Race Dates: May 23-26th
Race Type: Mountain bike race and Enduro
Location: Marysville, PA
Rider: Jessica Kutz
Over the holiday weekend I participated in the Transylvania Epic 3-Day Stage race. This is the first year of the event, a tag along to the Epic 7 Day Stage race. The race takes place just outside of State College so the trails are basically most my home turf (even if I rarely ride some of them…the terrain is all the same here). 2 days were cross-country style races and the last day consisted of all enduro segments. During the cross-country segments there are also enduro segments. An enduro segment is a separately timed, mostly downhill and very technical. We all wore timing chips, one quickly pauses before the segment to scan and then scans out at the end of the segment.
Stage 1: Jessica Kutz 2nd place overall and in the Enduro
Stage 2: Jessica Kutz 1st place
Stage 3: Jessica Kutz 1st place segements 1 and 2
OVERALL Jessica Kutz 1ST PLACE!
Day 1. Bald Eagle, 30 miles. Stage one for the 3-day racers was simply 2 laps of the course that the 7-day racers do a single lap of the first day. I had a good start and was in the lead for most of the 1st lap. I got caught right before the first enduro segment. My first enduro segment did not go great. I got nervous after hearing the timing beep and rode sloppy through the segment. Not a huge concern in a race that long. What really started to get to me was lack of water! I lost the woman in front of me going in to lap 2, and mostly suffered through the 2nd lap wishing I had brought a 2nd bottle of water along. At the end of the day I was 2nd in the GC but down by 12 minutes to 1st place. OUCH! Lots of time to make up!
Day 2. Coopers Gap, 41 miles. This stage is known as the “king stage” in the 7-day race and we raced the same course. There are two things I know about the Coopers Gap trails (1) they are beautiful (2) they’ll kick your butt if you aren’t on top of your game! I knew today was the day to gain back the time I lost on day 1. The leader for the women’s GC was out of sight, while myself and the 3rd place rider (Missy-Toasted Head Racing) were riding back and forth all morning for the first 20 miles or so. I was clocking in for the enduro segments while Missy opted out. Following a fast and treacherous downhill segment and a long road climb I put some time into Missy, leader still nowhere to be seen. My push didn’t last long; I had a mental melt down for a moment (more like 30 minutes) while I was out of water. Who knew you could blow through 2 bottles in less than 13 miles…t’was very hot and humid! Missy caught me on a road segment right before the last climb of the day. She came with valuable intel that the woman leading the GC had crashed hard on an enduro segment and was BEHIND us. That was all I needed to hear to know it was go time. If you’ve ever raced the Wilderness 101 you know the climb up Stillhouse (after aid station 4). It’s a never-ending steep climb on rough gravel road. I shifted into one gear harder than I wanted to be in and got crankin’. I rode away from Missy and started building my lead- knowing this was my last shot to break away. I came into the finish line stoked with my effort up Stillhouse and successfully taking over the GC and winning the enduro for the day!
Day 3. Tussey Mtn Enduro Stage. There is lots of strategy that can go into stage racing. For me this last stage was going to be huge. I had a 6 minute lead on 2nd and 10 minute lead on 3rd in the GC going into this stage HOWEVER both of those ladies were riding those fancy 29er Cannondale Scalpels, which I have decided might be the best bike possible for racing these trails and are 100% a more appropriate bike for racing an enduro compared to my hardtail with 80mm of front suspension. Lets just say I brought a knife to a gunfight. My strategy- “fake it till ya make it” (and not do anything stupid). The final stage was enduros only, so your overall GC time for the day would only be your enduro time (not the time you spend riding to get to each segment). I knew I was at a disadvantage equipment wise, but I threw on my baggie shorts and tank top and was ready to rumble. My goal for the day was to not crash (my tank top/ lack of coverage was motivation for that), if I could keep the rubber side down I knew I wouldn’t lose mega time on any segment. Other than that I just had to ride and clean and as fast as possible to limit the time I’d lose. I ended up having some of my best runs ever down those trails; I even cleared Wildcat for the first time (I dropped my seat before the segment to facilitate that!). When it was all said and done, I won segments 1 and 2 and only lost minimal time on segments 3-5. Happy to say I secured my win in the GC overall and won the first every Transylvania Epic 3-Day ☺
Post TS3 I ended up getting really sick, so I’ve been off the bike the rest of the week. My plans to race Bear Creek this Sunday are cancelled. No use in digging myself a hole if I’m not feeling 100%. My next race will be in my June and I’ll be racing on my home turf again either at the Stoopid 50 or the Rothrock trailmix, still undecided! Enjoy this great summer weather, I'll check back soon!