[EDITOR'S NOTE: All pictures are copyright A.E.Landes Photography. Do yourself a favor and head on over to his web-location to view some of the best cycling photos, ever! He also does weddings, though we hope this will soon become his side job.]
Monday morning I awoke effortlessly at 6:30 AM. The time certainly wasn't my choice, but after a week of rushing out of bed to chow down on camp food, you begin to pick up a few habits.
Even a few days out from the event, I find myself wanting to play the role of Jack from Lost, frantically trying to convince everyone to return to the "island" of the Seven Mountains campgrounds. The Trans-Sylvania Epic was mountain biking in its purest form, and after a complete cycling immersion I find it more and more difficult to convince myself the real world day-to-day grind is sustainable. This race was the gateway drug to a dangerous [and arguably more expensive] addiction to stage racing, and proved to be a renewal of my love for the sport.
I will try not to dwell too much on the details of my racing, because for me this event was about more than results. It's not that I didn't care, it's just that by the time I started to find my legs it was too late to change the GC. I secured my second-to-last finishing place within the first three days, but whittled away the significant deficit between myself and the next higher rider by the end of the week [from over 2 hours to just under 25 mins].
For the short recap, the beginning of the week was marked by having zero power in my legs. In addition, I fought back severe cramping for the first few days, that is until Rachael Mirvish provided me with a weapons-grade electrolyte mix (as well as company during my darker days). By the end of the week, cramps had gone bye-bye and I was flying! In those seven days, I went from having the worst form ever on a bike [and swearing off riding forever!] to scaring myself with how well I was riding.
Some of the days were less enjoyable:
Sad Tim is sad.
Others were freakin' fast:
I think my mustache gives me lift.
And, though I failed to notice, some of the days were in black-and-white:
The riding was nothing short of amazing, but this was expected. The truly incredible aspect of the event was the organizational prowess of the Dynamic Duo of mid-Atlantic bike races, Ray Adams and Mike Kuhn. These guys toiled for hours each night to make sure the race went off without any major snafus, and their hard work paid off; everyone was ecstatic with the event, and no one died (double success!).
As Zach Adams put it, the Trans-Sylvania Epic was a summer camp for big kids, with a bike problem, and maybe a drinking one, but mostly a bike problem. I can't wait for the next time I am able to keep Eagle lodge awake with late-night banjo tunes while happening upon a one-man rave. I could, however, do without the hundreds of bugs which kept me up at night, or the small mouse which ate my best Clif Bars, but these were minor incidents compared to the incredible atmosphere provided by some of the genuinely good and funny cohorts in this adventure. Most of these people even have blogs, and are probably providing more interesting content than me, so go ahead and check them out.
Mike Wissell, who confused the Epic for a duathalon at times.
Peter Keiller, leader of the Misfit Psycles.
Tanya Hanham, perhaps my favorite Canadian.
Rachael Mirvish, most smiley cyclist ever.
Mike Festa, the self-proclaimed "roadie P.O.S."
And, lest we forget, the already infamous Rich Dillen, who you can see in 3-D in his CyclingDirt interview.