Vicki Barclay: Thawing out as training heats up for TSE

By Vicki Barclay. Photo courtesy of Dave MacElwaine.

One of the things I love about mountain biking is the way that people refer to trails as if they are living entities. I often hear local people here in State College talking about how the harsh winters in Pennsylvania allow the trails to “get a rest” under the blankets of snow, like a sleeping beast waiting for spring.

There are certain trails that are named after people whom I have never met, but I always end up judging the personality of the actual person based on the features of the trail (grumpy, relaxed, fun, etc.)

I reckon Mike Kuhn made a good choice using the trails around State College to host the Trans-Sylvania Mountain Bike Epic. The local community—especially Nittany Mountain Bike Association—is so deeply connected and proud of its trails that it works hard to ensure that visitors get to experience all the personalities that the trails will throw at them across the week.

The new enduro stage at the 2013 edition of TSE will be sure to challenge even the local racers like myself, as we will be forced to race down some of those trails best known for having particularly unforgiving personalities. I often ride past Wildcat Trail with eerie avoidance, opting for a gentler ride down the mountain on the next trail.

Watching motocross racing last night, and checking out their training regimes, got me thinking as to whether I should continue with my upper body workouts right up until TSE to try and preserve some strength for the middle of the week enduro stage. It’s cool to think there will be a day that might involve more arms and guts than legs and lungs.

Regardless, the Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team will be in good shape for the enduro stage with our Cannondale full suspension bikes, full face Uvex helmets, variety of choice in Kenda tires that we can run at ridiculously low pressures, and feathery Magura brakes. My money is on my teammate Sue Haywood—be afraid be very afraid.

With the snow gone, and the race trails clear, it’s really time to start stepping it up a gear in preparation for May. I always find it so hard to judge whether I am fitter coming off a milder winter when I have been able to ride outside, but have been less structured, or one where I have been forced to kill myself in the basement on the trainer.

Sure there are watts and numbers and bells and whistles, but if you can’t put it all together on race day it means nothing. So far this year, I feel like the winter conditions have held me back from putting things together on race day, so I am looking forward to this journey through spring on the way to TSE. I hope you can join me.