fall on the first stage, toughed it out for a very solid third place finish, and remains third in the women’s GC.

Official results, race report, and more photos can be found on the Trans-Sylvania Epic website here.

More photos and video footage courtesy of Abe Landes and myself can be found on youtube here.

One more day remains in the 2011 edition of the TSE. Who knows what tomorrow might bring. Stay tuned for the final update tomorrow evening!

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Finally, we found ourselves no longer tortured by the miserably hot and humid weather that has plagued the past 4 stages. Last night as we rolled back into camp from Raystown, we were treated to cooler temps and much less humidity. Thankfully, last night’s weather carried into today (and hopefully the rest of the week) with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-to-upper seventies. While it may have been a bit windy today, the breeze had its benefits: it was extremely helpful in clearing the swarms of bugs out of the woods while I was shooting the race. Throughout the the past four stages (and even in the evenings), I have basically been eaten alive and driven bonkers by the clouds of gnats, mosquitoes, flies, and other winged insects hovering around my face. Today was a beautiful day for a bike race.

So, after looking at the course map for today’s stage, I decided that my strategy would be to ride the entire 28 mile course with the racers and throw my photo gear on my back (speaking of which, the Clik Elite Probody Sport is an awesome photo backback for trail riding). At the start of each mini-stage, I would then jump ahead while the racers were in staging and get myself into position to fire off some snaps as they pedaled their way past me.

For stages 1 and 4, that’s exactly what happened. However, since the better photo-ops were towards the end of stages 2 and 3, I decided to jump ahead of the group via fire road to put myself in a better position for photos. Regardless, I still rode with the group for the majority of the day, hanging out, chatting, and snapping some shots. By the end of the day, I managed to rack up a rather solid 30 miles in the saddle on the Niner. Not too shabby.

Since today was not run in the traditional fashion, as the stage was made up of 4 timed ‘mini-stages’ with neutral group rides in-between, with final positions determined by lowest overall time, I’ll just leave you with a link to the race results and race report. Notable finishes today include Sue Haywood (Shenandoah Bikes/Tuner/I9) in 3rd place and Selene Yeager (Team CF) finally winning herself a stage in Women’s Open, Bryan Fawley (Orbea) and Kris Sneddon (Kona) tying for the overall finish in Men’s Open (with Fawley getting the win due to more mini-stage victories), and Morgan Miller (WVa Night Club) tearing it up for the second day in a row in the Singlespeed class.

Stage results, race report, and photos on TSEpic.com here.

More photos and video from today can be found in slideshow format on youtube here.

Tomorrow the race returns to the Rothrock area with the course taking the racers over the legendary Tussey Mountain Ridge trail, a personal favorite of mine. Stay tuned for another update!

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This was a day that I’ve been looking forward to all week. The Allegrippis trails at Raystown are very unique for being trails located within the confines of Pennsylvania; think smooth, swoopy singletrack with very few rocks. While I love a good technical trail, particularly trails like Tussey Mountain Ridge in Rothrock, sometimes it’s good to let loose, dial in some speed, rail a berm or two, and have some fun! And that folks, is why Raystown is so amazing; it’s like riding a big dirt rollercoaster. You don’t need to take it from me, either. Simply look at the smiles on the faces of the racers in my photos.

In Men’s Open, Jason Sager, riding for Jamis, clinched his second stage victory. Drew Edsall (Super Cool Bike Shop) finished in second, and Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com) rode across the line in 3rd. In Women’s Open, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) rocked the day, winning over second place Sue Haywood (Turner/I9/Shenandoah Bikes) by 2 minutes. Rebecca Rusch (Specialized) also had an impressive day, finishing in third, and thus she found herself on the podium for the first time this week.

As for the GC… well, nothing has really changed for now. Although he finished a distant 8th today, Bishop still remains in the lead for the men, but Sneddon (Kona) has reeled him in a bit, cutting back Bishop’s lead to about 3 and a half minutes. For the women, Amanda Carey’s win at Raystown further extended her already-impressive lead to 16 minutes over 2nd place Selene Yeager (Team CF).

For the official race report, stage info, photos, and more, head to the TSEpic website here.
Cyclingdirt.org has posted up video footage from today’s stage. You can find that here.

Also, don’t forget to check out the slideshow video that contains images and video footage from Abe Landes and myself from today’s stage at Raystown here.

Tomorrow will be Mini XC’s at RB Winter. I’ll be riding the entire 28 mile stage, snapping away as I go along. Should be an entertaining day, so stay tuned for tomorrow’s report.

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I thought yesterday was hot. Well, things didn’t get any better for me nor the field today, as temperatures quickly soared into the mid-90s by midday. Today’s route, some 47 miles of gravel fireroads, asphalt, and a sections of singletrack would have been a blast to ride on a less-brutal day. However, the heat definitely had many racers questioning what remained of their sanity as they cranked their way up the numerous long, grinding climbs, completely exposed to the merciless rays of the sun. I also suffered in the heat as the air simply did not move today, leaving me drenched in sweat wherever I lay in waiting to ambush the field as they went by. I also battled the swarms of gnats, mosquitoes, horseflies that sought to drain my body of blood. However, I managed to click off some more great shots today despite the sweltering heat, swarms of insects, and the sheer distance the course covered today.

Now, for the race! While the majority of the field was able to complete the route as planned, there were a few who decided to call their days early: Tanner Davis, the 11 year old wonderchild made a wrong turn in on the pavement in Coburn; Peter Buckland of Freeze Thaw succumbed to the gremlins of heat exhaustion after 2 solid stages; and Karen Potter, the winner of the Prologue stage, found herself sidelined by what seemed to be either a stomach bug or perhaps even symptoms of heat exhaustion.

From the start of the race, a lead group of men (dare I say, peloton) formed that contained riders such as Kris Sneddon (Kona), Jeremiah Bishop and Alex Grant (Cannondale), Jason Sager (Jamis), and Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com/Scott). Sager attempted to launch an attack up Mountain Church Road, however he was eventually reeled back in by the rest of the group. From thereon, the group largely managed to stick together, with each rider coming through the tunnel at Poe Paddy in rapid succession. After the tunnel, though, on the way up to Penn’s View Sager turned up the heat once more, with Bishop bridging, and the rest of the riders popping off the back. Both Bishop and Sager were able to make this last break stick, and at the finish, it was Sager across the line first at 2:54:26, with Bishop in second at 2:54:28. Bishop remains in the lead for the men’s open GC with a total time of 6:55:52. Kris Sneddon of Kona sits in second, 8 minutes back at 7:03:57.

In the women’s field, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) rode away from the rest of the women, establishing a commanding 7-minute lead over second place Selene Yeager (Team CF) by the end of the race, with a final time of 3:30:20. Vicki Barclay (Freeze Thaw/NoTubes) rode well today, finishing in third at 3:38:48. After her strong performance today, Amanda Carey has now established a solid lead in the women’s GC standings with a total time of 8:29:04. Selene Yeager moves up to second in the overall at 8:37:03, and Vicki Barclay is 6 minutes back in third, at 8:43:16.

Official race results, GC standings, race photos, and today’s race report can be found on the TSEpic website here.
Also, you can find video footage of all the on-course action courtesy of Cyclingdirt.org here.

More images and video footage courtesy of both myself and Abe Landes can be found here.

The routine changes up tomorrow as everyone heads southwest for 40.5 miles on the swoopy singletrack of the Allegrippis trails at Raystown Lake, in Huntingdon, PA. Stay tuned!

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