After four days of traversing the dirt and gravel roads in Rothrock and Bald Eagle state Forests, I'm sad that it's come to an end. Being able to work this event has combined a few of my favorite things, driving, photography, and exploring the wilderness. On top of that being able to work with the owner of Stradalli Tom, and the team riders, Bob, Cesar, and David, as well as the Tran-Sylvania Epic staff. It was truly a great experience.
Since I spent most of Thursday night catching up on editing photos for the photostore, I didn't have a chance to write a post for stage 4 of the race.
Thursday started with a 50 minute drive to R.B. Winter State Park in Bald Eagle State Forest. The park turned out to be fairly easy to navigate, and the first trail section, and the end of the first enduro section were conveniently across the street from each other. The first enduro section lended itself to better photos with a combination of wide trails, narrow single track, and my favorite , the small bridge over the stream running through the course. After about 40 minutes of shooting at that location with the event photographer, Abe , and their videographer, Thom, I made my way up to the fourth enduro stage on the Green Gap Trail. I didn't stay here for long, since the skies opened up and drenched myself, my cameras, and the inside of my car (thanks to my leaky sunroof) while I waited for the riders to come through. After Bob passed by I bailed and made my way (in what felt like a rallycross stage) to the fifth enduro.
This had to be my one of my favorite sections in the entire event, because this was road jump. Yup, it's exactly what it sounds like. The trail is angled in just a way that the riders can build up enough speed to clear the road that intersects the trail. At least that was the idea, but the freshly places wood chips put a slight damper on the speed. That didn't stop most of the riders from whipping out a few varials, manuals, and just generally "hotdoggin'" across the road.
I didn't make it to the road jump to catch Bob or Cesar, but did happen to see David in his cycling trance, and Tom just stuck his tongue out at me after I yelled "do a flip!" as he came down the trail.
On the final day at Tran-Sylvania, we're back in Rothrock, only a few miles from the second stage. Unfortunately, due to my night-owl tendencies, I rolled out of bed too late to meet the team at the starting line. Or so I thought, after meeting our other photographer Christian at the second enduro on the Lingle Valley trail, who informed me that the race started late, which meant we waited almost 45 minutes before any sign of the riders. After getting a few shots of Bob and Cesar dipping their rotors in the stream crossing I found on the trail, I quickly left to catch them again at, what I thought was another road jump.
It wasn't. There was a small jump, but not over the road. I posted at the small jump for a little while since the photos were still decent from this section, but I was regretting leaving the stream crossing so soon. Even more once the rain started again, and didn't seem like it was going to stop anytime soon.
I made my way over to the fourth enduro, cleverly dubbed No Name, where I unfortunately missed Bob and Cesar, but decided to stay to build up enough photos for the store, and to get some photos of David, since I haven't seen him yet that day. I made my way up the trail, in the rain, over slippery wooden bridges and rocks until I found a few challenging sections in the downhill portion of the trail.
I made my way back up to the base camp in time for all of the rain clouds to clear and only a few minutes before David crossed the finish line. Overall it looked like the team did fairly well, especially with Bob averaging 8th in the solo men's division (not too shabby for one of the oldest riders) and Cesar taking second in the Solo Men's 40+ division on Friday. Though the team didn't leave completely unscathed, two stitches to Cesar's chin was a quick remedy for the spill he took before the No Name enduro.
Working with Stadalli on the Tran-Sylvania Epic is definitely going down as one of the best gigs that I've had the opportunity to work, and now I'm shopping for a new mountain bike so I can take advantage of some of the trails I was able to watch the pros tear through.