May 28, 2014

2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic - Stage 3

Nate continued to lead the 40+ event and Cam maintained his second overall in the U25 race after Stage 3, raced in an Enduro format.

The stage was described as:

"The 22-mile long stage 3 featured five enduro segments — for those who don’t know, enduro stages are roughly four to eight minutes in length, largely downhill and often technically challenging — and riders were only timed on those segments combined, not the trails to them and between them. The enduro segments featured some of Pennsylvania’s best riding: massive rock gardens; fast, tight downhills; and everything in between."
Results of the day are available here.

Cam riding a smooth section between rock gardens - Photo Courtesy of A.E. Landes Photography -

May 27, 2014

2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic - Stage 2

The Trans-Sylvania Epic Stage 2 served up 67km of rocks and climbing.  In the 40+ event, Nate came out in the lead.  You can see his post race commentary here (looks like it was a very hot and dusty day):

7 bottles of fluid, zero mechanicals and flat resistant tires (X-Kings) were his keys to success in the rocks.

Nate - Post Race Interview
From the race site, a report on the day:

"In the Masters 40+ competition, Nathan Ruch (Pure Energy Scott Elite Team) displayed the strong riding that led him to his 2013 victory and succeeded in winning stage 2 by a slim margin of seven seconds over Steve Mee. Third place finisher Mike Hebe (Team Novo Nordisk) crossed the finish line just four minutes after Ruch. The tight grouping reflects strongly in the GC standings, as Ruch, Mee, and Hebe are separated by a mere three minutes in the overall competition."

Jay crossing 3 Bridges trail

Cam moved up in the U25 category, after finishing 6th overall on the day, moved into 2nd in the U25 event, 11 minutes back on 1st and 22 minutes up on 3rd.

Cam on the podium - Day 2

Results are available here.

Day 2 race video is available here:,AAAB7-FKuHE~,t9-OE3xcuCZ3jfIJy82CcvltaZ4rsIGq&bctid=3589208255001

2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic - Stage 1

Follow Nate, Cam and Jay as they race through the rocks at the Trans-Sylvania Epic this year in central Pennsylvania.

The first stage, a 17 mile "time trial", ended with Nate in 4th in the 40+ category and Cam in 4th in the U25 category.  Jay is rolling the 5-person experience category.

Results are available here: 

And the news from the race on the U25 and 40+ races:

U25 men
One of the bigger surprises of the day came in the form of Payson McElveen, who took not only the BMC Under 25 win and leader’s jersey, but also the Bear Creek East Coast Rocks segment for the solo men. The 21-year-old Richard’s Rainwater MTB Racing rider is having a breakout year, with a sixth place finish in the elite field at the US national series opener, the Mellow Johnny’s Classic. Today, he took three titles at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic: solo men East Coast Rocks, BMC U25 general classification, and the Epic Team win.

“The team is a group that Colt McElwaine put together,” he said. “Some people are coached by him. It’s myself, Levi Kurlander, Cameron Dodge and Mike Sampson.”

As far as the Bear Creek East Coast Rocks segment, McElveen wasn’t expecting it, so it came as a pleasant surprise. “I wasn’t sure who was going to be swiping, so I figured I would the first day to see where I stacked up,” he said. “I think I might keep swiping!”

The overall BMC Under 25 leader’s jersey is currently in his possession but despite his early season and early race success, McElveen remained humble and said, “That’s a goal, but there are a lot of fast U25s here, Cole Oberman, Cameron Dodge… and I think I have a lead of only seconds, so it’s going to be tight all week.”

Racing within the solo men’s category, especially during the standard race stages where tactics among the men and the U25 racers will come into play, will be a challenge for all of the young riders, and McElveen is prepared for it.

“I’m really excited about it,” he said. “It leaves room for a story to play out. I’m happy to have it today but we’ll see what happens tomorrow, and I’m excited to fight for it.”

Nathan Ruch (Pure Energy Scott Elite Team) returns to the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic this year to defend his 2013 victory in the Masters 40+ overall competition. The defending champion encountered strong competition from David Thompson and Mike Hebe (Team Novo Nordisk), who finished first and second, respectively, in today’s time trial. Ruch trails first place finisher Thompson by just over two minutes. With the top five finishers in the Masters 40+ field separated by less than three minutes, current leader David Thompson will need strong finishes in the coming days to protect the leader’s jersey.

Video from Day 1 is available here.

Cam - Riding with Team Colt - On the podium after Day 1

May 21, 2014

Greenbrier Challenge AMBC - MASS/MARC 2014

Date: 4/18/14
Race: Greenbrier Challenge AMBC - MASS/MARC
Location: Boonsboro, MD
Conditions: muddy and messy, deep puddles and a axle deep stream crossing from the huge amount of rain that week.
 Riders: (Dylan (5th - Pro) Mike (9th - Pro) Adam Thistle (14th Cat 1 open)

May 12, 2014

First Ride on the 2014 Scott Genius 700 -- Initial Impressions

Date: May 11th 2014
Location: fountainhead park

Jeff and I (Mike) both purchased 2014 Scott Geniuses with 27.5 wheels. We are both used to xc riding and this was our first real test pushing each other on an all-mountain/enduro/trail bike (not sure what the proper definition is).  The Genius 700s have 150mm of Fox suspension on the front and rear and are meant to ride downhill fast and still be ride-able on ascents.

I'm riding a Genius 730 with Shimano XT and SLX components and a full Aluminum frame.  The stock bike does not come with a dropper post, but I purchased a Rock Shox Reverb and installed it on the bike.  I also installed a set of Continental Trail King Protection 2.4 width tires as the stock Schwalbe Nobby Nics did not have Snakeskin sidewall protection.  Jeff is riding a Genius 710 with full Shimano XT components, a carbon main frame and Aluminum rear triangle and a Rock Shox Reverb Stealth dropper post.  Jeff is riding the stock 2.25 width Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires (the Genius 710 version came with Snakeskin sidewalls) until he gets disc rotors to fit his Stan's Flow wheels and he can get his Conti Trail Kings set up.

The Genius has a lot of on-trail adjustability to get you along the trail the best way possible.  You have three levels of adjustment on the front and rear suspension, all controllable from a single lockout lever on the bars.  A flip of the lever moves both the  rear suspension from full open to half open and leaves the fork in full open mode. Another flip of the lever locks both the front and rear suspension.

In addition to the suspension lock, you can raise the bottom bracket and steepen the head tube by flipping a chip in the rear suspension linkage.  The bike can go from a super fast and stable descender, to a more responsive singletrack bike just through the flip of the chip.

Finally, the dropper post lets you get your weight way back for stable descents, railing berms, or taking jump in the trail, but bring the seat back up to climb or ride flat terrain.

In short, the bike is extremely adjustable to fit your particular riding style of the moment and can be quickly adjusted to whatever the trail throws at you.

First impressions: The Genius is very comfortable -- it feels similar to my 29er XC bike. The angles on the Genius are a little more slack than my Spark 29, but the sharper turning, smaller 27.5 wheels make the geometry feel similar to riding my Spark 29.

The Genius lets me take lines -- through rocks, over jumps and through corners -- that I would not attempt on an XC bike.  Further, the Genius is far more forgiving of rider-errors (because of the extra suspension travel (about 50mm more travel and very knobby and wide tires). And, with the dropper post down, it's easy to lean the bike more into long sweeping corners, letting you carve through turns that you can't do quite as well on narrower tires and a fixed saddle position.

For a trail bike it is pretty light (about 29lbs) but it is still heavy compared to the Scale 920 that I rode last year for XC races.  This year I am on a Spark 730 XC bike, and the Genius is much heavier so trying to maintain an XC-training and race pace up climbs can be really tough. I also found that the Genius 730 is so confident on the descents that I found myself pedaling to go faster in areas that I would normally be coasting or braking.  All that extra pedaling made the climbs even more difficult because there was less time to rest.

We were riding at Fountainhead park in Fairfax Station, VA this past weekend.  The trail network has short and steep climbs and descents in rapid order, so there is a lot of transitioning from downhill mode (fully unlocked suspension and seat post dropped down) to uphill mode (locked out suspension and post up) and back. I'm still somewhat new to using a full-suspension bike with remote lockouts and at first it can be a bit tricky to gauge if a decent is long enough to switch modes or wait to a longer decent because switching back and forth for every little decline or incline would be overkill and mess up the flow of the ride. I ended up spending most of my time with the suspension unlocked and seat post up. I only put the seat post down for longer descents and only locked out the suspension for longer climbs. Knowing what was coming up in the trial really helps and on our second lap at Fountainhead it was much easier to know what mode I should be in.

I will write another review later in the year after putting some miles on the Genius.

If you want to demo a Genius yourself, talk to AK at Pure Energy Cycling & Java House in Lambertville, NJ (Phone - 609-397-7008 / Web -  He can get you set up properly, like on this recent demo day at the shop over the past weekend:

Some photos from our ride...

One of the rock sections
Banked turns

Drop off
Skinny section through the trees

Considering a second lap
Though the spring growth
Leaning the bike more with dropper post down

Post up and climbing up a short, sharp climb

- Mike

Race Result Catch Up - 2014 Iron HIll & On the Rocks at French Creek Parl

Date: 3/23/14
Race:  Iron Hill Challenge
Location: Newark DE
Conditions: Extremely muddy and messy
Riders: Ross (4th - Endurance) John (8th - Endurance) Dylan (13th - Pro) Adam (18th - Pro) Mike (19th - Pro)

Full results are available here:

Date: 5/10/14
Race:  On the Rocks at French Creek Park
Location: Birdsboro PA
Conditions: Rocky (somehow it also stayed dry)
Riders: Jay (1st - 50+) Cam (2nd - Pro) Nate (5th - Endurance) John (15th - Pro)

Full results are available here:

May 01, 2014

Bike Line Spring XC @ Fair Hill - Race Report - 2014

Date: April 27, 2014
Race: Bike Line Spring XC at Fair Hill - MASS Series Opener
Location: Elkton MD
Conditions: Fast and hard packed
Riders: Open/Elite- Cam (1st), Jeff (8th), Nick (10th), Mike (22nd), Adam (38th); Masters 40+ Elite -  Nate (6th)

This was the first official team race of the year. Beautiful conditions for a race.  Cool, with trails that had seen a little rain earlier in the week, making the dirt tacky and mostly dust free.  An extremely blue sky.  Vibrant green grass.  Springtime, finally!

It was great to see Bart at the event with the Scott Sprinter van.  He had a Spark RC for folks to check out.

We lined up with 50 or more riders in the combined Elite and Elite Master's fields.  The field was so large that we extended over the road, into the field on the side, just to have enough room.

Lined up behind Cam
As usual in this race, the start was very fast from the gun.  We headed along a newly graded gravel road (it was kind of like riding on marbles), across a stream, then into singletrack.  The race is generally won or lost in the first sprint for the singletrack as the course is so fast, drafting works.  If you're not in the lead group and can catch that draft, you lose tons of time.

Sprinting from the start
Already back in 15th place, just 15 seconds off the start - I should have used a larger chainring!
Cam and Nick had a great start and got into the lead group.  Jeff was just a bit off in the next group.  Mike, Adam and Nate got hung up in the lead-in to the singletrack entrance.

Fighting it out for placing in the first singletrack section
Following the wheel into one of the few open field sections - off the the left, in the distance, is the lead pack
Trying to pass was tough. The wind was fairly strong, and heading into the new (and extremely green grass) was so slow, it was very hard to get around anyone.

Jeff got hung up in the first lap and Nick got caught up by a bobble by the other riders in the lead group of seven, kicking him out of their draft and adrift until Jeff's group of six riders caught up to him at the end of the first lap.

Cam's group was about a minute up on the Jeff/Nick group after the first lap.  Mike was riding his usual, start slow and turn in faster and faster laps, strategy.  Jeff took off after the Cam group going into lap 2 and eventually worked up to Jordan from the Giant Off-Road team (Jordan had flatted) at the end of the second lap.

It took a bit for Jeff to catch up to Jordan, but it was a good wheel to follow
In the third and final lap, Cam attacked his group and turned in the fastest lap of the day on the final lap, winning by about 30 seconds.  Behind him the lead pack exploded with the riders who had been riding with Cam lost between 30 seconds to nearly 3 minutes in the wake of his attack.

Captured the podium shot just a moment too late
Jeff couldn't quite come around Jordan in the final sprint and ended up 8th.  Nick turned in a very fast lap on his last lap to pass six riders and finish 10th in a 3-up sprint.  Mike rolled through in 22nd.

Nate missed out on 5th place by .1 second in a tight sprint for the line.

All, and all, a perfect start to the mountain bike season.  Couldn't have asked for better weather or conditions.

Most of the team made the race, but John, Ross and Zack were at other events and it will be good to see them and Dylan and Scottie at future races.

John was at the Chain Stretcher H2H series opener and riding in the top 10, until a mechanical took him out of the running.

Ross placed 37th at the Cohutta 100, the second stop on the National Ultra Endurance Series.

Zack was riding the rocky ridges and valleys in the Shenandoah Valley in the Stokesville-Douthat-Stokesville long-pull ride.

Dylan was finishing up final exams at Brevard before heading back to Virginia this week.

Full results from the Fair Hill race, including lap times, are available here.


Mike riding some fun trails at White Clay Park after the race (only a few miles away from the race venue)

Next up for the team is a split between the MASS Iron Hill event, Michaux Maximus (rocks galore) and the H2H Wawayanda Spring Cleaning series event.

- Mike & Jeff