Whew, that went fast! A lot happened this summer, and I haven’t checked in on here in a while. I put together a story in pictures (‘cuz nobody really likes to read anyway) that revisits most of the events I attended. We’ll start off with the Trans- Sylvania Epic, because I don’t feel like saving the best for last. The line up was stacked with fast pros and there was never a dull moment! I had some bright days and some dark days, but overall ended up pretty well. I finished out 6th overall for the week in Open Men, and 5th in the U25 ranking.

Who wouldn't <3 TSEpic?!

Who wouldn’t <3 TSEpic?!

 

The upgraded timing system this year was first class! Hands free timing chips mounted to your frame meant you could zip right through all of the Enduro and East Coast Rocks sections without skipping a beat.

The upgraded timing system this year was first class! Hands free timing chips mounted to your frame meant you could zip right through all of the Enduro and East Coast Rocks sections without skipping a beat.

I was stoked to end up with the #2 plate!

I was stoked to end up with the #2 plate!

Jonesy! Funny how the NoTubes tape perfectly matches the BMC!

Jonesy! Funny how the NoTubes tape perfectly matches the BMC!

Counting down to the Individual TT start for stage one. Shoes tight... check

Counting down to the Individual TT start for stage one. Shoes tight… check

Stage 2 started us out of the tunnel under 322, heading towards the lush single track in Coopers Gap.

 

Steep climb up Bear Gap trail on stage 2 had me feelin' like!

Steep climb up Bear Gap trail on stage 2 had me feelin’ like!

Stage 3 Enduro took us down the infamous Wildcat descent and the wicked rock garden at the bottom!

Stage 3 Enduro took us down the infamous Wildcat descent and the wicked rock garden at the bottom!

Even after 3+ hours of racing on the stage 4, the finish still came down to sprint between the top 3!

Even after 3+ hours of racing on the stage 4, the finish still came down to a sprint between the top 3!

The Stan's NoTubes Crest Wheelset are the perfect mix of lightweight and strength. They've held up to many beatings through rocks this summer!

The Stan’s NoTubes Crest Wheelset are the perfect mix of lightweight and strength. They’ve held up to many beatings through rocks this summer!

Stage 5 took us out of the beautiful R.B. Winter state park

Stage 5 took us out of the beautiful R.B. Winter state park

The Queen Stage 6 included some of the best trails in the forest; John Wert, Three Bridges, and Tussey Ridge.

The Queen Stage 6 included some of the best trails in the forest; John Wert, Three Bridges, and Tussey Ridge.

On the seventh day of racing, the pace did not slow down one bit! The start of stage 7 was ripping fast

On the seventh day of racing, the pace did not slow down one bit! The start of stage 7 was ripping fast

tse close up

Kuhndog himself gets thrown into the lake. C'mon now did he really deserve that?!

Kuhndog himself gets thrown into the lake. C’mon now did he really deserve that?!

By the end of the week, you make a lot of new friends!

By the end of the week, you make a lot of new friends!

 

After that, I took a week completely off the bike before getting back into the groove. Next on the agenda was the Big Bear 2×12 Relay in West Virginia. I raced the CoEd Duo category with my teammate Vicki Barclay. Both of us still feeling sluggish from recovering from TSEpic, we gave it all we had but it was not our usual performance! A wicked fast duo team of Cheryl Sornson and Cole Oberman were tough competiton and edged us out for the win. Vicki and I finished in 2nd place through rainy and messy course!

big bear relay

This makes me cringe!

This makes me cringe!

At least we came out with something to show for our efforts!

At least we came out with something to show for our efforts!

There was a long break from racing through June and July, but came back into swing with a bang at the Boston Pro XCT. This would be my first pro only race, with top racers from across the country in the mix! I really just wanted to get the experience of racing an event like this so I have something to build on for next season. I ended up 18th out of 30 starters, and was content with that for my first one.

Pro XCT number plates are nice!

Pro XCT number plates are nice!

It was pretty cool to be on the same sheet as Todd Wells!

It was pretty cool to be on the same sheet as Todd Wells!

Next up was some real mountain biking in the Michaux Endurance Series! The Curse of Dark Hollow is a technical course that was slow and muddy from heavy rains the previous week. It was also very hot and humid which played into my favor perfectly! I took the lead as soon as the single track started and rode by myself the rest of the way, and scored my 2nd win for the year!

So green..

So green..

2nd win at the Michaux Endurance Series

2nd win at the Michaux Endurance Series

One of my favorite local trails in Mt. Gretna, Trail 15 will challenge you in every way!

I just love the way the BMC Fourstroke eats up these rocks!

I just love the way the BMC Fourstroke eats up these rocks!

It was then time to fly out to Colorado for the Breck Epic! I was there two weeks early to travel around and try to acclimate to the altitude, in which I was unsuccessful. I felt very low on power/ aerobic capacity the entire time and my results were mediocre. However, it was still an awesome trip and I got to experience so many cool rides and spectacular views!

BikeFlights.com got my bike and anything else I packed with it out to Colorado safely and hassle free!

 

Snodgrass trail looking over Mt. Crested Butte

Snodgrass trail looking over Mt. Crested Butte

I couldn't believe the amount of wild flowers out in CB!

I couldn’t believe the amount of wild flowers out in CB!

I stayed in Black Hawk for a bit, explored some old mining country, and found more incredible views!

I stayed in Black Hawk for a bit, explored some old mining country, and found more incredible views!

 

breck # plate

The Breck Epic event tent was the best I’ve seen so far!

 

Breckenridge

Breckenridge

It's like being on another planet on top of Wheeler Pass at 13,000 feet.

It’s like being on another planet on top of Wheeler Pass at 13,000 feet.

Breckenridge is wayyy down there

Breckenridge is wayyy down there

Immediately after stage 1.. "Oh man, what did I get myself into!?"

Immediately after stage 1.. “Oh man, what did I get myself into!?”

As a “recovery” weekend, I headed up to the Osterling Farm for “THE International Intergalactic Global Open Cyclocross Team Relay Championship of the Multi-Friggin-Verse!” As you can tell, it’s a very serious matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Jokes aside, it’s just a fun way to kick off the cyclocross season in a team relay format (with a friggin slip n slide!). My duties for the day were to help set up the slip and slide, heckle riders when they don’t slide down it, and spray them with the hose no matter what they do. It’s a pretty good gig.

The slip and slide set up at the CX relay!

The legend lives on! Dave Black shows us how it’s done

 

The Shenandoah Mountain 100 was 2 weeks after the Breck Epic, and was one of my favorite races last year. I love the strategy and grit that it takes to be successful at these races! I started out fast to stay with the lead group, then settled into a very conservative pace for the entire middle of the race. After getting over the Death Climb alive and well, I knew I could throw down a faster pace to the finish. So I really kicked it from there on out and passed 3 riders on the last climb! Finished 16th overall in 8 hours flat, so close to sub- 8!

Labor day weekend at the Shenandoah 100 means 3 days of camping out!

Labor day weekend at the Shenandoah 100 means 3 days of camping out!

Had a smooth ride in the SM100 and shaved 30 minutes off of my time from last year. 16th overall!

Had a smooth ride in the SM100 and shaved 30 minutes off of my time from last year. 16th overall!

The perfect way to wrap up the mountain bike season was the Terror of Teaberry, the last stop in the Michaux Endurance Series. It’s probably the most technically demanding course on the east coast. In fact, Jeremiah Bishop once stated that mile for mile, it’s the hardest race he had done in the world! With endless rock gardens and huge boulder features, it requires 100% focus and great balance. On the starting line, a buddy of mine pointed out someone particular lined up on the front row. It happened to be former 6 time 24 hour solo World Champion, Chris Eatough! This gave me a little extra fuel to the fire to really pin it in the first few miles to get out front. That’s exactly what I did and stayed in the lead the whole race! It was great to finish the Mtb season on a high note, by sweeping all three of the Michaux races and wrapping up the series win. I couldn’t have done it with out the help from my sponsors; the Trans- Sylvania Epic, Stan’s NoTubes, BMC, BikeFlights.com, and of course my supportive parents!

The final event for the year is The NoTubes Iron Cross race on October 18th. Taking place in Williamsport, PA, it’s a 70 mile paved and gravel road course with a little bit of single track! Choose your weapon wisely 🙂 I better see you there!

I started off the Michaux Teaberry with a charging Chris Eatough behind me. Twist the throttle and don't let off!

I started off the Michaux Teaberry with a charging Chris Eatough behind me. Twist the throttle and don’t let off!

The trails at Michaux are so fun...

The trails at Michaux are so fun…

 

I went into the race with great form and rode very smooth and consistent, which paid off!

I went into the race with great form and rode very smooth and consistent, which paid off!

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Aaron Albright

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