Instead of a traditional recap, because by now I’ve already forgotten so many details…(Except drinking beer at Wegmans and the fight with the bridge ladies on the Enduro Day, the Singlespeed Grupetto on day 5, the day 6 ass over tea kettle fall in John Wert, the day 7 ‘parade’ and not enjoying the rave as much because of my stomach and my leg…) I’m penning tips on what to do, bring, expect, and otherwise for TSEpic. Ok, it all can be boiled down to 2 tips.
The first tip– It’s about survival… for the bike and body. Doug mentioned this to me more than once, for good reason.
Bike: I ran my beaut of a 44 Bikes, steel SS 34×21 with a Fox Terralogic set to 100mm.
-bring extra everything! wheels, pedals, tires, brake pads, shifty bits if you use those. Gary brought an extra bike to cannibalize…I promptly used the rear axle from one of his Chris King wheels. There’s a couple of really nice bike shops in State College but don’t depend on them to have a super specific thingamabob for your chichi brakes. I had 8 tires, 4 sets of brake pads, and our group had two compressors, tools for everything and a Jesse (who not only won several stages and placed second overall is also a mechanically inclined, freakishly awesome, bike wizard guru).
-when choosing bike parts to purchase/run at the race…über light is not your friend. Those extra little grams add up the weight for sure, but those extra little grams help bike parts survive…7 days is a long time to beat on your bike.
-Tires. Paper thin tires…need not apply. I run Ikons front and rear everywhere, at TSEpic I used Ardent/Ardent Race. There’s a couple of rocks in PA, Mike sends you through most of them. I brought 8 tires both new and used fortunately I finished on the ones I started with. Also, use a bit more pressure, as the week goes on your line choice isn’t quite as sharp and using a bit more air, while bouncing you more, can save you major headaches with both tires and rims.
-Gear. Über finicky is not über friendly. Lefty forks are pretty awesome until they are not. Crystal had to have her fork rebuilt after one stage and a fellow racer was able to do it. If you have said gear, come with rebuild kits etc as previously mentioned. I bought a droopah, specifically a Thomson, for fun and for the race…while not a necessity comes highly recommended. Some people used droppers only for the enduro day, I used mine all week.
-you should look over your bike every night. Remember the things that creaked during the stage and look after them, could be cleaning the seat post clamp, lubing a pivot or chain, or a ‘shit my headset is loose’. While bike knowledge is key and everyone should have some, you don’t have to be a wizard, Freeze Thaw will work on your bike over night and make sure it’s good to go…bring them beverages to say thanks and money for those replacement parts.
Body: I’m a fat medium, so large.
-Survival for me means coffee and if you saw the video of my cabin you’ll see I brought what I needed. I made a couple of Chemex every day, for Maggs Jess and I. Something about a morning cup of coffee in the woods makes me happy. Who am I kidding being in the woods makes me happy.
-along with coffee bring anything and everything you occasionally need. Have trouble going to sleep…bring melatonin, get stress related cold sores from time to time…bring Lysine, bring Aleve, bring apple cider vinegar, bring an eye mask, ear plugs, sunscreen bug spray, fan, real pillow, hand slave, etc… anything to make you comfy.
-bring multiple kits and get the laundry package, freshly washed kits every day (don’t overstuff the bag) We had a warmish dry year, but bring everything vests, arm warmers, multiple weights of gloves…it can and did rain (bring a boot dryer) bring extra shoes, extra lenses for glasses.
-Matt Ferrari gave me a tip to keep the energy level up all week…eat big immediately after the stage, and then when dinner was served a couple of hours later eat lighter and the things you normally eat to keep your body running ‘regular’. Drink lots and lots of water to help make sure you don’t dehydrate.
-Massage on the first night Buck is there book a time every night, or just a couple of nights after the big stages and the Enduro (you will have some serious arm and hand issues). $1/minute 30 minute massages + 5 nights + tip = $200…worth every penny.
-Foam roller, theracane, lacrosse type ball or whatever other recovery tools you have. You need to get kinks out and keep things loose…or by the end of the week they’ll be hell to pay.
-Squeezy Leg Bags. Before the race I got connected with Normatec and got an MVP system to bring to the race and demo. They. Are. AMAZEBALLS. I had at least 18 different people use them during the week (I lost track), 5 of the 6 SS podium spots demo’d them, Women’s East Coast Rocks winner, race photographer, videographer, a bunch of others and me.. all came away with the same experience. I used them in the morning to loosen up my legs before the stage, and again every afternoon/evening to flush out the nonsense and recover.
On two different occasions the really really helped. Jesse had an incident on stage 2 which caused him considerable time in the overall and lots of pain… he hung out in the boots for a long long time that evening, and recovered enough by stage 4 to win the day.
I went over the bars in John Wert, 18 miles into a 42 mile day, and leg whipped my calf into a rock. after that, I couldn’t effectively lift or drop my foot. I had to teach myself how to walk the rest of the day and riding bikes became a big one legged drill of a day. It took a toll on me like no other day (weeks later, I still have pain) When I got back to camp, I saw the Dr, he said something about tough to ride etc… but gave me a no further damage thumbs up and I hobbled to my cabin. I fell asleep, not recommended, in the boots for a spell and by dinner time I had graduated to limping. I hung out up there until my appt with Buck. On the table he mentioned that the boots had kept the muscle loose and helped reduce the swelling that he could do good work on the leg. I went back to the cabin and got back in the boots for a couple of cycles. When I woke up that morning I hopped back in and holy cow… those boots were amazeballs. Those squeezy leg bags helped keep me as fresh as I could be, and were instrumental in me being able to finish the race, for that I’m grateful.
I’m sending them back to Normatec, yes they provided me these as a demo a no expense, yes this is my honest opinion… yes holy hell I want them!! If you’re interested in them, shoot me a message I can talk for hours about them… and I can put you in touch with the right person.
All in all I was fresh-ish until post Stage 6, survived that and finished day 7… all that was due to making sure I paid attention to the little things and staying on top of them.
The first tip is – It’s all about survival.