I believe in the power of the bike. My first memories of bike riding were as a child in the late-1960's flying down hill on our family driveway riding an Original Big Wheel. That iconic red plastic trike with plastic wheels was not only my first bike, but my first single speed! Its best move was the sideways power-slide. This provided endless entertainment and my first experience with "road rash". It wasn't until the plastic Big Wheel wheels actually had holes in them did I migrate to a *real* bike, an equally iconic Schwinn "Pea Picker" which was the green version of the "Apple Krate". That's right, I was riding full suspension and a "one-by" drivetrain back in the 1960's ! That bike was my ticket to freedom and independence. I rode everywhere on this 44 pound monster. We've come a long way since then. In 2013 the Team CF primary geared race mountain bikes; the Specialized S-Works Epic and the Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper hardtail don't weigh that much combined! Despite this hardship, the process of riding was joyful and allowed me to forge a kinship with cycling and exercise that seems now as natural as walking or sleeping.
Being selected to represent as a member of Team CF feels like the pinnacle of my cycling life. My teammates are all incredibly gifted and dedicated athletes. I'm honored to be a small part of this group of people committed to the development of a cure for CF while we have some fun racing our bikes. At present, Cystic Fibrosis is a lifelong disease. I was pleased, but not surprised, to recently learn that the quality of life for those afflicted with CF can be improved through exercise. While researchers continue to search for a cure, you'll find me enjoying the benefits of exercise through riding. I believe in the power of the bike.
Aug 2, 2014. The Mid Atlantic Super Series (MASS) cross country mountain bike race series took a playful twist this past weekend with “Midnight at Marsh Creek” a nighttime start for what would otherwise be an ordinary cross country race. In the words of race promoter Leif Lucas, “Yes, you will need lights”.
As the only night race in the series, Midnight at Marsh Creek is a favorite local race in the MASS. Host shop Chester County Bicycles always picks a fun and challenging loop. The start takes you through a field and drops you into single track in the woods before leading riders out along a lake. The rains in the days leading up to the race ended before the 9pm start, but the damage was done. The slippery roots and rocks were more difficult to see and navigate in the dark.
Rare Disease Cycling was well represented with top honors in the Pro / Cat 1 Women going to Kathleen Harding. “It’s always a treat to see the lights of fellow racers making their way out along the lake trail.” described a satisfied Harding of her race. “The roots were slick and the rail trail had some thick muddy spots, but overall the course was in great shape considering the rain we’d had leading up to the race.”
“I tried to make time at the start and maintain that lead for the remainder of the race.” said Harding about her race strategy. “I felt strong and made time where I could on the downhills and the climbs and carefully picked my way through the spots that were more precarious. Getting to the ruins is always a big motivator as you know there’s a big party and cheering section awaiting racers’ arrivals. After my second trip through the ruins there were just a couple of miles to go. I pushed hard and crossed the line in the lead. It was a great event and well run by CCBikes. I’m looking forward to racing it again next year!”
RDC’s Jesse Kelly finished 13th in the Pro / Cat1 Men’s Open.
RDC Philadelphia regional rider John Giordano finished 10th in the Cat 2 30-39 Men’s category.
Aug 3, 2014. The Mt. Davis Challenge Bicycle Road Race is a 42-mile race that traverses the highest point in Pennsylvania, Mt. Davis. The course is lollipop style that starts in Confluence, PA and utilizes the hilly back roads of the Mt. Davis area and climbs to an elevation of 3,213ft. Once over the top it descends on the eastern side and climbs back up on Savage Road before returning to Confluence. Prolonged climbs and fast descents on some rough road surfaces make this a true challenge.
Rare Disease Cycling put it’s stamp of authority on the race with Stephanie Swan taking top honors in the women’s race setting a new women’s course record in the process.
“There’s some fast descents, but they go by too quickly and it feels like you’re climbing the whole race.” said Swan following her spectacular ride. “After a four rolling miles, the major climb begins to Mount Davis, offering little relief until mile 18 at the summit. After the descent down the Mount, riders circle back, cresting the same ridge on another road, but this time it’s “only” an eight mile grind, then rollers to the finish with a few nasty inclines thrown in.”
The women raced together with the masters 45 and older in a pack of about 50 riders that included Rare Disease Cycling’s Gerry Pflug. “I weaved up to the head of the race and watched as Frankie Ross, Sette Nova, led a steady charge up the base of the Mount, as Gerry Pflug, Gunnar Shogren , and four other male riders matched his pace.” described Swan of the selection that began at the base of Mt. Davis as the climbing began. “Soon, I could not hold their tempo, and after getting dropped, sprinting back on, and getting dropped a mile later, I decided to go at my own speed in no man’s land. Luckily, two of the men ahead fell off the lead group, another two riders caught up, and I found myself in a cooperative group of four masters plus me. We rode together most of the way, with one rider from Maryland getting away in the last few miles, and another dropping off behind us.”
Swan, who was the top women, finished for 8th overall in the combined masters/women’s field, was the “Queen of the Mountain” (first women to top Mount Davis) and set a new women’s course record and… “For fun, I sprinted ahead of the final two riders I was with” said Swan describing the finish. Kellie Strang finished second and Patricia George third.
“It’s a shame we did not have a bigger women’s field” reflected Swan. “but I will do everything I can to spread the word for next year. Wonderful to have such a beautiful and challenging race, practically in my backyard!”
RDC’s Gerry Pflug who’s known more for his successes in endurance mountain bike racing, opted to stay close to his Connellsville, PA home and race the Masters 45+ at Mt. Davis. “Gunnar, Frankie Ross and I got into an early break on the first major climb in the 40 mile race.” recounted Pflug of the Masters event. “Eventually, one guy fell from the group and the remaining four of us continued riding at a fast clip. I tried to get away a few times, but was chased down on every attempt.”
The race came down to a sprint finish, and since Gerry’s focus is that of an endurance racer, he did not have the sprint to contest the finish and ended up 4th. “It was my first road race since doing the same race last year. I had a great time and got in a good speed workout!” Frankie Ross (Allegheny Cycling Association) finished first, Kevin Westover (Spokes-N-Skis Racing) second, and Gunnar Shogren (Pathfinder of WV) third.
Tanguy 3rd, Spreng 4th, Pflug 5th in Open Men. Masse moves into Masters NUE series lead.
July 26, 2014. A small river-side park in the small central Pennsylvania town of Coburn was once again the center of the endurance mountain bike universe this past weekend as the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series resumed. The 14th annual Wilderness 101 reminded riders how tough east coast riding can be. Rare Disease Cycling made it’s presence felt in a very competitive open men’s category by taking three of the five top spots.
The course of “The 101” follows primarily gravel roads and rocky single track of the Rothrock and Bald Eagle State forests that eventually carries riders to over ten thousand feet of climbing. Yes, there is climbing, but the terrain feature that everyone talks about following the race is the glorious technical rocky single track.
Winning this year’s edition was ShoAir Cannondale rider Jeremiah Bishop. Second place went to one of Jeremiah’s training partners, Cannondale/Carytown Bikes p/b Battley Harley rider Keck Baker. RDC’s Christian Tanguy who’s had limited racing time this year with the birth of his second child managed third place. “I made a good tempo on the climb right after aid #1 and made the junction to the lead group. Only Jeremiah and single speed winner followed me.” said Tanguy about his surge on the first real bumpy sustained climb of the course. “I went again to the front on the major climb after aid #2. This time only Jeremiah and Keck Backer followed me. Jeremiah gapped us on the following technical downhill, that was the last time we would see him.”
Tanguy began to lose his A game in one of the hardest part of the course, the technical single track between Aid3 and Aid4. “In the climbs, I kept a good pace going but I was starting to run on empty.” said Tanguy about his slight unraveling. “Once we reached the longer batch of single track I was extremly tired and rode a very slow pace. Of course, Keck disappeared quickly in front of me. Only by aid #4, I started to pick up the pieces. I am glad I rallied the finish line after feeling so tired couples hours prior.”
RDC’s Rob Spreng rode a strong race to finish 4th just ahead of teammate Pflug and single speed leader Wadsworth. “Christian attacked and Christian blew it apart” said Spreng describing his teammate on the Greenlee climb right after Aid2. “I caught up to (Single Speeder) Gordon Wadsworth and we came out on the road together. We rode together until the descent leading down to Aid3. We worked together the little that we could.” explained Spreng of the awkward alliance. ” …but single speeds and gears do not mix to well on the roads.”
Spreng descended the Ruff Gap Trail to Aid3 before Gordon and the rest of his race was alone. “I felt good and just kept climbing and descending as consistently as possible. Yeah, with the field that was there, I was happy with 4th to those guys.” concluded Spreng about his day.
RDC’s Gerry Pflug rounded out the open podium in 5th place. “Early in the race, Rob and I were riding at the front of the pack, as it seemed to be on Jeremiah Bishop watch” said Pflug referring to the relatively slow pace for the rather large lead peloton for the first 20 miles. Everyone it seemed was unwilling to expend energy fearing a surge from the ShoAir rider who was fresh off a 3rd place Pro Men’s finish at USAC Mountain Bike Nationals.
The men from Rare Disease Cycling, however, had something the other riders didn’t have: three strong riders right up front willing to work as a team. “I told Rob to roll off the front to see if he could get a gap.” described Pflug about their early breakaway. Spreng did get a gap and Pflug bridged up. A few seconds latter, Keck Baker and two other riders joined the pair from RDC. “Our group worked well together and stayed clear until the top of the rocky climb after check point #1”. At that point they were joined by Tanguay, Bishop and (eventual Single Speed winner) Gordon Wadsworth.
The group of seven stayed together until the Greenlee climb right after Aid2. “Christian splintered the pack with his power.” said Pflug of the Tanguy attack. “I rode alone from that point until check point #5, where I caught Anthony Grinnell and moved into fifth place”.
Interestingly enough, despite riding on a geared bike this year, Gerry’s time was 12 minutes slower than my last year’s Wilderness 101 singlespeed finishing time. “My guess is that this was because of still being tired from doing the High Cascades 100 last weekend.” said Pflug when asked about the time difference. “It was very cool to see team RDC taking three of the top five positions on the podium”.
In the open women’s category, the absence of local powerhouses Vicki Barclay (NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) and Rare Disease Cycling rider Cheryl Sornson, the door was opened up for a win by Toasted Head rider Melissa Nash Mertz. Mertz, who finished 4th in her age group the week prior at USAC Mountain Bike Nationals, has appeared on several prominent podiums in 2014. “Just won Wilderness 101! Yeah, I’m pretty stoked!” declared an excited Missy Nash following her win.
Blue Ridge Cyclery rider Gordon Wadsworth showed up big time at the 101 to take the single speed division win and 5th place overall. “This one hurt me a little but was definitely a good ride.” said Wadsworth of his race. Second place went to Donald Powers (ProBikes/Twin6). Finishing in third place was Toasted Head’s Dan Rapp.
In the Master’s category, RDC rider Roger Masse’s plan to capture a 3rd NUE win for 2014 came undone starting with a flat tire at mile 70. The win went to Toasted Head rider and Boalsburg PA native Jim Mathews who was also just crowned the USAC MTB National champion in his age group the week prior. Second place went to Boston MA rider Mike Ramponi. “I was riding with or just ahead of Jim for much of the first half of the race.” described Masse about his day. “We were with a group that was going pretty hard up the Greenlee climb… It was getting to be too much time above threshold for me and I knew we still had 4 hours of racing, so I backed off and Jim climbed away and got a gap.”
“My plan was to ride my race and not his and assume he would fade towards the end.” described Masse of his plan to regain the lead. Those plans changed on one of the trickiest descents in the race just before Aid4 on the trail called “No Name”. “I had been riding really the best parts of the course between Aid3 and Aid4 with Toasted Head rider Jim Mayuric. We were really starting to run on all cylinders and having some fun. Then on the last knarly bit of “No Name” my rear tire went flat right in front of the crowd.”
To make matters worse, Masse flatted a 2nd time at mile 85 and a third and forth time trying to limp into Aid5 for more Air. “That’s the last time I race with just a quick fill and no emergency pump” said Masse after the race. “I basically rode 95 miles and ran a 10K.” Masse finished the day in a distant 6th place but which was still good enough to allow him to take over the Masters NUE Series lead from David Jolin (Stark Velo). “I just want to give a shout out to the several riders who risked their safe passage by giving me an inner tube on Saturday. I owe each of you a tube and a beer!” said Masse summarizing his thoughts on the weekend.
Full results here. CyclingNews.com coverage soon. NUE Series standings here.
Rare Disease Cycling rider earns his first ever short track podium.
July 26-27, 2014. The USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Tour (ProXCT) resumed this weekend with the Catamount Classic held in Williston Vermont. With some of the biggest names in US cross country not in attendance, the Catamount Classic was an opportunity for young up-and-coming riders such as Rare Disease Cycling’s Cole Oberman to step up and try to earn a podium spot.
The course at Catamount was a combination of grassy Cyclocross-style rollers, buff flowing single track that featured man-made berms, pump-track style whoops, and wooden bridge crossings. The uphill sections of single track featured many short steep climbs that forced some riders off their bikes.
“I had a fantastic weekend at the Catamount Classic ProXCT.” exclaimed an excited Oberman.
The young Philadelphia rider finished in 8th place in the Saturday Cross Country event after fighting tooth and nail with Ryan Woodall (The Pros Closet/Stan’s No Tubes) and Mathew Waghorn (New Zealand National Team). “It was my first top 10 in a UCI cross country race and I couldn’t have been more stoked.” said Oberman following Saturday’s race.
It only got better for the Rare Disease Cycling rider as he put in an inspiring short track performance earning him a step onto the third place box of his first ever short track podium. “I bridged up to the front group after a poor start and immediately went to work trading pulls on the front.” said Oberman about the start of Sunday’s Short Track event.
“With three to go, I launched an attack on the climb and shattered the group.” said Cole describing the final selection from most of the remaining podium contenders. “I battled with Mitch Hoke (The Pros Closet/Stans NoTubes) and Sepp Kuss (BMC Project Dirt) for the remainder of the race. In the end I got out sprinted but still held on for an incredible 3rd place!”
Kathleen Harding part of 4-person winning relay team.
July 12, 2014. The Mid-Atlantic Super Series squeezed in one last event prior to USAC Mountain Bike Nationals which begins this week. Stoudts Village in Adamstown PA hosted The Stoudt’s Mountain Bike Relay, a solo and relay format lap-race which is contested over a 4 hour time limit. Fresh off his win at the Patapsco-33, Rare Disease Cycling rider Andrew Dunlap rode to victory in the 25 rider-deep solo division with 31 laps and a time of 4:07. Second place went to James Brower with 28 laps and third place Mike Melnick finished with 25.
“The race at the Stoudts brewery was all about attrition” began Dunlap speaking of the event. “Attrition of other racers, of the course, and from the weather.”
The course was a Stoudts Village was designed specifically for this race. Dunlap described the loop as “both fun and hard, all at once.“. Short laps made for a long day. “With the heat ramping up higher than I had anticipated, I began suffering early in the race trying to maintain a fast pace through the technical course, while trying to get enough water.” said Dunlap describing the the early going of the solo event.
“I was able to lead from the gun after mistakenly chasing some relay racers around the course for a few laps. That early effort established my gap. I tried to hold steady and stay focused on riding the course smooth and that made the difference. Without the Epic, I would’ve been much more beat up and unable to put in the final fast loops that got me 31 laps; good enough for 1st in the solo category!”
“The race was about surviving the attrition.” concluded Dunlap. “Thankfully, good hydration and the (Specialized) Epic World Cup kept me in the fight, and took me to the top.”
Rare Disease Cycling athlete Kathleen Harding teamed up with Michael Campbell, Jay Prudente, and John Miller to compete in the 4-person relay division. Their team, dubbed “TBR”, finished first the the 4-person team division.
July 6, 2014. The Mid Atlantic Super Series resumed cross country competition with the Danzeisen and Quigley Summer Sizzler held at Gloucester County College in Sewell, NJ. Positioned as one of the last big mid-atlantic regional events prior to USAC mountain bike nationals starting July 16th, the Sizzler is a final test to determine readiness. Rare Disease Cycling riders Cole Oberman and Nikki Thiemann answered the question by taking wins in their respective Cat 1/Open divisions. “Looks like I’ve finally got my legs back after the post Transylvania illness.” said Oberman describing the Norovirus (or something similar) that several of the Trans-Sylvania Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race competitors brought home with them in early June. “It was maybe as sick as I have ever been.”
Despite not being 100%, Cole stuck to his planned schedule and competed in the Colorado Springs US Cup/Pro XCT. “No, I don’t think so.” Oberman answered when asked if he thought he was 100% for the Colorado Springs event. “The altitude was hard to go VO2 in too.” referring to his inability to perform at maximal aerobic capacity. “After a totally amazing ninja start (from nearly back row to top 25 by the end of the first lap) the altitude got the best of me. I had trouble recovering from my first lap effort. My heart rate just stayed through the roof.”
“It was not the worst” said Oberman characterizing the effects of racing at altitude referring to the 6,500 foot elevation at the bottom of this US Cup/Pro XCT course and the roughly 6,900 feet at the highest point for each lap. “but it was super punchy climbing which was was harder than a steady threshold effort at altitude.”
Determined to get back to peak form in July, Cole capped off a great week of training by taking the win at the Mid-Atlantic Super Series Summer Sizzler. “It was a nail biter though!” describes Cole. “An early mechanical left me in 15th place. It was an incredibly long chase back to the front group and I didn’t make contact until the last mile. I launched a quick attack almost insight of the finish and held it to the line. Now it’s time for some quality rest as I prepare for XC Mountain Bike National Championships in two weeks!”.
The top-4 finishers in the Open men all finished within one second of each other with Oberman’s wheel crossing first at 1:38:05. Andrew Freye (Bike Line) was 2nd, Madison Matthews (Toasted Head) 3rd, and Mike O’Connor fourth.
In the Pro / CAT 1 Women’s event Rare Disease Cycling rider Nikki Thiemann was the best on the day with a time of 1:55. Hattie Freye was second at 2:01, and April Nabholz third at 2:02.
“I worked hard to get out in front right away since the trails are narrow and full of lots of short climbs and tons of tight turns-I wanted to make sure I could easily pick my own lines.” said Thiemann about her start. “Once I had a bit of a gap, I focused on staying hydrated, since it’s a notoriously “sizzling” race, and dug deep to build a bigger lead. I’d done a really hard ride the day before and was stoked to have good legs in the last race prior to nationals.”
RDC New Jersey regional rider Alan Moy finished 4th in the Cat 2 30-39 and RDC New Jersey regional rider Matt Kempler finished 5th in the Cat 3 30-39 category.
July 6, 2014. The Patapsco 33, the one-lap cross country version of the endurance oriented Patapso 66, which in turn is the light version of the 3-lap, ultra-endurance Patapsco 100. All three versions were held this past weekend at the Pickall Area of Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland. With 99% of the course being moderate to challenging root-filled and rocky single track, Ed Dixon and the folks from Adventures for the Cure have done an amazing job making the trails awesome and bringing this race to fruition.
RDC’s Andrew Dunlap’s last minute decision to race the 33 mile event turned out to be a good one, as he was able to give Rare Disease Cycling a 4th of July weekend win.
“I line up next to none other than Chris Eatough, former 7 time 24 hour mountain bike world champion!” exclaimed Dunlap, describing the staging for the start. “I readjusted my expectations and presumed it would be a race for second.”
Once underway, Chris Welsh, Eatough and Dunlap got an immediate gap in the opening single track. “Eatough and Welsh were taking more risks on the technical descents than I was willing to and were getting separation that I would push to make up on the climbs.” said Dunlap, describing the early moments of the race. “Then, unfortunately, Eatough flatted and had some issues with his flat kit, taking him out of our group. Welsh was up the trail a bit, so I dug in and pushed the climbs even harder to get him back.”
Right around the half way point, Dunlap and Welsh had slowed a bit as they rolled along some flatter sections of flowy trail near the river. “I came around him and put down a long effort to speed things up, thinking we might be leaving ourselves open to getting caught.” described Dunlap of the change of positions. “Immediately a little gap opened, so I drove it hard to see what I could do. Welsh didn’t respond and I started drilling the climbs even harder to make the gap permanent.”
Chris Welsh finished second and Josh Cauffman finished third. Read Andrew’s full race report here.
Rare Disease Cycling regional rider Joe Cummings 8th place in the Men’s Open of the one lap race.
In the brutal three lap 100 mile version of this Patapsco 4th of July celebration, the overall winner was single speed phenom and a clear favorite to win the NUE single speed series title this year, Blue Ridge Cyclery rider Gordon Wadsworth. Gordon’s amazing time of 9:20 was 11 minutes faster than this year’s open winner and last year’s defending overall champion Patrick Blair. RDC’s Jesse Kelly finished 4th behind Blair (Adventures for the Cure), Kevin Carter (Gripped Racing), and Paul Tarter (Adventures for the Cure).
Course marking mistake leads to “gentlemen’s agreement”. Juarez forced to abandon.
June 28, 2014. June has been a busy month for the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series. First was the Bailey Hundo in Colorado, followed by last week’s Lumberjack 100 in Michigan, culminating this week with Tatanka 100 in Sturgis South Dakota.
Nestled at the base of the northern Black Hills in extreme western South Dakota, Sturgis is harbors a growing community of endurance athletes seeking unparalleled scenery and challenge. Featuring a single grand loop, the Tatanka 100 course provides a mixture of gnarly single track and fast, smooth cruising. The majority of the course covers sections of the three longest official Black Hills trails: the Centennial Trail, the Deerfield Trail, and the Mickelson Trail.
Rare Disease Cycling athlete and last year’s Tatanka single speed 2nd place finisher Gerry Pflug opted this year to race a geared bike in the open category. “It had been raining for much of the night and was poring down rain as we began the race.” said Pflug about the start. “We quickly had a group of six geared racers, including me, riding away from the rest of the other starters on the couple miles of gravel road leading to the single track. The pace being set at the front by Drew Edsall and Tinker Jaurez, once we hit the trails, was a bit too much for me that early in the race. My legs were still feeling tired from doing the Lumberjack 100 the weekend prior and I thought maintaining a more consistent pace would be better than pushing my limit early in the race. I also had a feeling that the heavy rain falling and the muddy trail conditions were going to make the race a long one, so I figured conserving my energy would be an important strategy to follow to finish strong.”
Gerry’s strategy of early conservation paid off. “By the halfway point, I had worked my way up to third place overall and was feeling strong.” said Pflug about his resurgence. “I moved in to second place overall at the start of the Mickelson Trail and held onto that spot until mile 83.”
What happened next is what endurance mountain bikers have nightmares about, doing well at a race and realizing that you are off course. “At mile 83, I climbed up a long hill and came across the race leader, James Meyer.” Pflug said, describing his surprise encounter.
“He told me we were off course and needed to head back down the long climb we just did. While riding down the trail, we saw other riders following the misplaced course markings we first saw. Eventually, everyone turned around and we regrouped at the last marking we saw at a split in the trail. James Meyer had the GPS tracks loaded in his Garmin and it was telling him to travel down the trail marked with a “W”, meaning the wrong way.”
In what was apparently a course marking error rather than sabotage, the leaders corrected the markings at the bad intersection. “We switched the course markers, so no other riders would make the wrong turn and then began riding the rest of the course as a group.” said Pflug. “Edsall recommended that we make a gentleman’s agreement to all finish in the position where we were prior to going off course. We all then rode the next 20 miles back into Sturgis at a fast but fun pace to finish a very tough day of racing in extreme conditions.”
So the order for the leaders at mile 83 is how it would end: last year’s Tatanka winner and founder of the Quarq power meter company, James Meyer was able to repeat as winner, RDC’s Gerry Plug is second, and Drew Edsall third.
Sho-Air Cannondale rider and a favorite for a top-3 finish, David Tinker Juarez lost his rear brakes and was forced to withdraw at Dalton Lake Aid 2.
Full results here. Cyclingnews.com coverage here. Gerry’s full race report here.
Kelly third Master. Spreng rallies for 6th after mechanical.
June 22, 2014. The second of three races in the Michaux Endurance Series, The Curse of Dark Hollow took place near the Northern “Pine Grove Furnace” area of the 85,000 acre Michaux State Forest this past Sunday. Known for it’s rocky technical features and demanding technical terrain, Michaux races are not for the faint of heart. The folks at Gettysburg Bicycle and Fitness have been incredible stewards for the Michaux series for decades. Constant improvements to the Michaux trail system made this edition of the “Curse” the best one yet.
The overall went to Baltimore’s Jon Gdowik who not only possesses the great technical skills needed to win a Michaux race, but also the horse power. It wasn’t too many years ago that Jon was competing with the nation’s best semi-pro riders in short-track mountain bike discipline as part of the regional wing of the now defunct Trek/VW pro mountain bike team. A favorite to win any technically intensive endurance mountain bike race and a rider capable of challenging Jon is Rare Disease Cycling rider Rob Spreng. Spreng, last week’s Stoopid 50 winner, was “cursed” this week with a bit of bad luck. The technical terrain of Michaux took it’s toll on one of Rob’s wheels with his aggressive riding style. Rob was generously provided a replacement wheel by teammate Jesse Kelly, but he had lost too much time and ended up finishing 6th. Brandon Draugelis finished second and Patrick Blair (Adventures for the Cure) third.
Rare Disease Cycling elite women Cheryl Sornson and Selene Yeager were up for the task as they took first and second in the women’s field. Sornson, who went briefly off course, quickly recovered.
“Had a rough start. Gear trouble.” said Sornson about her start. “Stopped to fix and then with head down charged ahead to catch up. Blew a turn. Thought maybe course was changed but I was wrong. Went down a hill a long way and no arrows. Back up to get on course and then really had to chase to get back in lead.”
Second place Yeager rode her single speed in preparation for Single Speed World Championships in Alaska next month.
“I haven’t raced single speed since ’05 and I’ve never done the Curse” explained Yeager who indeed seemed to have taken on a daunting task. “so I had zero idea what to expect and hoped to just make it out of the woods in a reasonable amount of time. The bike is fun, but it forced me to race completely differently than I usually do–I couldn’t charge where I’d normally charge or spin where I’d normally spin. So I kept reminding myself to ride the bike I brought how it needs to be ridden. It was often tough, but fun. Having a hardtail out there was a little rough, so I lost time on the rugged descents. But I think I actually climbed some of the trails faster simply because I had to. Went off course once, but not too badly. Was very pleased to come in 2nd in the women’s class. I also learned a lot!”
Read Selene’s full race report and thoughts on racing single speed here.
Jon Posner (Race Pace) had a great day riding to second place in the vet class behind Dustin Sanders.
In the Masters 45+ race, RDC’s Jesse Kelly managed to pull off a 3rd place finish behind winner Jed Prentice (Bike Doctor) and 2nd place finisher Chris Newell, despite having participated in a difficult Hilly Billy Roubaux the day before. Jesse even managed to help teammate Rob Spreng after some wheel trouble. “I started pretty slow and two miles in I came across teammate Rob Spreng who was dropping out with a broken rear rim.” said Kelly. “Rob had a chance to win and keep points for the series and since we ride the same Specialized S-Works Epic bike and as I was just there really just for fun, we switched rear wheels.”“My intention was to quit” explained Kelly. “but as I rode on the broken rim back toward the start, I thought it seemed to be holding up. So I tubed it, kept riding, and managed to finish the race 4 hours later; coming 3rd in the Masters :)”
Tanguy tops the men’s open with Pflug landing 4th. Masse wins the masters.
June 21, 2014. The National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series is in full effect this month with several important series races being contested including the one held this past weekend in Manistee Michigan, the LumberJack 100. Known for it’s fast flowing single track, the Lumberjack is comprised of three 33 mile laps that eventually bring racers to over 8000 feet of elevation gain throughout the day. With few breaks in the roller coaster flowing single track, the Lumberjack requires riders to pay full attention to the undulating drops and soft corners. By lap 3, riders are both mentally and physically exhausted.
2013 NUE Open champion RDC rider and Michigan native Christian Tanguy was the fastest on the day with a time of 6:37. Second place and a formidable contest for the win went to fellow Michigan native Jordan Wakeley (Borealis) less than a minute back.
“Even the prospect of winning the $200 dollars prime for the first person to reach the top of the (Bulwacker) hill did not cause any erratic behavior.” said Tanguy, describing the first few minutes of the contest. “Jorden Wakeley started to sprint for the prime, I followed him closely just to make sure his sprint will not transform into a solo breakaway only 2 miles into the trails. With the acceleration, Jorden and I had a gap; a gap that got larger as we made our way down the hill.”
Tanguy tired and slowed on lap 2, allowing Wakeley to slip ahead unchallenged. “But like most things in life, you need to enjoy them immediately because they don’t last forever.” said Tanguy, referring to his 2nd lap fade. “With about ¾ of the 2nd lap to go, I ran out of energy. Jorden was riding away from me without even having to attack.”
Christian was able to recover by taking on calories at the aid station. “Maybe subconsciously I knew this condition would happen because I left one extra bottle of CarboRocket to drink at the aid station but not for carrying with me on the bike.” said Tanguy describing part of his nutrition strategy. By the start of lap three, Wakeley had increased his gap over Tanguy and lead by over a minute.
Christian finally spotted his adversary after chasing for most of the final lap. “As fate would have it, I started to spot Jorden at about the same location where he rode away from me.” described Christian. “So here we were, about 8 miles from the finish. Just like before, Jorden tucked himself neatly behind me.”
Christian was able to create some separation in the final miles that make up a hilly section of each lap. “With 5 miles to go, I saw a stretch of trail I liked and gave it a nice push.” said Tanguy “I glanced once behind to confirm that there was a gap. It was now a time trial to the finish.”
Just edging out RDC’s Gerry Pflug for 3rd was Jan Roubal (Velorution). RDC rider and 2013 NUE Single Speed champion Gerry Pflug finished 4th and rounding out the Open-Men’s top five was Matt Acker (Redline/Freewheeler Bikes).
Pflug, who took the hole shot and lead up the “Bulwacker” climb, just missed the $200 prime as Jordan Wakeley made a last second pass with Tanguy in hot pursuit. Shortly after the prime section, Gerry unfortunately caught a pedal on a hidden stump and took a nasty crash. After several starts and stops needed to re-adjust his bruised body and banged-up bicycle to be race-able again, Gerry was able to solidify his position in an elite chase group behind Wakeley and Tanguy. By the end of the first lap Tanguy trailed Wakeley by 15 seconds and the chase group comprised of Rick Mezo, Jan Roubal, Gordon Wadsworth, Greg Kuhn, Matt Ackert, Scott Hoffner, CJ Brish, and Gerry Pflug was 5 minutes back. When the leaders returned to the start finish area to begin lap three, Wakeley’s lead over Tanguy was more than 1 minute. The fast pace had dwindled the chase group down to just the geared riders trailing by eight minutes, as the single speed leader Gordon Wadsworth dropped to 10 minutes behind race leader Wakeley.
Read Gerry Pflug’s 1st person account of the race here.
Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery/Pivot Cycles) ended up winning the single speed division with an impressive time of 6:45. Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles) finished 2nd.
In the women’s race local favorite Danielle Musto (Twin Six) completed her 10th Lumberjack on this 10th anniversary edition and brought home the win in celebration with a time of 8:02. Karen Potter (Mtbracenews.Com) was second. Read Danielle’s full race report here.
In the Master’s race, RDC’s Roger Masse made it two in a row with a win here at the Lumberjack with a time of 7:30. Rudy Sroka (Team Lake Effect) finished second at 7:37 and David Jolin (Stark Velo) was 3rd at 7:39. Masse, who also won the Mohican 100 Masters contest three weeks ago, was pleased with the result.
“That was a super fun all-day single track roller coaster ride!” exclaimed Masse at the finish. “I had good legs at the start, but I really throttled back during lap 1 keeping a lid on my effort once positions were established in the single track. I’ve gone out too hard for this race in the past and paid the price later. My conservation seems to have paid off since I was able to keep my 2nd and 3rd lap times from degrading too much as they have in previous editions. This turned out to be key considering Ohio riders Sroka and Jolin were not far behind and I could not afford to slow down. “
“For most courses, substantial rain the day before the event would turn this cornering intensive single track into a slip-n-slide. Not so for the terrain in Northern Michigan. The rain actually improved things. The dry sandy corners were firmer, encouraging speed and confidence. I think the times were a little bit faster this year as a result. I’ve done this race several times and I was amazed at how different everything was due to the course being run in the reverse direction of what is normally done.”
RDC Washington DC regional rider Charles Buki who added the Lumberjack to the tail end of a Michigan business trip managed a solid 14th place out of the 43 Masters finishers.
Stephanie Swan second woman and Jessy Kelly third Master.
June 21, 2014. The American UltraCross Series continued in Morgantown West Virginia this past weekend with round #3, the Hilly Billy Roubaix. The course, a mix of gravel, pavement, and forest service roads, was made more difficult this year with rain. The venue at Mylan Park had extremely heavy rains both in the days leading up to and during the race. The “puddles” on the primitive roads near the little Indian Creek were as deep as the top of a car tire.
Michael Simonson (616fab.com) threw down an amazing time of 4:19 to tie the course record and to beat a hard charging Stephen Cummings (Team GPOA) in the Men’s Open division.
In the Open Women’s race, Crystal Anthony (Riverside Racing) finished first. Riding a mountain bike for the first time in an UltraCross event, Rare Disease Cycling’s Stephanie Swan was able to overcome the adversity of the difficult conditions to finish second among the women. Nicole Dorinzi (Pathfinder of WV) was third, Allyson Tufano (Sportif Coaching Group/Patapsco Bike and Sport) fourth, and Lesley Butler (Rare Disease Cycling) rounded out the women’s podium in fifth.
“Finishing in second place, at 5:05, I set my best time by 10 minutes, on the slowest conditions I’ve raced it.” Swan said after her race. “Crystal smoked the course ahead of me. I’m so glad she came! She provides a model of great strength and tenacity to follow. Looking ahead to the next four races in the ultracross series, I am sure that this race put some good fast miles on my legs that will help me going forward.”
In the Master 40+ men, behind Garth Prosser (Specialized SRAM) and Ron Glowczynski (BikeFlights), RDC’s Jesse Kelly finished third. Powerhouse Justin Pokrivka (Pro Mountain Outfitters) was fourth.
“I noticed as we hit the gravel roads and climbs a couple miles in that the leaders were not too far ahead.” said Kelly. “Last year at this point Gerry Pflug was already out of site. But this year, at 5 miles in, I found myself in the lead. I knew I was going to have to back off a bit though in one of the major muddy sections of trail that in the best conditions are a total mess. With this year’s rains, the mud was out in force.”
Toasted Head Racing’s Dan Rapp won the single speed division beating out local favorite Gunnar Shogren (Pathfinder of WV p/b Real Juice Bar) who was second.
RDC Pittsburgh regional rider Jeff Paul placed 16th out of 26 Masters 50+ riders.
Aaron Snyder and Madison Matthews round out the top three.
June 15, 2014 Boalsburg, PA. Shenandoah Mountain Touring, the folks that bring you the Wilderness 101 and the Shenandoah Mountain 100 host a 50 mile “warm-up” race in the Rothrock National Forest near Penn. State University. The Stoopid 50 boasts a course that is a combination of forest roads and trails, the latter of which covers most of the great technical riding in the Rothrock including the Coopers Gap area. Rob Spreng (Rare Disease Cycling) put his stamp of authority on the rocky, climb filled course early and eventually was able to pull away from all rivals and hold on for the win.
The action began early after a controlled start from Aikens Cabins to Laurel Run Road as the leaders hit the gas near the top of Bear Meadows Road to avoid congestion on the tight rocky ridgeline single track on Tussey Ridge. “The race actually started really tame up the first road climb. But once the beginning singletrack was nearing, the pace picked up high and never really dropped back down. I was second into the singletrack heading up to Tussey Ridge” says Spreng who trailed Aaron Snyder (Stan’s NoTubes Transsylvania Epic Elite MTB Team) and who was followed closely by Madison Matthews (Toasted Head Racing / GU Energy) at that point.
“After we dropped off of the ridge, There were four of us that were off of the front. Aaron Snyder was setting a hurtful pace up the climbs and we ended up a group of three shortly. Arron, Madison Matthews and I would trade positions with each other up until the checkpoint at mile 35. Aaron and I got out of the checkpoint before Madison, and he was not able to catch back on. On one of the last long climbs Aaron slowed just slightly so I knew I had to keep pushing hard to the top of the climb. When I reached the summit, I was alone at the front. With a gravel decent, one small climb and the infamous three bridges decent to go, I pushed as hard as I could to stay away from the hard charging “locals” behind me. I finished at 4:09 with Aaron and Madison coming in within a few minutes after.”
Co-ed Duo team win of Sornson and Pflug at Big Bear cap a successful weekend filled with team efforts for RDC.
Team Work was the winning formula this past weekend as RDC athletes spread out across the Mid-Atlantic to contest both individual and relay cross country mountain bike events.
Big Bear Lake 2×12
Big Bear Lake Camplands in Bruceton Mills, WV plays host to the popular West Virginia Mountain Bike Association (WVMBA) race the Big Bear 2×12. All races are comprised of teams of two, each doing 3 laps of 12 miles each. The prizes are large and so is the competition. Fresh off her win last week at the Trans-sylvania Mountain Bike Epic, Rare Disease Cycling rider Cheryl Sornson teamed up with Rare Disease Cycling rider Gerry Pflug who also had a solid prior week of riding, having finished 3rd overall at the Mohican 100. In the end, the RDC dynamic duo easily won the Co-ed Expert category taking away the $1200 prize. Cheryl describes the effort:
I was worried that I would flail at the 2×12. Having gotten bitten twice at TSE (race fatigue, virus fatigue) I was scared to push my body. Fortunately, by Friday I felt somewhat normal and confident that I could give it a good go. My first lap proved that I was ready to race again. I had a smokin time and did not feel too bad. It was harder to get the brain going than the legs. My second lap I thought would be faster. It was smoother, but not faster as time 2.5 minutes was added. Oh well, I do guess not being 100% would make you tired on the second and third try. Fortunately, my times were still best for the women and combined with Gerry’s smokin’ times got us the big “W” The Big Bear is an awesome venue and offers up a great time. I am so glad I went.
RDC Pittsburgh regional rider Mary Boone teamed up with Rebecca Browning to take 4th place in the Women’s Sport category.
Ramsey’s Revenge XC is a new event in Brandywine State Park that many hope to see added to the Mid Atlantic Super Series (MASS) next year. The course includes a combination of tight, twisty single track, long climbs, log overs and ripping fast technical descents. It was a bluebird day, and course conditions were ideal. RDC riders Nikki Thiemann and Kathleen Harding teamed up early to form a duo riding group in the Cat 1 Women Under 40 event and did not look back. Ultimately Nikki would win with Kathleen taking 2nd less than a minute back. Kathleen tells us about her day:
I couldn’t resist; I made a spur of the moment decision to enter the race. Nikki and I lined up together, the gun went off, and we worked together to create a gap early on. Truth be told, we haven’t raced together since last summer, so we enjoyed catching up on what felt more like a fast group ride than a race. After the first technical section of logs, we had a lead on the group and we rode together for the next couple of laps. Nikki pulled away from me during the last lap to win the race, and I rolled in behind her in 2nd. I’m so glad I took the opportunity to race this new course. It was well run and had such a great mix of everything. I hope to see it gain popularity and continue on as a part of the MASS next year.
RDC Philly regional rider Shane Pasley was 19th in the Cat 1 19-39 Men’s category and RDC Philly rider John Giordano finished 18th in the Cat 2 30-39 Men.
Photo credits for some of the included Ramsey’s Revenge photos go to A.E. Landes Photagraphy who took some great shots throughout the event and does professional photography for weddings and special events in and around Washington, D.C.
On the same day that RDC’s Cheryl Sornson won the Trans-sylvania Mountain Bike Epic, Ohio was the center of the endurance mountain bike universe as the third race in the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series was held starting in the small town of Loudonville on a beautiful sunny day. The Mohican 100 is the original 100 mile mountain bike race that inspired promoter Ryan O’Dell to work to create a national series dedicated to ultra-endurance. The course, which covers four counties and over 11,000 feet of climbing, has a little bit of everything: fast single track, rocky single track, fire roads, roots, off-camber, mud, and did I mention climbing? There’s over 11,000 feet worth of total, parceled out 300 feet at a time for much of the day. Rare Disease Cycling’s Christian Tanguy proved he’s still the man to beat with an uncontested sprint finish win over Sho-Air Cannondale rider and two time Olympian Tinker Juarez.
Christian, who lives in Michigan and grew up in France, and who speaks (and writes) with a French accent, gives us the details of his ride and eventual win over the Sho-Air Cannondale rider and mountain bike legend:
This year, with the birth of our second child, my racing has taken the back seat and so I came to this race not as prepared as I wished.
It has been a while since I’ve ridden 100 miles, so I figured I would try to win the prime for the first rider to reach the city limit. I was doing well until I got swarmed by a large group going twice as fast as I was. All right, it was not meant to be but we quickly regrouped at the top of hill and I ended up doing tempo with the remaining 600 riders behind. Coming closer to the entrance to double track there were the inevitable surges, but at all times I was in the top 5. When we finally reached the single track, I was 3rd wheel.
The trails are incredibly fun and if I wasn’t breathing too hard, I had a smile on my face from ear to ear. About 1.5 miles in, the second place rider had a flat and it was just the lead rider (who was racing the shorter 100k event) and myself. For the first 2 miles of single track, we could see the chasers about 20 seconds back but we were riding so fast that nobody bridged back except for Tinker Juarez.
I enjoyed myself a lot because those trails are not treacherous and have nice climbs and fast downhills. The trails and weather conditions were perfect especially in the morning hours when the temperatures were still moderate. The three of us stayed together until the run-up before aid #3. Our guide (the 100k racer) was fading so I kept going with Tinker right behind me.
Now on dirt and paved roads, I started to really feel the effort. On several occasions, I asked Tinker to relieve me at the front but he would (or could) not. After 50 miles, I was wondering if I should start saving some energy for a sprint finish should the two of us keep our lead all the way to the end. To address my concerns, I simply asked him (what his plan was). He replied that he would be satisfied to finish 2nd and I deserved the win. It kind of re-motivated me when I needed it the most, at the entrance to the buggy trail: a long flattish and straight trail that seems to have no end. I was satisfied with my effort: every time I looked down at my computer it was at least 19mph.
Nobody was giving us splits on the chasers so we were really on our own not knowing if I should dig super deep to keep the lead going or if I could get a breather. However, I was certain that none of the chasers will have a free ride as my teammate Gerry would make them pay should they reel us back. At some point, Tinker saved the day, when I missed a turn while in the “aero position” and steered me back on the correct route.
Until the end it was more of the same: pain! The legs were dead and at the verge of cramping, the back was tightening up but so how I kept it together and Tinker true to his words did not challenge me at the finish line.
I cannot thank my wife enough for coping with our 2 young kids at home during this weekend of racing. Big thanks to Gerry for keeping the chasers at bay and for team Rare Disease Cycling for giving me excellent support. My friend Chris Goddard from Fraser Bike shop fitted me to my bike this winter. Without his expertise, my body would not have been able to take the abuse. Thank you.
Next on the agenda is Lumberjack 100. Along with the Mohican 100, there will be the only two NUE races for my 2014 season.
The 2013 Mohican 100 overall winner (riding single speed) and five time single speed NUE champion Gerry Pflug decided to try and compete for the open men’s title with a geared bike, his S-Works Specialized Epic with 1×11 gearing and a 34 tooth chainring. Gerry had his work cut out for him as teammate Christian Tanguy and Sho-Air Cannondale rider Tinker Juarez got an early gap. Gerry describes the action near the front:
The race started out super fast and I was fortunate enough to enter the initial single track as one of the top ten riders. I don’t like burning too much energy at the start of a 100 mile race, however, so I settled into a fast but conservative pace with my singlespeeding friend, Gordon Wadesworth. We slowly but surely started picking off riders one by one and by checkpoint #3, 50 miles into the race, had moved into the third and fourth place spots overall. I made a quick exit at the checkpoint and was all alone from that point until the finish. I didn’t learn until the finish that Gordon mistakenly followed the 100K course arrow at checkpoint #3 and that he did not learn of his mistake until the last checkpoint. My Rare Disease Cycling teammmate, Christian Tanguy, and second place finisher, Tinker Juarez, rode a fast race together and I never was able to catch either of them by the finish. I’m very happy with my third place finish, though, and I must admit that using a bike with more than one gear for this race was a lot of fun and made the ride much easier for me than doing it on a single speed.
Former elite swimmer turned bike racer, RDC’s Jesse Kelly had a solid day finishing 12th in the open men. Jesse describes his day:
I felt stronger compared to Cohutta but still felt sluggish on the climbs and fireroads. But all in all I held it together, rode the singletrack well, and stayed consistent. It was great to see my teammates Christian taking first, Gerry third, and Roger winning the Masters. I feel like the season is just getting started! Mohican was a thrilling cap to a great week, including following the TSEPIC and the great performances by team RDC, and also picking up my USAC pro license following the XC race at Greenbrier.
RDC Masters racer Roger Masse took a small step in the right direction in the pursuit of a 2014 NUE Masters Series title with his first win at Mohican. Roger describes his experience:
The start is always tough for me at the Mohican, since position going into the early single track is key and I’m not a fast starter when compared to the top open racers. I was able to bridge back to the lead group after the hill climb out of Loudonville at the start and managed a decent position entering single track. I just tried to be patient and work with rather than against the riders around me. By mile 30 I was running on all cylinders and by mile 50 I felt like I had what it takes to win. Unfortunately, right then I missed a turn and did an extra several miles before returning to my mis-queue and getting back on course. This mishap dropped me to probably third position as at least David Jolin and Marland Whaley got by. Fortunately, I had the legs to chase and was able to reel them both in to regain the lead by Aid 4 and hold on to earn the win.
I don’t want to give away all my race secrets but it’s the little things that make a difference. My twenty pound Specialize S-Works Stumpjumper hard tail was the perfect tool for the job today. With all the short ups-and-downs today, I end up standing a lot. It’s really nice to have a Brain controlled lockout for the fork, I don’t even have to think. I stand and it’s solid. It also really simplifies things greatly to be able to take in enough calories for an 8 hour effort with just fluids via a nutrition strategy based on CarboRocket Half Evil. This is my first win here at Mohican and it’s made possible in large part by the great support we get from our best-in-class sponsors.
RDC Pittsburgh Regional rider Scott Williams raced the 100k event on single speed and was able to come away with the second step on the podium! Scott tells us about the ride:
As my first Mohican 100k I could not be more stoked on coming home with a 2nd place SS finish. It was tough keeping my single speed towards the front of the large group of geared riders from the long road start but continued to remind myself it was a long race and there will be plenty of time to pick through the crowd. Got through the awesome single track and focused on keeping my legs spinning through the gravel roads for a strong finish.
Full results here. CyclingNews.com coverage here. Video Highlights by Thom Parsons at Dirtwire.TV here.
Leveraging the strength of men in a mixed field included in tactics.
The ABRA Road Race Series (APRRS) got underway again this past weekend with race #4, the Fort Classic held in McDonald, PA. Rare Disease Cycling road racer and UltraCross specialist Stephanie Swan notched a win in the Women’s Cat 1/2/3 category, finishing an impressive 6th place overall in a mixed field with the Master’s men that ended with Stephanie in the field sprint earning 4th.
Fort Classic is a flat to rolling eight mile loop done five times. Despite various attacks and chases here and there, the group stayed together, as flat races do. It was only in the last lap that things finally got broken up. After two riders attacked and got away at four miles to go and anticipating the series of attacks that would certainly be coming, Stephanie wanted to be within the top five riders going into the last four miles. Close to the front at about three miles to go, with no riders were willing to pull, Stephanie rode a comfortable pace, listening for the sound of sprinting wheels behind. A round of attacks started with about two kilometers to go. It was rapid fire for the rest of the race but since Stephanie was so far up front when it started, she was well positioned to grab a wheel as the field got strung out single file. As little groups got shelled off the back as riders got gapped out, the woman closest the front wearing the white, blue, grey, and red of Rare Disease Cycling, hung on for fourth in the uphill sprint, earning sixth overall and first woman. When asked about her effort:
This race reminded me how much I like fast flat races – and sprinting!
Full results here. Read Stephanie’s full race report including detailed tactics about racing with men here.
Swan, Masse, Popovic, Hoffmann, Mika finishes contribute to a result filled weekend.
Perfect weekend weather in the Mid-Atlantic had RDC racers spread out across Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee to contest Cross Country Mountain Bike, Ultra-distance Mountain Bike, UltraCross and Triathlon events. In the end, podiums were decorated with the white, blue, red and grey of Rare Disease Cycling kits at the Greenbrier Challenge, the Wayne Ultra, the Mohican Cross Country, the Dirty Double Gravel Stage Race, and the REV3 Knoxville 70.3.
As the American Mountain Bike Championship (AMBC) Series Maryland State Championship Race, a Mid Atlantic Super Series (MASS) points race, and a USAC MTB national qualifier race, the 2014 Greenbrier Challenge in Boonsboro Maryland celebrated its 11th Annual running with a 450 rider lineup, cash purses, and a spectacular venue. For many in the mid-atlantic, the road to the National & Regional Championships runs through Greenbrier State Park.
The race course is 5.7 miles long, with 735 feet of climbing each lap. The trails are heavily wooded, approximately 60% old narrow double track, 40% single track, with the start/finish alongside a beautiful lake. Climbs are moderate, except for one steep climb, and are typically loose and rocky. 80-90% of the trails are well drained and rocky and remain fairly solid in wet conditions, and wet conditions it was! The one stream crossing per lap was hub deep and several long sections of trail on relatively low lying terrain were underwater.
The colors of RDC kits were literally everywhere as riders Cole Oberman, Cheryl Sornson, Roger Masse, Carolyn Popovic, Jesse Kelly, Charles Buki, John Giordano, and Rare Disease Cycling founder and director Dr. James M. Wilson each competed in various categories vying for a coveted step on the podium.
Cole Oberman lead the charge by winning a tough battle with Nick Waite (Pro Tested Gear) in the Pro Men’s category. What started out as a tight group of five leading on the first lap, by lap 3 it was just Waite leading Oberman in a two man breakaway, both men beating each other up, heavily anaerobic on the climbs. A last lap strong effort by Oberman on the false flat just after the long climb gave him some separation. Cole held on for the win with a 15 second margin.
In the pro women’s category RDC’s Cheryl Sornson bested Mid-Atlantic cyclocross superstar Arley Kemmerer (Sportif Coaching Group) for the win. RDC’s Carolyn Popovic rounded out the top-three in third. Cheryl describes her day:
I detached from the field pretty much early on in the first lap. Just tried to keep a good solid pace and work on some intensity up the climbs to prepare for Transylvania Epic next week.
RDC’s Roger Masse fought back from nearly last behind a tangle at the starting line to win the first lap in his category, only to give back the lead in the feed zone to a hard charging Ed Hein (Guy’s Racing Club). Ed was finally able to gap Roger in the same place that RDC’s Cole Oberman got some separation from Nick Waite… the false flat after the big climb. Ed hung on for the win with Roger finishing 2nd. Michael Funk (Mountainside Racing) was 3rd. Roger:
With 25 riders, the Cat 1 50-59 was one of the biggest fields. I got caught behind a guy who lined up in the front row and who nearly fell over trying to get clipped in at the start. I burned half my matchbook just trying to get back to near the front of the bike race by the top of the opening climb. By the rock garden it was just Ed Hein and Mike Funk ahead, by the top of the big climb just Ed. I caught and passed Ed by the start of the rocky climb and lead through the start-finish for lap one, but he was right there and passed me back as I grabbed a bottle in the feed. I dangled just off the back of him for too long and was only ten or fifteen feet behind him by the top of the big climb on lap 2. He must have sensed weakness, so he hit the gas and added to his lead. I had him in sight for the remaining climbing sections but just didn’t have the goods to bring him back. Ed’s a solid rider. I’m happy with 2nd, and to finish ahead of Mike Funk who beat me two weeks ago in Michaux.
RDC’s Charles Buki split the 25 deep 50-59 Cat 1 Men’s pack with a 13th place finish.
RDC’s Jesse Kelly finished 13th in the Cat 1 / Pro Open category. Jesse describes his day:
I was pleased with a 13th place finish in the combined Pro/Cat 1 Open category at Greenbrier this weekend, my best result in this MASS category to date. I qualified for Nationals and hopefully secured another step toward the Pro license. After making a profound cleat adjustment on the bike I found myself with increased confidence on the fast and technical descents. I’m still struggling on the climbs but feeling a lot more confident overall. Lap times were actually slower than last year’s endurance race, but conditions were slower too. It was terrific to see Cole Oberman get his 2nd win and Cheryl Sorenson with another victory. Not to mention the other great performances by RDC teammates, Carolyn Popovic, Roger Masse, Charles Buki, John Giordano, and Jim Wilson. Special thanks to Monica Butler for handing me bottles, and to Potomac Velo and MASS for their efforts in hosting a superb race day.
Team founder and director Dr. James M. Wilson had the longest day with the most distance covered by competing in the Endurance 45+ Men’s division. He finished with 6 laps at 4:12 for 13th place.
RDC Philadelphia rider John Giordano who raced in the Cat 2 35-39 finished 7th in category and described the day this way:
The overall vibe at the race was great, probably the friendliest vibe I have ever experienced at a mountain bike race in the 15 years I have been doing it! Some guys would pass me and say “great job” and sometimes I would pass them and they would say “great job” and there was some laughter and story telling on the climbs.
The Wayne Ultra is an epic ultra mountain biking race held in the foothills of the Appalachians in eastern Ohio. The short course is 20+ miles, the long course 40+.
RDC’s Gerry Pflug contested the open men’s division despite nursing a painful broken rib injury he suffered in a fall earlier in the week. Gerry describes his race:
With my rib injury, I decided to take the initial miles of single track at the Wayne Ultra a little more cautiously than I typically would at the beginning of the race. Meanwhile, two other riders, Justin Pokrivka and Ryan Miracle, were pushing the pace hard. I was pretty content to continue riding a steady pace with John Proppe and two other riders during this time. Eventually, though, I became more comfortable with the jolts of pain in my ribs and decided it was time to push the pace a little faster to see how my body reacted. When I came to a split in the course for the long and short distances, I asked a race volunteer how far back I was from the leaders. He said about two minutes.It’s hard to make up time on the tight single track at Wayne, but I continued to push my pace and eventual caught Ryan Miracle. He let me pass quickly and I then began my chase of J-Pok riding on a rigid SS bike. Since I was using my Specialized Epic with gears, I figured that small amount of time could be made up pretty quickly. Sure enough, when the trail exited onto a couple miles of gravel and paved road, I was able to increase my speed to about 23 mph and reel in my friend. J-Pok and I then rode together for quite a while, before all the long and steep climbs started to take some wear on my singlespeeding friend. I know at times the 34×42 low range gearing on my xx1 drivetrain felt like a little much on this tough course. I’m sure the 36×21 Justin was using had to hurt!
Promoted by JR Petsko’s Appalachian Bicycle Race Association (ABRA), the first annual Mountain State Dirty Double was held May 17 and 18 in Rowlesburg, West Virginia. Dirty Double is a two stage two-day gravel road race with a total of 72 miles and 8,800 ft of climbing. RDC’s Stephanie Swan finished just behind winner Ruth Sherman (Stan’s NoTubes/Corning Race Team) on both days for a solid second place finish among the open women. Stephanie describes her her successful campaign:
On day one, I got dropped from a small group, that contained eventual winner Ruth Sherman, on a very long rough descent. She was in my sights for a long time, like 10 miles, but she had people to work with and I was by myself in time-trial mode. I fought hard but could not bridge and ended up riding the last 20 miles solo. Starting day two just three minutes back on first place Ruth, I felt fresh and was climbing well up the first long grind. Unfortunately, there was a very long loose descent after the climb, where I lost contact with the race leader again along with the group she was with. The rest of the race I chased, mostly by myself, and held on to second place. The MSDD has put my training into focus: practice gravel descending for the next 5 weeks until Hilly Billy!
RDC Pittsburgh regional rider Lesley Butler had a solid showing placing 3rd on day one and 5th on day 2 for a 4th place overall finish. Lesley describes her experience:
The Dirty Double was my first ultra cross event and it was a truly fabulous experience. The course was a challenging mix of steep climbs and descents on rough gravel, as well as rolling paved sections along the Cheat River and nearby streams. There were marshals out at most corners and plenty of white and yellow arrows painted on the roads to keep us from getting lost in the desolate back woods. I was surprised at how challenging, both physically and mentally it was to descend on the gravel. It seems to be an important skill to have if you’re going to be competitive in ultra cross. Looking forward to giving this ultra cx thng another try at the Hilly Billy Roubaix next month!
RDC Pittsburgh regional rider Kamden Hoffmann mixed it up a bit this weekend with a half-ironman distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) triathlon in Knoxville Tennessee. Kamden finished first in her 35-39 age group and was the 4th woman overall! Kamden describes the event:
REV3 Knoxville 70.3 was one of the most enjoyable Half Iron distance races in the last seven years I have been racing. Notorious for a hilly bike course, and even hillier run, coming from Pittsburgh I knew this course was for me. After a beautiful swim at 68 degrees in the Tennessee River, my TT bike held strong and I powered through the hills of Knoxville. Gorgeous descents, and being a cyclist as well, I have some skills from road racing that allowed me soar past some other triathletes on the descents and switchbacks. The weather surprised us after a couple frigid days, it was perfect, and finishing up that run to secure 1st place in my Age Group (35-39) and 4th woman overall made the day even better! The icing on the cake was seeing all the athletes that we coach join me as they crossed the finish line, with big smiles, and lots of hardware! Great day overall, looking forward to recovery then jumping right back in for the ABRA series Fort Cherry Road Race June 1st and Ironman Syracuse June 22. Let the 2014 race season continue strong! While racing, my team charity is always in my heart and my teammates are with me in spirit.
OMBC Mohican State Forest Cross Country
RDC Pittsburgh rider Lauren Mika raced the Ohio Mountain Bike Championship (OMBC) Mohican Cross Country race this past weekend with a first place finish in women’s expert. Lauren:
Despite a TON of rain leading up to the race, the trails were better than expected, but a little slick and squishy in parts. I felt great from the gun and I was able to get out front of the strong women’s field early and hang on to the lead. Big thanks to RDC for the support!