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.