Mike Lowe reports: May 25-May 31st Rory Gonsalves and I competed in the seven day MTB stage race known as the Transylvania Epic near State College, PA. Known for it’s technical rocky terrain, Rory and I entered the Men’s Duo category racing the Kona Rajin in it’s single speed set up. We knew going in that this decision would make racing tougher, but would eliminate potential mechanical issues the TSEpic is notorious for. Stage 1 was a 15 mile prologue and consisted of a little bit of everything we would see for the week. Lot’s of rocky single track, some steep falls, and a fair bit of dirt road climbing. We finished stage1 strong, in a solid second place well in front of the third place team but well behind the winning team. Our position for the week was pretty much set. Stage 2 was a horrible day for me on the bike. I melted during the hottest day of the week but managed to keep our second place standing for the day and GC. Stage 3 was the Enduro day. Thanks to Full Cycle Ottawa, I broke out a Kona Process 111 (yes with gears) and enjoyed bombing the 5 Enduro segments in complete comfort. For the 3rd day in a row we were 2nd for the stage and 2nd in GC. Stage 4 was considered the road race stage, and to be honest ill suited for our SS set up. The Rajin however performed flawlessly, and we finished the day 2nd with a huge gap to the third place team for the day and in GC. Stage 5 was at R.B. Winter Park, and can best be described as old school east coast riding at its best. The stage was full of twisty single track and lots of power climbs that Rory and I took full advantage of. After passing the lead Duo Team (on the side of the trail with a flat tire) about 3 miles into the 36 mile race, Rory and I decided to go for broke and win a stage. We kept the pace high but steady until the halfway check point, and then really picked up the tempo for the remainder of the race. Despite having a couple mechanicals of our own on the day (loose cleat and 2 flat tires) Rory and I won the stage by 9 minutes. This was the highlight of our TSE adventure. Stage 6 was the queen stage and took us to Tussey Ridge, one of the most beautiful trails in PA. Rory and I rode steady all day, but only managed to come away with a second place stage finish. Stage 7 is a short day in the saddle; know for beverage hand-ups and heckling over some of the most gnarly rocks that could be found on the trail. Rory put on a show in the heckle zone, riding his Rajin MTB “trial style” over rocky features that no other single speeder cleared and only a hand full of people completed all day. We finished the final stage of the week 2nd and wrapped up 2nd in GC for Men’s Duo by 3.5 hours. This was my first ever mtb stage race, and the Kona Rajin made me smile all week. As always, thanks to Full Cycle Ottawa for their support. Back to racing gravel for me….and cross season is quickly approaching. Thanks to my awesome Duo partner, my goal for the season remains in tact, I have been on the podium in every race I have entered this year.
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