2017-05-01 / Shorts

Trans-Sylvania Epic Lights Up Area Trails

Robyn Passante

Photo courtesy Outdoor Experience.Photo courtesy Outdoor Experience.World-class competition, some of the toughest technical mountain bike riding and the beauty of Central Pennsylvania all contribute to making the annual Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic race, held this year May 25-29, a destination for riders around the globe.

But what really makes the State College race stand out is what happens between stages at Seven Mountains Boy Scout Camp, where riders stay for the duration of the event.  

“What sets it apart to many of the riders is that it feels like the summer camp they had as a kid, because we have this wonderful setting at a campground, everybody hangs out between stages,” says race director Mike Kuhn. “That’s unlike other [multi-stage races] where you either move day to day, or you finish the race and you go to your condo or hotel. There’s not that community like there is with this one.”

Kuhn and former partner Ray Adams created the race in 2010 as a way to increase awareness of the fantastic mountain bike trails in the area and to raise money for trail stewardship and the growth of mountain biking across the state. What began as a seven-stage event with 50 riders is now a five-day race that attracts about 200, with nearly $30,000 in prize money and merchandise up for grabs in several different race categories.

Racers come both for the camaraderie and the challenge, thanks in part to Pennsylvania’s naturally rocky terrain.  

“Someone once described it as playing chess; you have to plan your moves as you’re working your way through these rock gardens,” Kuhn says. “I had a rider say, ‘I’ve never had my brain hurt this much.’ So for technical riders, this is a place and an event that provides a level of challenge that you just don’t find elsewhere.”

This year’s event includes courses ranging from 21 to 36 miles on trails in Coburn, Tussey Ridge, Rothrock, Bald Eagle and Cooper’s Gap. The race overlaps with Memorial Day weekend, and there’s a three-day option for riders who just want to participate on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Spectators are welcome and encouraged to follow the race’s Facebook page for start times and course info, Kuhn says.
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