Friday, December 14, 2012

2012: The year of TSE -- mustaches and manifest destiny

Yea... That's right. I said "manifest destiny". Westwards the wagons. I lived in four states this year and now I'm back in Colorado. The pull of the West remains. 

This marks my first year with Faster Mustache, an outfit out of Georgia, one of the four this year. They were super supportive while I was down there, even though I wasn't in ATL. Sweet kits, sweet sponsorships, and an excellent collection of characters. 

My primary focus this year was seven days of familiar PA riding: the Trans-Sylvania Epic

Here's a much delayed quick recap with pictures compliments of Mid-Atlantic mtb photographer extraordinaire Abe Landes

Family and friends were on hand. 
 Stage one got the butterflies out of the system with a ridiculously fast time trial. It locked me in third place, where I stayed all week.
Stillhouse Rd took some of my skin on Stage 2.
 Stage two gave me a scare. Nasty crash early on had me riding safe the rest of the week.
Future FMer Dicky and I got comfortable standing here.
The start of a lot of road riding. 
 I let third place ride away on the third day. It was hot, I was beat up, and I raced conservatively. Plenty of grueling climbs had me cooling off in streams at the bottom to prevent over heating. Strauber helped by pouring a bottle over me at the aid station too.  It all worked, but I was off the podium.
Don't let him fool you, he's slow on the rocks.
What's great about NoTubes other than their wheels? Rich. 
A re-accuring character out there was Paul; dressed as Dracula. He was race support, morale support, and beer support. His post below, on the other side of an old rail tunnel we rode through, was not only appropriate, but needed. Here's to more Paul's in mountain bike racing.
Hand-up Dracula @ his cave.  
We got bored up there. 
Then came the Raystown Stage. I was fed certain information from some local friends that I could beat Dicky on the smooth grade reversals. He's tiny and apparently doesn't carry momentum well. I showed up early, warmed up until I was sweating, and prepared myself for a fast start. I put the hammer down, took an opportunity to pass on an uphill and kept pushing. At one point, Dejay was in striking distance on the unexpected hike-a-bike. It pushed me even harder.
Gaining some time. Just a little.
Sweet sweet 2nd.
Speaking of Dejay no-longer-with-Niner Birch. He was the only single speeder with suspension. The rest of us chose beefy tires and low psi to smooth out the ride.
All rigid.
We were treated to many Rothrock gems throughout the week, including Tussey Ridge. It came late in the stage, after I held onto second place for a little while. Even led Dejay through the rocks of John Wert trail. Him and his cushy fork. I knew full well that Dicky was in hot pursuit. All it took was a tire puncture on Longberger (aka Magic Carpet ride for them State College old timers) and he came ripping pass me. Oh well, another 3rd for the day.

All ridge.
Maybe too bored?
Then came our last day together, a rolling party that exemplified our true ideals as single speeders. Probably not. When our supplies were running low just before the half way point, the only aid station on course, we had a surprise. A fully stocked bar/trailer with colorful women welcoming us with open arms and full dixie cups, like a mirage in a blurry desert.  Minutes, maybe hours passed, the sweepers for the day gave up on us and went ahead, there was dancing on the aforementioned get the idea. Somehow, someway we saddled up and moved on. Barely. What followed was a mess, with some time for a nap thrown in for good measure.
Before it got blurry. 
The beer derby gave me my second introduction to the ground for the week. Note: you can't ram through traffic cones like a rock garden. The physics just aren't the same. 
Definitely after it got blurry. 
After TSE, work took the front seat, putting me in Cape May, NJ for a month, PA a bit, then here. Riding was inconsistent and racing wasn't happening. I improved my time and place at the Stoopid 50, but still just didn't enjoy that race. There's something about it. I don't know. Maybe it's too much of a good thing. The rocks and the route. Fast forward a few months and two lackluster, but not lacking lactic acid, cross races finished out my year.

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