Editor’s Note: Race report by Tim Darwick. Photos courtesy A.E. Landes Photography and Harris Dunlap.
In Stage 6 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic, Justin Lindine (Redline) continued to build his lead in the Open Mens competition, while Amanda Carey and her NoTubes teammates regained lost time.
Known as the “Queen Stage” of the race, Stage 6 presented by BMC takes riders over some of the most known and loved trails in Rothrock State Forest. Most notably, riders transverse Tussey Ridge. A few years ago, the Ridge caught fire, burning the foliage from the trees in a large region at the top. As a result, the Ridge’s leafless trees provide a picturesque view of the valley below from the beautiful, open trail covered in ferns.
With one enduro segment spanning Tussey Ridge and a second that dropped from “The Ridge” to the valley floor, riders faced 4900 feet of climbing over 40 miles. Adding to the tough characteristics of the course, the heat and humidity would create further problems for many racers throughout the key stage.
In Stage 6, Justin Lindine (Redline) defended his NoTubes Leader’s jersey while extending his lead over his competitors with another first-place finish. Second-place finisher Sam Koerber (Progold) built a small gap exiting the second enduro stage, but Lindine put in an intense attack that allowed him to quickly surpass Koerber and gain almost three minutes in the last few miles of the course.
Lindine and third-place finisher Brian Matter (RACC/Trek/Progold) developed an early lead over Koerber heading into Jon Wert trail. Though almost a minute behind the race leaders, Koerber was able to close the gap on the technical, rocky flats of Jon Wert. The three riders would proceed to take short attacks against the others over the remainder of the course.
“I definitely had a few times were I was under a little bit of pressure,” Lindine said, “All day these guys were putting the pressure on.”
After dropping his chain on Three Bridges trail, Lindine chased down an attack from Brian Matter going up the road climb to Tussey Ridge. Once on the ridge, Koerber used his technical abilities to push the pace again and develop his small lead.
But the long week caught up to Koerber, who was unable to sustain his advantage on the road segment. “Seven days is tough,” remarked Koerber, “today was the first day I really felt the fatigue.”
With an additional three minutes added to his GC lead from today’s finish, Lindine plans to “sit back a little and just be defensive” in the seventh and final stage of the race.
After losing a significant amount of time in Stage 5 from going off-course, the Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women put in an aggressive ride to regain their lost time and secure the top podium positions in the GC. Amanda Carey finished first, while Sue Haywood and Sarah Kaufmann took second and third, respectively, to move back up to the GC podium.
In the early stages of the race, Andrea Wilson—yesterday’s stage winner—worked hard to stay with the lead group of women and retain her time advantage in GC. However, the pace would prove too aggressive for Wilson, who would eventually drop away from the lead group and yield over half an hour to stage winner Carey.
Wilson’s finish would drop her down two positions to fourth in the overall standings, while Sue Haywood moved up to second and Sarah Kaufmann moved up to third. Carey holds a confident fourteen-minute lead over second place.
Local rider Madison Matthews (The Bicycle Shop/MBR/Maxxis) used Stage 6 to put large chunks of time into his lead competitors and take the U25 leader’s jersey. “I went into it with the same mental attitude [as the day before]: just go from the start,” said Matthews.
Matthews’ aggressive start was not enough to shake Cory Rimmer (Piney Flats Bicycles/Dean Endurance) at first, who desperately wanted to reclaim time lost from multiple flats in the previous stage. Coming into the aid station, Matthews had Rimmer in his sites and pursued him viciously.
“Once [Cory Rimmer] gets on your wheel it’s really hard to shake him off,” commented Matthews on Rimmer’s resilience. The former race leader would not give up easily, but eventually lost time in the more technical sections of the race.
“I’m just mentally defeated in the rocks right now,” said Rimmer. Matthews, who trains frequently on the trails featured in Stage 6, mentioned that his tactical advantages in the stage came from his expertise in “riding the rocks and knowing where the tops of the climbs were.”
Madison leads the U25 overall competition by ten minutes over second-place Gunnar Bergey (Team Seifert) and by sixteen minutes over Rimmer.
Despite his strong ride throughout the week, Rimmer remained despondent about his misfortune. “You come here to win,” said Rimmer, “Second and third get pats on the back.” Rimmer seemed open to the idea of returning to compete in the 2014 edition of the race, noting that he would be “a lot more prepared” for the race the next time around.
In the single speed competition, the day began with the typical neck-to-neck racing between race leader Matt Ferrari (FreezeThaw/Hubcap Cycles) and second-place Dax Massey(Breck Epic/Honey Stinger/Light and Motion).
“Dax was going a little slow on the climbs yesterday, so I decided to try to turn the heat up early on,” said Ferrari. “I dropped him on the first couple and he would catch back up on the trail when I was trying to recover.”
Dax rode persistently with Ferrari for most of the race. But when the riders entered Tussey Ridge, Ferrari found the day’s heat unbearable. A local rider, Ferrari commented, “I was dabbing on rocks I’ve ridden a hundred times.” Pulling back his pace, Ferrari allowed Massey to develop a sizeable lead that would grow to two minutes at the end of the day. Dejay Birtch (Ride for Reading/Stan’s NoTubes/Maxxis/Pivot) finished third in the stage.
Despite the strong finish in today’s stage, Ferrari retains the Single Speed leader’s jersey by twelve minutes over Massey.
Nathan Ruch (Evolution) extended his lead in the Masters 40+ field today with a first place finish of 3:20:02. Bob Radzwich (The Bicycle Shop/Vassago), used his local knowledge of the trails to boost his way to a second place finish. Alex Hawkins worked to chase Radzwich, but would finish two minutes back in third place.
In the overall GC, Ruch and Hawkins remain in first and second, respectively, while Radzwich’s strong ride moves him to third place.
In the Masters 50+ competition, John Williams finished first with a time of 3:51:36, thereby adding fourteen minutes to his already strong buffer over second place stage finisher Joe McCarthy. Jack Dalzell (Team CF-Ohio) finished third in the day and retained his third place standing in GC.
Jon Firth and Drew Simson (TransRockies/Honey Stinger/Planet Foods) rebounded after a rough Stage 5 and continued to develop their lead in the Duo Mens GC. The duo had a finishing time of 3:14:50, over 24 minutes ahead of second-place Mike Festa and Craig Lebair (Philadelphia Ciclismo). Pawling Cycle and Sport riders Paul Wojciak and Christian Baks finished third, while a surprising fourth place went to Marc Basiliere and Tyler Benedict (Bikerumor.com).
In the GC competition, Firth and Simson remain in first place with almost an hour gap over Festa and Lebair in second. Baks and Wojciak remain in third.
Lawrence Plug and Kaarin Tae (Java Blend) finished first in Stage 6, only four minutes ahead of Crosshairs Cycling riders Libbey Sheldon and Chris Merriam. Though a close race, the first place finish allowed the Java Blend team to increase their lead in GC to over 32 minutes. Elizabeth Shaner and Sean Riley (Griggs Orthopedics) took third in the stage and remain third in the GC standings.
In a heated enduro competition, Brian Matter (RACC/Trek/Progold) and Zach Adams (Toasted Head Racing) tied for first. With the tie-breaker, Adams was awarded first place in the stage. Derek Bissett (NoTubes/Trans-Sylvania Epic/BMC) came in with a very close time to finish third in the stage.
Despite the stage results, the SRAM/Bear Creek Enduro GC remained unchanged, with Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt) retaining the leader’s jersey, Bissett in second, and Adams in third.
Unique to the Trans-Sylvania Epic, the Epic Team category enables riders to construct teams of two to five riders to focus on fun and camaraderie while competing in a GC event. While any and all team members may start any combination of stages, the Epic Team category requires at just one team member to finish a stage each day to compete in the GC competition.
In the Stage 6 Epic Team race, Cycle-Smart riders Alec Donahue and David Thompson continued their strong command of the field with a 3:10:11 first-place finish. Team Seifert, with the day’s second-place time posted by U25 rider Gunnar Bergey, remains in second place in the overall competition, while Kelpius Cycling & Logan Taylor team finished third.