Short Post for a Long Day

Day three of the Tran-Sylvania Epic has me reeling a little if I'm honest. Most of it has to do with the fact that I've been awake at 7am for the last two days, which seems like a normal thing for a human being, but it's throwing a wrench into my typical habit of not even getting out of bed until close to noon. On top of that, I managed to get lost or miss read the map on the day the race was going through my home turf.

Today's stage began in a gravel lot right behind the Sheetz that is only about five minutes from my apartment, so naturally I arrived early to fuel up on some caffeine (unfortunately in the most disgusting iced latte I've ever experienced), and waited for the team and riders to arrive. The first leg of the stage ran right through my go-to hiking spot (mostly for the dogs), Shingletown Gap, and confidently volunteered to take the first enduro section, since it was just a short walk down the lower trail. I'm not sure why I was surprised after a half hour of almost running down this trail that I might have made it half-way to the enduro section before I decided it was better to turn around than try and hike the entire day's course.

The course today was a little rocky, to say the least. I was actually a little surprised that the race was going through Shingletown because of how rocky it is, which seemed to have a slight effect on the Stradalli team. The resident mountain-man Bob McCurty dropped a place to 9 of 22 in his division, and Cesar just wasn't taking any chances on crashing in the Shingletown leg. David kept his serious face on through the Shingletown section and again when I spotted him going through the fourth enduro.

After about 40 minutes of driving through the dirt roads in Rothrock State Forest, and murmuring, "where am I?" about a hundred times, I finally found the exit to the fourth enduro stage, while hunting for the second stage. This is the treacherous Wildcat Gap, and while trudging up the rocky vertical incline I wondered who was crazy enough to ride a mountain bike down this path. Sure enough they started coming. The first few riders flew passed, then came Bob carefully, but skillfully navigating through the rocks, shortly followed by David. Cesar was the next of the Stradalli team to make his way through the rocks, and now gathering of other riders at the finish. Tom brought up the rear taking a quick break at the bottom of the hill before carrying on.

Dust, Trails, and Spandex

It’s that time of year again. Spring sprung a few weeks ago and now we’re under the brutal regime of summer. So naturally that’s the ideal time to break out the the mountain bikes and blast through the trails of Rothrock State Forest. That’s the idea behind the annual Tran-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic sponsored by Stan’s No Tubes along with a plethora of other sponsors. 

 

With only a few weeks of experience trail riding on a derelict Wal-Mart bike in Colorado two summers ago, I still see myself as mostly an outsider to the world of mountain biking. Being that this was the first trail riding event I’ve even attended let alone documented, there were a few things that I expected, with more that I discovered.

 

What did I expect when I pulled in to the Seven Mountains Scout Camp that served as the event’s headquarters. The spandex is something that I knew was coming. Also with a few years of working for Trek in their distribution center in New Jersey, I could generally tell that most of the bikes on the trail today probably cost close to the value of my Mini Cooper, which I discovered can handle the rugged gravel roads almost as well as the Subaru Forester that I followed to the different shooting locations. 

 

Today was also a learning experience for me. For instance, I now have a vague idea what an “enduro” is, and I’ve discovered the many roads leading through Rothrock that I had no idea even existed until today, after spending the last three years living almost right next to them. I’m not sure that I’ll ever have the opportunity to use them ever again, unless I finally buy myself a mountain bike and decide to take on some of the stages myself someday.

 

 

My part in this literal epic mountain biking excursion is mostly my photographic skills focused mostly on the Stradalli racing team who made their way up from Miami to Centre County for the Single Track Summer Camp. To add to the list of the unexpected, I was not expecting the immense team RV, or the warning of the vicious attack dog guarding the door, Princess.

 

Princess’ owner, as well as owner of the RV and Stadalli itself Tom Steinbacher invited me in to the RV to line up a few portraits, and prep shots with the rest of the team before heading to the rider’s meeting at the camp’s main lodge.

 

Making up the rest of the Stradalli team is Bob McCarty, Cesar Grajales, and David Herrera. In today’s stage McCarty held on to his 8th place overall slot with a 2:48, 

 

 

and Grajales rose to the top of the Solo Men 40+ division with a 3:06.

Herrera crossed the finish line around 1pm, and Steinbacher brought up the rear. “I would have gotten a great time, but I saw a squirrel on the course and made a splint for it’s broken leg and wrestled off a few bears while I was stopped” 

 

After today’s experience, I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to make the first day of the event, but I still have another three days at the summer camp with the team.

 

  

What's to Come

With spring break rapidly approaching there are a few things that I'm really looking forward to, which are almost completely different from the cruises and other exotic locations filled with bars and beaches that are the typical anticipation of a college spring break. I'm actually looking forward to going home to South Jersey for a little bit. First, because my license expired on Monday, and how am I supposed to head to the bars if I can't even get in. I guess the fact that I'm not really supposed to be driving around, but that's besides the point. I guess the best way to really describe what I'm preparing for photo-wise is to just run down the list:

1. I'm finally going to have some spare time to do some more hobby shooting. I've been missing shooting around the city, just taking some photos of architecture, industrial, and hopefully some cars. 

2. After some discussion in my Comm 481, Multimedia Reporting, class, I really would love to return to my photo, now turning to a multimedia piece about homeless in Philadelphia. To give you some background, I originally began the story as part of a class devoted specifically to photo stories. Unfortunately, logistics just didn't work out, but I've been dying to finish it. But now I'll be back in the area for more than a week, I'm hoping that I can at least do some recon to find a good character to drive the story. But to give you an idea on what I've already shot for the project: 

3. Money. I'd say it's one of the best motivators. To elaborate, I picked up a gig next weekend working with a production company to shoot photos of a dance competition. I'm always very eager to be actually working with my camera. But it looks like I'm going to have two weekends of dance, covering both Infusion as well as a ballroom dancing competition the weekend after spring break. 

Just wanted to give an update on what's to come, as always keep an eye out for new galleries on the Collegian website from me, specifically from the men's basketball game tomorrow.

 

Today's Shoots

Aaron Hreczkosiej, left, and Michael Dunn, right, pump up the crowd at Indigo Night Club during The Lava Game's performance on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016.

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