Monday, May 31, 2010

TransSylvania Epic: Stages 1 and 2

Sunday kicked off my stage racing debut at the TSE with the Stage 1 Bald Eagle prologue. 10 miles, little under 1000 ft of climbing starting and ending at camp. I was pretty nervous. I wanted to throw down a pretty hard effort but i didnt want to go too too deep that I couldn't recover for the hardest stage of the race, Stage 2. Rothrock Greenwood Furnace.
I ended up with an ok finish position, 14th, and set myself up for some close racing with the somewhat stacked men's field. The prologue course itself was a great mix of dirt road climbing, sweet flowy singletrack and rocky sections that were really tricky at your limit.
Stage 2 called for a remote start, 40 miles of racing, with roughly 4700 ft of climbing. The course profile showed a gigantic climb roughly 26 miles in, ending with 10 miles of rolling dirt roads back to camp.
The pace was pretty hot as soon we hit the first climb after the roll out. I found myself riding at xc pace for the first 35 minutes to keep contact with the lead train lead by some of the front runners. It is also important to note I was ripping through my water and burning calories faster than I would have liked due to the heat and pace. Despite the pace the trails were awesome. One of the sections must have been lifted from Brewster, as I swear it was a 100% copy of this arguably my favorite trail in the world. Looking back at the Suunto file, there was 1900 ft of climbing in the first 57 minutes or 10 miles. MY avg hr was 187... which leads us to... me wising up and riding my own race. I physically had to back it down as keeping that pace for 4 hours would had blown me up. At mile 20 to the checkpoint at mile 28 where hell. Climbing in the middle of the woods at 5 mph bouncing from rock to rock on a paper thin, rock infested trail took everything I had to keep it going. The heat was roasting me and I was getting a bit delirious. The good news was I wasn't getting caught by anyone and was holding my placing. At feed two I refilled two large bottles.On the next piece of singletrack I dropped one somewhere and would now have just barely enough liquid to finish the stage as opposed to more than enough.
I caught Mike Yozell and we started to work together to pace each other back to the finish. Neither of us were feeling amazing so it definitely helped to have somebody there to help share the work to get back home. At the end of the stage we were to go under a tunnel beneath RT 322. Ray and Nancy Adams were there handing off cold PBR's to racers. I know I was out of my mind because I turned it down.Yes I, Mike Festa turned down beer. 
Heres a great shot of me throwing down a beating on Yozell. Photo Credit : A.E. Landes Photography
Yozell grabbed one and offered to share as we climbed the last small grade. I came to my senses and took a sip of the sweet sweet hipster nectar that is PBR. I finished the stage in just under 4 hours and moved to 11th in the GC.
Stage 3 is 48 miles on a lot of dirt roads, and the forecast is calling for rain.
Results are here for your viewing.
And heres a trainingpeaks file:

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