The staccato of the heavy rain plays like a sloppy drummer in the background of a churning dishwasher and clinking dryer. I have a full mug of coffee doused with some cream I borrowed from my downstairs neighbor Natalie. It’s the day after I got back from Transylvania Epic, and reentry into life is underway, slowly.
For those who don’t know, TSE is a 7-day mountain bike stage race located out of Seven Mountains Boy Scout Camp near State College, PA. It consists of an individual time trial, an enduro day, a “roadie” day, and four long cross-country-style stages for a grand total of around 18 hours of racing for me. Within the race for the overall GC title, there is an enduro competition and an “East Coast Rocks” competition, for which there are timed segments almost every day.
In contrast to the one other mountain bike stage race I’ve done, TransAlp in Europe with 1200 competitors from across the globe, TSE is far more close-knit and friendly with just about 150 total entrants from the US and Canada. Friends who have done this race in the past had great things to say about TSE, and with the support of Riverside Racing, my teammate Dan Timmerman and I were excited to check it out for ourselves. Dan and his brother Matt opted to stay in their family’s RV for the week, so I made plans to room with Bryna Blanchard, a friend from NY I know through racing.
Bryna and I chatted on the phone while scouring the TSE website for housing options; we honed in on the words “bed” and “shower” and opted for Eagle Lodge. However, unbeknownst to us this was not like picking a table to match the size and decor of your dining room but rather like picking a table in the high school cafeteria. People are curious where you’re staying, and each location has its reputation. “If you want to sleep, stay in Rimmey.” We were told unhelpfully after the fact. The other inhabitants of Eagle rolled in laden with coolers, and more and more coolers, and bikes that were derailleur-free.
When we showed up, it became more evident why “extra sheets” were recommended on the packing list:
Sheets were used to make private forts of our individual bunks:
In quick order, Eagle Lodge was filled with the veteran single speeders, Bryna and I, two CTS athletes from North Carolina, two Canadians, and a brave rider who had done just one enduro race, and by that I mean one solitary race ever, in his whole-history-of-racing ever. Then there were Chris and Libbey, the savvy couple who reserved the private room in the lodge and were celebrating their 20th anniversary this week.