Photos: Bruce Buckley Videos: Kerry Werner

After five days of tough racing through Rothrock and Bald Eagle State forests in Central Pennsylvania, Kona Endurance Team Rider, Kerry Werner has managed to earn himself a third win at the Trans-Sylvania Epic XC stage race. The 2022 race was as much a game of strategy as it was all-out speed, with the Enduro stages offering massive time bonuses, the tightly fought race turned into a game of chess on mountain bikes. In the end, though it was Kerry who positioned himself and his Kona Hei Hei CR DL in the right place to finish the race wearing the biggest belt buckle in MTB racing!

“This was my 5th time racing Trans-Sylvania Epic and definitely my most memorable. After a flat on stage 2 I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go for the top step. But getting some time back on stage 3 and making magic in the rain on stage 4 I found myself in the GC lead going into the final stage, stage 5. I was nervous as the ball was in my court for the first time all week. I stayed glued to 2nd place and held my 30.5 second lead.” – Kerry Werner

This is the “easy” stage. Lots of gravel on day 1 makes this for a good shakeout day. See how everyone is riding the rocks and how the legs are feeling. It turned out that both were going good today. Carson, Caleb, and I were pushing all day and it came down to a sprint. There is a timed enduro segment every day, which has GC time bonuses attached. If you win you get 1min bonus, 2nd= 40 sec, 3rd= 20 sec. So there is incentive for sending but there is also incentive for giving someone a gap into the enduro and closing it down by the end. A tricky game indeed that comes with big consequences. For example, Carson won today but got 3rd in the Enduro and Caleb won the enduro but won the GC due to the time bonus. I got 2nd in everything.
Proper stage here. I was looking forward to getting after it and start making some moves. Everything was going according to plan until about mile 20 when I flatted. I plugged it and got back going. Tried my damndest to rally the Enduro but was gassed from chasing. Never saw anyone again and hit the final climb alone. I picked up 40 sec time bonus w 2nd in the enduro but the deficit is 3:17 to Caleb, who put the wood to Carson on the final climb, and 1:45 to Carson.
55min drive east of Spring Mills, Pa to RB Winter State Park for a rough and fast stage. Lots of flat pedaling and a surprise giant rock garden in the last 3 miles really put a damper on peoples day. I love that janky stupid stuff though and managed to grab the stage win and make up some time to take 2nd in GC (Also, Carson flatted).
Rain over night and rain into the morning. We set off on some slick trail and it only got wetter. I was looking forward to this as I felt that it would give me an advantage and help me get some time back on GC. It worked. Carson and I were on the rev meter all day and got away from Caleb just before Tissuey Ridge. Then we stormed the ridge while it was storming and opened up the time gap. I got 30.5 seconds on GC and head into tomorrows quick xc stage ready to defend! One more day!
The final stage. Caleb and I were separated by 30.5 seconds. All eyes were on the enduro and were glued to Caleb’s wheel. After a fast start, I was able to play the Gran Fondo game on him and cross the line just behind him which means I held on to yellow. Stoked on the win after a stressful week of being down in GC. Using the slick east coast rocks to slide my way back to the top step. Thanks to everyone that followed along.