Mike’s Fav’s of 2013

By January 27, 2014Blog, Race News

As we’re rolling out the new site we’ve been trying organize all sorts of things. Found a couple pics from the year that got me all verklempt.


I love this pic. This is how we do. 100 wide at the biggest International Intergalactic Global Open Relay yet. At the farm. 400 of you showed up to help us get things rolling last April. I love this thing. I love that no one, including me, has any idea who will win until we add up the points. I love that it makes no difference and everyone goes as hard as they can anyway. I love that at the end of the day we add it all up and everyone is happy about who won.

Are you paying attention? This is one race for everyone. It is one category for everyone. And everyone does nothing but love it. Do we need 30 categories or do we just need to remember the that we love riding and racing and who cares if we’re the fastest 35 year old on a modified 1×4 fat bike with a total combined weight of 12.8571 stone on a Sunday? What would it be like we all just went out and all raced each other regardless of age and class and number of gears and had beers after? I’m gonna guueesssss,fun. (And yea, I’m opinionated.) This could well be my favorite event of the year.

BTW, “regular” ‘cross needs to figure out that this is the way to start races. We’ve done it at Iron Cross, here and at SSCXWCPhilly. It has worked like a charm every time. We’ll do it again on April 5 and add it to this year’s relaunched International Intergalactic ‘Cross Relay (Aug 24, book your flights). Screw tradition. Let’s add some goodness. Someone tell Sven, I hear he’s looking for ways to make short-cross better. (I got another idea too, stop doing just short ‘cross races with all three of your fancy pants ‘cross bikes. Hell that new thing Sven is riding screams ultracross!)

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Then we went to the fourth running of the Trans-Sylvania Epic. TSEpic is basically the same age as my oldest son, Braden (though I started planning for TSEpic long before we were blessed with our boys) and it feels like another kid. And it has been great to watch it grow. To be where we are is pretty wonderful. To know where we want to go means a lot more work. These pics are from stage 7 and reflect how I feel at the end of the week – pretty damn happy.* When Ray and I started we wanted to put something together that was like the events we loved doing back in the day – great racing and a lot of fun.

If you’ve not heard, Ray has decided to focus his energies elsewhere starting this year. He and Nancy welcomed their second child earlier this year and he’s been juggling two jobs – this monstrosity and the one that gives him a paycheck – for years. I’ve been working on assembling a team to help me but I’m going to miss Ray. He and I worked together for close to 10 years spanning the visitPA.com team and the first few years of TSEpic. Trans-Sylvania would not be what it is without the work he did. Hell, I might not even still be in the sport were it not for him asking me to get involved in a team he was forming a decade ago (which turned into visitPA). Funny how these things work I guess.

So, new things to come with TSEpic this year with some additions in store for the week and even more ways to take part in the fun. To spend a week with everyone who comes out is a real thrill and I appreciate every one of you who have chosen to take the trip. I hope more of you do because it is a heck of a good time. I think this is probably my favorite event each year.

*Except my buddy Joel who is not quite smiling. He’s one of my oldest friends, like early high school old, and he did TSEpic this year in memory of a friend he lost in combat in Iraq, Chris Seifert. Joel and his friend were part of the first wave of troops to enter Baghdad. This pic was the for the story in Dirt Rag about riding in memory of Chris. TSEpic was a big ask for Joel. Its not that he wasn’t in shape. It was however that he was a triathlete. Nice work my friend. I’m still impressed.

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We went off to Lykens next for the Rattling Weekend and this could absolutely be my favorite event of the year. First, I get to ride up there a bit to set things up and as I don’t get to ride much these days I really enjoyed the peace found being on some of the very best trails I’ve ever ridden, all by myself.  The race itself went great and then I spent an extra night camping out with my family and some great people like John and Becky Davidson, Jonesy and Kristy. These are some of the people who I rely on to make the events happen and without them I couldn’t do what I do. It was really nice to not have an event bearing down on us and to spend some time just relaxing around the fire. You should join us this year. Aug 9-10 weekend. Plus John keeps some Wild Turkey American Honey handy at all times in case of emergency.

These trails are not as near and dear to my heart as those at the farm, but there is something about the town and valley that makes me want to take this gem of system and figure out a way to turn it into something positive for these communities; to vastly expand the network and link the whole region together. When the coal moved out in the 70’s and early 80’s the valley diminished — the recession here has been a lot longer than one president’s term. Maybe I want to do this because I think “it” can happen here; that 80-100 miles of trails are eventually possible in a way that links communities here together like no where else in the east; that outdoor rec can have a profound impact on the quality of life in this valley. I’d like to help to make that happen.

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Then I went and did it to myself again. Backed up a new event we added, the Great Gravel Gathering, with Iron Cross. Back to back weekends made for a busy end to the year, but it was good.

IIRC, Iron Cross was first. And we sure did mess with it this year. New start location. New layout of the old course. Re-introduction of some of the original elements. New climb to the finish. Foundry came on board and brought bacon which was awesome. Oddly, when it was all said and done what I heard from most everyone was, “I thought you were really going to mess this up with the changes, but this was the best course yet.” Which is totally amazing since I make all this stuff up as I go. I mean it is almost like we know what we’re doing, but not really.

We’re twelve years into Iron Cross this year on Oct 5, and I’m amazed at the events across the country that count us as motivation for what they’re doing. I hope that someday I get a chance to go try them out. Call it ultracross or monstercross, it is just damn fun and everyone should give it go. I just hope that we can continue to make Iron Cross one of the great ones, I mean it is probably my favorite event of the year.

gravel ahead 3IMG_6492GGG really was great. It was a new style event for us. No racing at all. Just working with our buds at Freeze Thaw Cycles in State College to pull together a great weekend of lots of ride options and enjoying each other’s company through a huge network of gravel road in central PA. It was simple and not only did my family come out for the event, but we got to actually spend time together and even ride our bikes in the midst of an event. Got out for some miles with Jonesy too, which was a nice way to put the season of promotions to rest. Seeing Braden ride a few miles of the Coburn rail trail on his own while Ryan got one last iBert front row seat ride on Kris’s bike is a memory I’m going to cherish for a long time. Laid back. Great weather. Incredible roads.Family and friends. You really have to come out here in ’14, Sept 19-21. I’d love to ride with you. Come find out why GGG was almost certainly my favorite event of the year.



Of course, that wasn’t the real end of things. We did get ourselves involved with SSCXWCPhilly13 two years ago (by taking an oath at Dave’s basement shrine to all things Florida Statian) and that wrapped up in December, or was it last weekend, or is it still going or could it be coming back as something new?  That weekend in Philly with a whole bunch of incredible people enjoy one killer event.

That thing was a blast, I mean it was, well, you know.

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