Team RDC kicked off the race season in Richmond, Virginia at Monster Cross 2015. The traditional East Coast opener, Monster Cross is a fast, technical and tactical race that tests not only riders fitness but also their mental sharpness. After 50 miles of sandy fire-roads made muddy by a wet winter, it was clear that the team has been putting in the hard work over the last few months. RDC had an impressive first performance of the year with Stephanie Swan and Roger Masse taking the win in their respective categories and Cole Oberman narrowly missing the victory in the pro mens field.
With a combined womens and mens elite field making for a chaotic start, Stephanie Swan found herself riding in 3rd position early on (trailing Erin Silliman-Wittwer and RDC teammate Selene Yeagar). “About 10 miles in, I found a nice, small group to work with, and finished the first lap with them. Going into the second lap, my group dispersed and I found a lone rider to pace with: coincidentally – Erin’s father-in-law, Fred Wittwer. We rode together for about five miles. Eventually we came upon Erin at 15 miles to go”.
Taking advantage of Silliman-Wittwer’s decision to pit at in the closing miles of the race, Swan pushed on. “I crossed the line about five minutes ahead of Erin for what I thought was second place”. Unfortunately RDC’s Selene Yeager, who had ridden the entire race with a commanding lead, veered off-course during the second half of the race and was eventually being forced to abandon. This left the victory in the hands of teammate Swan who was happy to kick off the year on a high note. “I’m very happy to start the season with this result, and look forward to the rest of 2015!”
In what Monster Cross race director Mark Junkermann described as “the closest finish ever”, RDC cross country racer Cole Oberman took 2nd place behind East Coast legend, Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak-Ergon). “In the end I think I just waited a second to long to start my sprint. I think he got me by about a tire width”. To get to that point Oberman had stayed active throughout the race making sure to stay in the front group.
“I forced what ended up being the decisive move with about 10miles to go”. Taking advantage of his familiarity with wet east coast conditions, Oberman “(I) attacked in a particularly muddy/sloppy sector of the course. I had noticed on the first lap that the group really split up through this section and figured that it would be the best place to get some separation “.
In the end only Bishop was able to match Oberman’s pace. After repeated attacks from each rider in the closing miles, the race came down to a thrilling sprint finish with Oberman missing out by the smallest of margins. “I would have loved to have taken the win but I’ve got absolutely no shame in losing to a legend like JB. Most importantly I’ve confirmed that all the hard work I’ve put in over the last 4 months has paid off and that I’m heading into the big US Cup XC races in California with some really solid fitness”.
NUE Masters ace Roger Masse rounded out a solid opening weekend for Rare Disease Cycling by taking the win in the Single Speed Mountain Bike category. Starting in the massive 2nd wave Masse put an early focus on the crucial task of making the front group. “As soon as the pace vehicle waved us on, a 10-20 rider front group quickly formed. Within 10 minutes it was down to about 8 riders that included fellow single speeders Piki Danko and Brian Patton”.
After helping to force a brisk pace the group dwindled even further by the second half of the race. “By the time we got to the southern section again for the 2nd lap, it was just Brian and I (two single speeders) leading the non-pro wave”. Despite being held up by traffic at a road crossing, Masse managed to hang on, taking the win the the Single Speed MTB category and finished up 2nd overall in the non-pro wave.
Full results here.