“We’re almost to the top and it’s going to be uphill all the way down”, Mark Weir said, referring to the nonstop pedaling downhills, as he crested the final climb of the 2011 Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSE) stage race. The seven-day epic took WTB riders Mark Weir, Ben Cruz, and Nate Byrom on a journey through 234 miles of rocky single track and lonely gravel roads of central Pennsylvania, passing horse-drawn carriages on the way. With stages lasting up to four hours, the 90-degree humid heat beat down any weak souls as the attrition rate climbed near 50 percent.
The trails, lined with momentum-robbing rocks, made the racers earn each mile as wheels fell between gaps making it a struggle to gain any type of speed. The downhills gave no rest due to the pedaling required to stay upright between rocky obstacles. Long gravel road stretches meant the Team needed tires with low rolling resistance but strong enough to withstand the rocks. Our favorite combo was the Nano TCS 2.1 on the rear with a Mutano TCS 2.2 up front seated to Stryker XC TCS wheels. The Nano allowed for fast rolling while the Mutano gave extra volume and traction for the rocks, all with the TCS reliability.
Between the throbbing heat and never-ending pedaling, finishing the race felt like an overwhelming accomplishment, let alone the countless battles for positioning that gave the Team more than a run for their money. Weir grabbed a 10th in the prologue with a time of 56:04 on the 10-mile course. On Stage 2 Byrom led the WTB crew over the 42-mile course with a time of 3:42 and a 9th place finish. In Stage 3, Weir again grabbed a 10th on the 47-mile course with a 3:16 finishing time. Stage 5 gave Cruz his best result for the week, as he finished in 11th for the day that featured four mini-XC races.
With overall top-15 finishes, Team WTB can rest assured that they have done all they can to prepare for the upcoming summer classics that will divide the Team with Cruz, Byrom and Kenny Burt racing in the Ashland Mountain Challenge (formerly known as the 12 mile Super D) and the Downieville Classic, while Weir and teammate Jason Moeschler take on the BC Bike Race. You could say the TS Epic is WTB’s style of the ultimate training camp.
Cheers to Mike Kuhn and Ray Adams and their amazing team of volunteers for making the second year of the Trans-Sylvania Epic even more challenging than the first and a reason to keep coming back for more!