Rare Disease Cycling racers journeyed to King George Utah and Bonelli Park California for early season national series races to test their legs and evaluate the results of long winter months of training. The result was two first place finishes by RDC’s Cheryl Sornson and Gerry Pflug and a solid placing in the Pro Elite Bonelli Park short track by new RDC rider Cole Oberman.
True Grit Epic
Much closer to Las Vegas Nevada than to Park City Utah, True Grit Epic’s host city of King George is unusually accessible for travelers coming from the east coast. 2014 marks True Grit’s second year of serving as the season-opener for the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series, a mountain bike races series that attracts endurance athletes from all over North America to compete in 13 races in 13 different states. After the final race in September, the four division winners for the series will be crowned: Men’s Open, Women’s Open, Single Speed, and Master’s 50 plus.
RDC’s Cheryl Sornson and Gerry Pflug cashed in not only on their frequent flier miles to get to True Grit, but on their solid winter of training to take wins in the Open Women and Single Speed categories. The 2013/2014 winter has been tough on the east coast with near record cold and snow fall, but that fact hasn’t slowed either of the 2013 NUE champions from making an early claim on the 2014 NUE titles in their respective categories.
True Grit is considered the most technical race in the NUE calendar and has dry desert-like wide open spaces. The desert’s rocky terrain is completely different than the smooth trails of Salt Lake City. The riding is beautiful, but racers can’t really fully appreciate the beauty of their surroundings due to the constant technical demands of the rocks and sandy trail.
In her first race of the year, 2012 and 2013 NUE women’s champion Cheryl Sornson finished first ahead of 2nd place finisher Sonya Looney (Topeak/Ergon) and 3rd place Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing). With a time of 7:55, Cheryl was the only women to finish in under 8 hours.
In the Single Speed division, Gerry Pflug was challenged by 2013 rivals A.J. Linnell (Fitzgerald’s/Pivot Cycles) and Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot/Twin Six) but in the end “the Pflug” had an amazing day finishing in 7:08 for the win. Finishing second and despite finishing 20 minutes faster than last year, A.J. was forced to concede the win to the RDC rider. Ernesto finished third.
Gerry raced a custom Specialized Epic converted to single speed… a rig he dubs “the Epic XX1x1” is basically a SRAM XX1 based Epic with a chain tensioner and a single cog. Gerry may not be the first, but he is undoubtedly one of the most successful single speed racers to race a full suspension bike in a national single speed event.
USAC Pro XTC #2 – Bonelli Park
RDC’s Cole Oberman continued his Pro XTC campaign this past weekend at USAC Pro XTC race number two at Bonelli Park California. After suffering flat tires in two events at the Pro XTC opener at Mellow Johnny’s last weekend, Cole worked his way up to a strong 15th place finish among elite men in the short track. Cole describes the racing:
I had a great start from the back half of the field quickly moving into the top 40 of the 110 starters. I put in a few hard efforts over the first two laps and found myself in the upper-20s. I stayed on the gas closing in on my goal of top twenty finish. Unfortunately going into the forth lap I was beginning to really suffer in the California heat. I began to get the chills and by half way through the lap was feeling dizzy. I decided to pull the plug and soft pedals the rest of the lap drifting back to 54th place.
Not the finish I wanted but still a confidence builder as I know my fitness is where it needs to be to compete on an international level.
Sundays Short Track event went much better for me. I smashed it off the line, going from the back-row to the front half of the race before the hole-shot was over. For the remainder of the 25 minute race I worked my way up through the field, jumping from group to group until I was in the chase group behind the leaders. We tried our best to bridge to the front but it wasn’t to be. Our group stayed together until the last lap and I held on for third out of our seven man chase group. Turns out that was good enough for 15th place over all. Not a bad days work!