State College, PA – Like clockwork, the sold out NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic p/b DirtRag greeted riders yet again with high temps and high humidity on the 20K individual time trial that kicks off the race. Despite mother nature doing her best to thwart the efforts, the mix of a little of everything possible from gravel to moto course to giant buried tires to Pennsylvania’s lush green singletrack kept racers smiling if not sweating in the hour long opening effort.

The third year of the TSEpic saw two time returning champ and Olympic Team hopeful Jeremiah Bishop of the the Cannondale Factory Team chew through the field catching every rider in the elite men’s category. However, the large margin of victory Bishop enjoyed in 2011’s opening stage over the rest of the field was not to be. Kona rider Barry Wicks held Bishop close and finished a few seconds more than one minute behind on the opening 12.5 mile course. These two world class racers hold a small advantage over Redline’s Justin Lindine and Aaron Snyder of the SCOTT Pro Mountain Bike Team.

Click the image to see an interview of Barry after today’s stage

Sue Haywood a former World Cup competitor has emerged from semi-retirement as part of the East Coast contingent of the NoTubes Elite Women’s Team. Haywood tore through the spring and has picked up several state championship titles in the last month. Meanwhile, PA’s own Cheryl Sorenson of Team CF most recently took down last year’s NUE champion at the Cohutta 100 a few short weeks ago. After the time trial just three seconds separate these two pros and strong springs from both indicate we could be in for a hard fought battle in the women’s competition. Less than 50s in arrears sits Haywood’s teammate on the NoTubes squad, Jenny Smith.

Niner’s Dejay Birtch snatched victory from Team Dicky’s Rich Dillen with ex-State College local Clay Chiles (Faster Mustache) holding onto third. Birtch pulled just over two minutes out of second place and has a strong lead in the event at this early stage.

Trish Grajczyk and Juan Garcia of JCTRacing/Deadgoat lead the Coed Duo Team race while State College’s own Jim Matthews (MBR/The Bicycle Shop) holds the lead in the men’s 50+ category. NoTubes racer Kenneth Wehn leads the 40+ Men’s and Philadelphia’s own Jake Wade and Steve Ordons (Philly Ciclismo) are the early leaders of a packed Duo Men’s field in which the top 4 teams are separated by less than 90 seconds. In Trans-Sylvania’s unique Epic Team category the early leader is Bicycling Magazine with their sole rider on today’s start line, Mike Yozell, putting the team in pole position.

The weather and racing for stage two will be hot with temps in the 90s and 40+ miles with over 5000ft of climbing in store for the trails through Coopers Gap.

Barry Wicks of Team Kona by AELandes Photography