Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Transylvania Epic Training Camp, Day One

As many of you might have heard the largest mountain bike stage race, in North America, The Transylvania Epic is being brought to you by none other than my former coach and friend Mike Kuhn and his teammate Ray Adams.  This epic 7 day adventure has its own blog and you can learn all about it by going there.  So this camp features a preview of several stages of the TSE course. 

At the last minute Mike convinced me to do it. I don’t really have the cash right now, and am kinda swamped at work as I have not hired an assistant since December when Louis the Inept was shit-canned, but heck, the prospect of riding my bike on sweet singletrack in the middle of the state for 4 days (about 20ish hours of riding) and staying in a heated boy scout cabin (read=cheap) was just too much for me to pass up. I could really use the miles for my training and I was already getting sick of 3 to 4 hour rides in the Wiss and Belmont. Besides anything I did with Mike was fun, he knows how to put on a camp just as he knows how to put on a race.  And Colin told me it would be good for my training, even knowing full well that if I left on Thursday he would have to find someone else to feed his cats while he was in California, at least until I got back. 

I left late from Philly of course; got on the road at 8:30 am and headed to Mike and Kris’s place in Bethlehem.  We loaded up his minivan with stuff for camp and then headed out to Marysville to drop off some stuff at his folk's place and then onto state college. We met up with 3 other riders, Brad Ewald, Laura Gleason and Joe Castle. Brad came from Somerville, MA, Laura from North Carolina, and Joe from Alexandria, Virginia. We got up to the camp around 1 pm greeted by the sweetest little husky I’ve ever seen.  I did not take a picture of him and I did not get to see him the rest of our stay, but Mike remembers him because he sneaked Mike's uneaten sandwich out of the door of his car last timaround. Sounds a lot like Gryphon.  If it's at dog-nose level then it's fair game as far as the canines are concerned, trust me.

Laura’s home turf is the Pisgah National Forest, which she describes as “a great mix of technical singletrack, technical climbs, harrowing rock like descents, dirt descents with waterbars, and roots.”  My teammates should know; they did the state race there last year and everyone hit the podium I'm pretty sure, anyway, I was kinda out of it last year.

So today we did the prologue of TSE which was about 3 miles of climbing a rolling gravel road uphill with no warmup. I got into a rhythym and it was fine. I paced myself behind Mike and Joe who were rolling easy and it felt pretty good, not easy, but not killing me.

Then we did the final stage which was very technical singletrack, a pine forest with south jersey pine barren-like fast rolling sandy berms, incredible rock gardens, long descents, and a monster 3 mile technical climb on the back end which hurt.  A lot.  But still the legs felt good, I was happy to be up front most of the time.  My technical descents came back to me pretty quickly and it was fun following behind Mike on those long ones and watching his line. 

We did not get back from riding until 7:30 pm, drank our recovery shakes and took showers in our heated boy scout camp which by my estimation was closer to the Ritz than to actually camping, which was fine by me.  Later we drive into State College to sit and eat at The Corner Room.  It was a blast. I was so happy to be doing what I loved.  And not having to work for the rest of the week.  And knowing that Ian was taking good care of my puppies.  I just wondered if I was going to ride this well for the whole 4 days. It was a lot of riding, my fitness was not the greatest right now, I had only been on the mountain bike for 6 weeks since December, and usually when I do these camps by the third or fourth day I would crash and burn.

Such beautiful country up here.  It really makes me want to leave the city and find a place in the mountains. One dream at a time already.

3:43 saddle time/4:39 ride time/3162 feet of climbing/32 miles

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