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Trans-Sylvania Epic 2015: A 7-day MTB stage race or a ‘singletrack summer camp’

Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford is forced off bike by a technical rock garden on Day 7 of the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic. (Photo courtesy of Peter Glassford)

The 2015 racing season is in full swing and one of North America’s best mountain bike stage races is ramping up. Starting on Sunday May 24 and boasting $30,000 in prizes, the Trans-Sylvania Epic will treat seasoned pros, wild singlespeeders and teams of fun-loving adults to seven days of “summer camp.” I will be working with Canadian Cycling Magazine to provide daily updates for each of the seven race days this year with special insight into how you might use experiences and tactics from this year’s race to prepare for the T-S Epic or similar races in your future.

T-S Epic is a popular race due largely to its legendary, rocky East Coast trails. Combine amazing terrain with a variety of stage lengths and formats and you have a recipe for high-energy-fun. This year’s stages include an individual time trial, several traditional mass-start endurance stages, a dedicated enduro day mid-week and a mostly gravel-grinder day. The event’s website has a detailed outline of each stage.

For riders looking for a more social week, the race offers a team challenge in which you and up to six of your friends can take on a couple or all of the stages together. Both solo and team riders also can choose to participate in the enduro and East Coast Rock challenges, allowing riders to really moderate their energy levels and the amount of intensity they expose themselves to during the seven days.

A few names contesting the overall solo categories include past winner Justin Lindine, Payson McElveen, Dan Timmerman and me. For the women, several of the top riders are back this year, including Vicki Barkley, Ellen Noble, Emily Shields, Crystal Anthony and Selene Yeager. The event’s singlespeed category is always entertaining to watch due to the amount of on- and off-bike fun these riders experience throughout the week. Rich Dillen and Chris Merriam are back again this year.

The T-S Epic awards technical skill with a separate enduro competition that runs within the daily stage-race tally. Riders tag in and out of segments using an electronic tag at two to five predetermined segments each day. Riders such as Aaron Snyder, Tristan Uhl and Cody Phillips will put a focus on being the fastest in these segments, while many talented age groupers will target the win in the Enduro for Everybody Else category.

If you can’t make it down in 2015, make sure you tune in to daily for my report on the each day’s adventures and some tips for how to prepare for races such as this. Also follow me on Twitter for more updates. More photos and reports can be found via the event’s Twitter feed or on the TSE Facebook page. If you can’t make this year’s event, start planning for your 2016 trip to “singletrack summer camp” now.