Anyone you talk to about endurance mountain bike racing can tell you it’s hard. Racing for 4+ hours is tough. Doing it in the mountains boosts the challenge even higher. Mix in technical terrain and you can walk away from a race not just physically tired, but mentally smashed. The beauty is in it’s very grueling nature. But, while it is a difficult sport, most endurance racers would reserve the strongest language for only a handful of races on the planet. One of those few is La Ruta, a race that has earned the title of the Hardest Mountain Bike Race in the World: La Ruta de Los Conquistadores.
The setting is Costa Rica and the course stretches across the whole country. The director spares no one in their design of this insanely tough 3 day stage race in the heart of the country. Rain forests, a volcano, mud bogs, bustling towns, multi-hour climbs, and even a few old and sketchy railroad bridges to make sure your fear is in check. La Ruta isn’t a part of the endurance mountain bike category of racing, it stands alone as its own genre. At 181 miles and over 25,000 feet of climbing in 3 days, it’s no wonder it draws international talent as one of the last races of the season.
Representing Rare Disease Cycling at this year’s edition was none other than the 2014 NUE Masters Champion, Roger Masse. Having had a near perfect season with 5 wins and trips to the podium for every other race entered, Masse was hungry for the podium to continue the streak and end the year on a high note.
Well versed in long races, having done six 100 mile races this year alone, Masse planned to follow his typical long course racing strategies. Carbo Rocket Half Evil for fuel, and an S-Works Specialized Stumpjumper as his weapon of choice. Given the extreme climbing on course, Masse opted to run his Specialized Chisel rigid fork up front; a small sacrifice for the benefit of getting his bikes weight down. Paired with Specialized Tires and SRAM’s super-light XX1 drivetrain, Masse’s rig was down to 19lbs.
The first stage leaves nothing to imagination about what the flavor of La Ruta will be. With 13,000 feet of climbing over a mere 58 miles, the gradients are often laughable. Masse noted he was very happy that he chose a rigid fork as the reduced weight was noticeable. “The stage was brutal,” Masse recalled, “there was more mud than I have ever seen.” Costa Rica, a country with traditionally very dry climate, has a distinct rainy season that brings daily downpours for a few months. La Ruta falls smack in the middle of that season.
The stage started fast and Masse put in a big effort to be near the front of affairs before they went through the tight and muddy single track sections. “It was all for nought because a group of us got off course for about 15 minutes before the single track. By the time we were back on course, we were behind a ton of traffic.” Not to be deterred though, Masse rallied, pushing hard up the final climbs to claw his way back into the lead, taking the win on the first day by 9 minutes in 6:44. “The crowds here are so enthusiastic!” Masse said. “They were even offering encouragement to me, a Gringo! I must have said “Gracias” 80 times today.”
Stage 2 looked tame on paper at only 27 miles, but it was far from easy. Finishing in just over 4 hours, Masse described the stage well as he crossed the line, his first words being “Holy crap, that was hard.” Given the short distance, the climbs were compressed and steep. “The mud today was unlike anything I’ve seen,” Masse described. “The ground is hard clay with a thin layer of water that made it like ice skating. You couldn’t even walk on it.”
With heavy legs from stage 1 and sapped energy from the mud, Masse attacked the last climb as hard as he could. It was a paved road climb, but was so steep, that Masse noted his gratitude for his selection of the 30/42 setup to get him slowly up to the top. “Whenever there weren’t cars coming, I was riding a serpentine line, weaving up the hill. It was just that steep,” he relayed. That solid push from Masse on the day left him in a good position but a bit short for the stage win, coming in just 16 seconds down on first. Masse retained the GC lead going into the final stage, with a sizeable gap to second in the Masters 50-59 field.
The final day of La Ruta is touted as the “easy day” which really means its harder than most single day endurance events. The course begins in the mountains and goes down to the coast which makes the profile look friendly, but its quite deceiving. The few climbs that make up the beginning are serious and only serve to soften up the legs for the final flat time-trial-style run in to the beach. Masse linked up with the 2014 NUE Single Speed Champion, Gordon Wadsworth, on the flats to push the pace on the final day.
They began working with a group of locals and were sharing the load, but each time Masse and Wadesworth stopped to grab bottles, they would lose their group. “We had to keep burning matches to catch back up to the locals who were taking feeds on the fly” Masse said. “Eventually I popped from all the accelerations and simply couldn’t latch back on.” No matter though, Masse came into the Caribbean town of Limon solo but strong as the 2014 La Ruta Masters 50-59 champion, holding an 11 minute margin over his next closest competitor to take the general classification win! Happy with his win despite his exhaustion Masse said, “I’m so spent, this was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Having taken the top steps at Monster Cross, Mohican 100, Lumberjack 100, Shenandoah 100, Fools Gold 100, it only seems fitting that Masse capped the season with a win at La Ruta de Los Conquistadores. A perfect wrap to a perfect season.
Yeager wins women. Oberman second overall. Pflug second single speed.
October 5, 2014. Michaux, PA. Quite likely the final edition of this event at the Michaux State Forest venue, the twelfth running of the Iron Cross Race did not disappoint. Part of the American UltraCross Series, the original high-speed gravel road/mountain-bike-light format of racing covers 68 miles consisting of gravel road, dirt road, pavement, run ups, and short stretches of relatively tame mountain bike trail. Promoter Mike Kuhn and his crew at the Outdoor Experience, have been incredible stewards of this event for many years. “The park is just too popular now.” said Kuhn referring to the increase in usage the Michaux State Forest has undergone in recent years. “We have to look at different venues for 2015”.
Rare Disease Cycling riders showed up in force to contest three of the four divisions of racing. In the end, five podium positions were earned, far exceeding earnings of any other team.
Senior Men Under 40
The race was won by long time Iron Cross participant Jeremiah Bishop (Alpine Loop Grand Fondo). “I was there for the early editions and I love the mash up of drop bars vs flat bars.” reminisced Bishop following the race. “So much fun to have the drafting and the run up.” Bishop said referring to the steep 10 minute Wigwam hike-a-bike that is one of the iconic features of the race. “Its a wacky event but challenging and has that Michaux vibe that kicked off my racing career. Its an honor to win this race especially after the Mini Munga on SDS.” concluded Bishop referring to his heavy training load in preparation for the Million Dollar Munga in December.
Second place and first man on a cyclocross bike, Rare Disease Cycling rider Cole Oberman prompted a pivotal attack attempting to achieve an small elite group at the front. “I sat in for the early part of the race, just making sure I wasn’t caught out on any potentially decisive course features. Around the 15 mile mark I made my move.” recalled Oberman about the early setup for his attack. “I went to the front and forced the pace as we approached the infamous Wigwam run up. I kept the pace hard as I quickly stepped my way up the 10 minute incline. I managed to open a one minute gap on the rest of the field.”
“I eased the pace a bit and let Jeremiah Bishop (Alpine Loop Grand Fondo) and David Flaten (Giant Mid-Atlantic) come up to me. We quickly went to work trading pulls and extended our lead.” described Oberman of the moments following Wigwam.
“Eventually Jeremiah, riding a mountain bike, launched an attack in a single-track section.” said Oberman describing the technical section leading up to the Larry’s Tavern “Aid” station. “I chased as hard as possible but my Crux was no match for (Jeremiah riding a mountain bike in) the semi-technical trail. Dave and I chased for the rest of the race, eventually battling for second on the climb to the finish.” Oberman won that battle.
“Iron Cross is one of my favorite late season races. It’s beautiful, gritty and just plain hard. I’m more than stoked to come home with a solid 2nd place!”
Third place finisher David Flatten (Giant Mid-Atlantic) describes the Wigwam selection that whittled the front group to three. “The cool thing about racing with Cole and JB is that we train and race each other all year. We know our strengths and weaknesses. I put in a dig before the last rideable climb before the field leading to the long run up. Cole and Jeremiah quickly responded and when I looked over my shoulder it was just the 3 of us. Cole encouraged us to put in a solid dig leading to the run up to create separation. Cole looked like the road runner, his feet were moving so fast. He was taking quick light steps all the way to the top and was out of sight in a short amount of time. Jeremiah and I made contact going up the next run up as we were able to ride halfway up it with out mountain bikes. That was the selection, and we never saw anyone again.”
RDC’s Andrew Dunlap experienced a flat tire not 500 yards into the prolog and eventually ended up briefly working with teammate Selene Yeager on his way to a 21st place finish.
The Open Men’s top-8 consisted of Jeremiah Bishop in 1st, RDC’s Cole Oberman 2nd, David Flatten 3rd, Justin Lowe 4th, Aaron Snyder 5th, Brian Patten 6th, Calvin Hoops 7th, and Francis Cuddy in 8th.
Top honors went to Rare Disease Cycling rider Selene Yeager. Her Iron Cross win, combined with her season opening win at Monster Cross, framed an incredible season of success on both the cross and mountain bike with two UltraCross bookend wins. “I knew there was a pretty strong field and that I’m in good form.” Yeager recalled about her chances. “I really wanted the win so I just went from it from the gun. I actually nearly vomited and it was COLD!” said Yeager referring to the 38 degree starting temperature. “This year, they stared us nearly 10 minutes behind the men so it took me 10 miles to find some dudes to work with while the chase women were working together to reel me in. But I managed to stay away.” remembers Yeager. “I never looked back. So hard tho, that last 10 miles….”
Finishing forth, Rare Disease Cycling teammate Stephanie Swan remains in the mix for a high UltraCross Series finish for 2014. Early in the race, last year’s winner Ruth Sherman (Corning No Tubes), Pathfinder of West Virginia’s Nicole Dorinzi, and Swan formed the Selene chase group. “Ruth turned into Lippencote trail ahead of Nicole and me and got a slight lead.” recalled Swan about the first single track test. “I got a gap on Nicole toward the bottom and then I saw a Rare Disease Cycling jersey and a friendly face whiz by – Andrew Dunlap!”
Andrew had flatted at the start of the race and was catching riders quickly. “He towed me back to Ruth’s group on the fast asphalt stretch after Lippencote and paced me all the way to the extended rocky (Wigwam) hike-a-bike section.” recalled Swan of the temporary alliance. “I trudged up the steep trail right behind Ruth, but she hopped on her bike a little faster at the top. The little gap she got, combined with me going slightly off-course heading back onto the gravel road, put just enough distance between us that I could not catch her. She was in my sights until around mile 30 of the 68 mile race.”
The Open Women’s top-5 consisted of RDC’s Selene Yeager in 1st, Ruth Sherman in 2nd, Katrina Dowidchuk 3rd, RDC’s Stephanie Swan 4th, and Nicole Dorinzi 5th.
Senior Men Over 40
Specialized SRAM rider Garth Prosser made his usual strong Iron Cross appearance by winning the 40+ division and going toe-to-toe in an exciting sprint finish with single speed winner Mike Montalbano. Montalbano won the sprint. Second place went to George Ganoung a multi-time Iron Cross veteran. Nathan Goates was third, Stephan Kincaid forth, and Rob Campbell finished fifth rounding out the top-five.
Past Shenandoah Mountain 100 and Mohican 100 winner in single speed, Toasted Head rider Mike Montalbano showed the Iron Cross field of strong single speed riders that he is still a force to content with in this unusual discipline.
“After playing it super conservative at Shenandoah and Fools Gold, I was ready to throw down at Iron Cross.” recalled Montalbano about his relatively conservative pace he started with during his final two hundred-mile mountain bike races. “I was amped at the start and found myself with a 100 yard gap on the entire field after the prolog loop. Knowing there was a really long downhill to recover on shortly after, I wasn’t worried.” recalled Montalbano about the start.
Montalbano was soon joined by the large front group. A bit of climbing came next followed by the Lippencote trail. “I knew Gerry Pflug had done this race last year. Besides a few people telling me what to expect, I had no clue what was coming up, so when Pflug surged I followed.” remembered Montalbano about the first single track section. “I passed as many as I could because to sit behind someone might mean missing a good wheel on the roads to follow.”
After a few miles on the road section between Lippencote and Wigwam, Montalbano attacked. “I was able to get a small gap on Gerry and held it till the run up on Wigwam. Here I gassed it knowing I could open the lead a bit on the steep run up.” said Montalbano of the separation from the Rare Disease Cycling rider and 5-time NUE single speed champion Pflug. “I made it a point all day to make sure, that if I’m not riding it I’m running, no walking. The rest of the day I continued to push but with an eye over my shoulder. You can’t count a multi time NUE champion out. I never came unglued and even caught quite a few more on the run in to the finish, sprinting it out with Garth Prosser for 5th overall. I had fun on the course and am saddened to hear this is the last Iron Cross at this venue. I’d definitely come back.”
Rare Disease Cycling rider Gerry Pflug finished a tough day in the saddle as the second place single speeder.
“I always look forward to doing Iron Cross. It’s a fun late season endurance race to do and also an important stop on the American Ultra Cross Racing Series.” said Pflug about the race. “After my string of bad luck at the race last year with having two flat tires, I decided to race on my single speed mtb this year, instead of a cross bike. Unfortunately, I had another type of bad luck occur during the race when I was involved in a crash, after being hit by another rider. I suffered some deep road rash and had some hip pain from the crash, but managed to keep pushing hard and finish as the second placed single speed rider. The winner of the single speed race, Mike Montalbano, had an excellent ride and I’m sure he would still taken the win even without my crash. It was a tough day of racing, but still fun to do nevertheless.”
RDC’s Roger Masse, fresh off his 2014 NUE Series win in the Masters division racing geared bikes, contested Iron Cross on his Specialized single speed mountain bike. “I really like racing the single speed. It’s such a different riding experience.” said Masse about his choice of racing category. “I knew with Monty and Gerry in the mix, unless either of them had a major problem, I was racing for 3rd” recalled Masse about his chances. “I was, however, also concerned about Joe’s Bike Shop rider Ethan Frey.”
“My fitness is good right now, so I decided to run harder gearing than I have in past editions.” said Masse about his 36×17 gear choice which was functionally the same as Montalbano’s winning combination of 34×16. “I was able to ride all the same sections as last year… they were just harder.”
By the halfway point, Masse, as he had hoped was in 4th position behind Montalbano, Pflug, and Frey. “I thought it was over, but my luck changed when I passed Ethan on the mid point of the final climb just as he was finishing up a flat tire change.” recalled Masse of the late contest for single speed third. “It’s a hard climb and I was already near my limit. Ethan caught me after 3 or 4 minutes and made his move on one of the steeper pitches. I had no response and had to settle for 4th by 30 seconds.”
The single speed podium consisted of Mike Montalbano in 1st, RDC’s Gerry Pflug 2nd, Ethan Frey 3rd, RDC’s Roger Masse 4th, and Alan Royek in 5th.
Pflug earns NUE Series 3rd in both open men and single speed.
September 20, 2014. Dahlonega, GA. The small north Georgia town that nobody can pronounce ( “Dah-lahn- e-ga” ), famous for being the site of the first major U.S. Gold Rush and for being the heart of Georgia wine country, was once again the final destination for racers competing in the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series. The Fools Gold 100, the mountain bike race named after a brassy yellow mineral (usually pyrite) that can be mistaken for gold, starts and ends at the beautiful Montaluce Winery. The 92 mile course opens with one long gravel road climb and some ridgeline gravel, followed by a fast gravel descent. Much of the singletrack is newly re-constructed and flowy, with an assortment of fast gradual climbs to short grunts. In the end, riders climb 12,000 feet. The weather was perfect, dry and mostly overcast with a high in the seventies.
For 2014, the Fools Gold occupied the final and tie breaking event in a 13 race year for the NUE series. It’s the Fools Gold that would determine the 2014 series winners for each of the four NUE categories: Open Men, Open Women, Single Speed, and Masters. Riders are scored on their best 4 races. Four wins that include a win at the Fools Gold guarantee racers a series championship. Along with a shared cash purse and free entries to all 2015 NUE races, each NUE series winner is also awarded an all expenses paid trip to La Ruta de los Conquistadores, a three day mountain bike stage race in Costa Rica on November 6-8.
Winning this year’s Fools Gold and the NUE series in the Open Men’s division was Sho-Air Cannondale rider Jeremiah Bishop. “I am super excited to land the NUE over all series for a second time.” exclaimed Bishop who, in addition to doing La Ruta, is planning on participating in the Munga, a 620 mile unsupported mountain bike race across the continent of Africa that boasts a million dollars in prize money to be shared among winners.
“The race was hard from the start and Tinker (Juarez) took off in search of his own pace at the top of winding stair pass” remembers Bishop about the early separation from his Sho-Air teammate soon after the climbing started in earnest. “I was tired from a huge week of training for the Million Dollar Munga. Because of this I had to play it safe and use the large group to save some energy.”
On the last big climb of the race when everyone was tired and slowing down, Bishop made his move. “It took several attacks to get separation and initially, Keck Baker brought me back with Tinker hot on his wheel.” recalled Bishop about the final race-deciding selection. It was not until the 3rd attempt that Bishop was able to gain meaningful separation. “I (finally) got full power down I was glad to get a gap!” said Bishop recalling that pivotal moment. “I pushed hard and got a solid lead but suffered a bit because I had lost a bottle in the last hour.”
“Its been a fantastic adventure at every race and it’s always super cool to start with all the amateur riders in one big group, you don’t get that at the Pro XC’s.” Bishop reminisced when asked about his thoughts on the NUE and the 2014 NUE Series. “This weekend is my Alpine Loop Gran Fondo so there will be a special toast to the win in the National Ultra Endurance 100 Series.”
Splitting his NUE Series race time between both the Open and Single Speed categories, Rare Disease Cycling rider Gerry Pflug grabbed the fifth and final Fools Gold Open Men’s podium spot earning himself NUE series podium finishes (3rd place series finishes) in BOTH Open Men and Single Speed, an accomplishment that has never been achieved before.
“With having third place locked-up in the singlespeed class for the 2014 NUE Series, I decided to race in the open category at the Fool’s Gold 100 to do my best at securing a second podium position in the series.” explained Pflug about the decision to race in the Open for the Fools Gold. “I had a blast racing on the flowing single track trails and the perfect hero dirt that made up the awesome Fool’s Gold race course.”
“Racing in both the Open and Single Speed classes this year made 2014 an exciting endurance race season for me and it felt great to do well in each category.” reflected Pflug on the 2014 NUE season.
Rare Disease Cycling rider Rob Spreng capped off an impressive endurance mountain bike season with a seventh place finish in the Open Men at the Fools Gold. Rob was well positioned for a top-five NUE series placing but was forced to abandon the Shenandoah Mountain 100, one of his four planned races.
“The pace started high on the first climb. I stayed with the lead group for about 30 minutes but soon fell off and a chase group formed.” remembers Spreng about the early throw down. Spreng, Pflug, (single speeder) AJ Linnell and a two other Single Speed riders finished out the first climb together. “I got away from that group on the first long gravel descent. Gerry was the only one of the group to bridge back to me.” recounted Spreng.
Pflug was first out of Aid2 at the bottom of Bull Mountain. “I did bridge back but he took off again on the Bull Mountain climb. I ended up passing him a while later as he was pulled over for a minute. He eventually rode back to me and pulled on a climb again.” Spreng remembered of the back-and-forth with his friend and teammate.“I would see Gerry off and on for the next couple hours, but never really did ride with him again. I spent the rest of the day cruising through the GA clay alone.”
The Open Men’s podium for the 2014 Fools Gold had Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) finishing first, teammate David Tinker Juarez (Sho-Air/Cannondale) second, Brian Schworm (Pedal Power) third, Keck Becker forth, and Gerry Pflug (Rare Disease Cycling) in fifth.
Due to the birth of his second child, 2013 NUE Series Champion and this years Mohican 100 and Lumberjack 100 winner Christian Tanguy had an abbreviated 2014 racing season. He did not have enough races to compete for the series championship.
No one was going to take away the NUE series title for Open Women from Motor Mile Racing’s Brenda Simril. Simril, who had competed in eight series races, and had locked up the title before the Fools Gold even started. Simril’s effort was good enough for 2nd on the day, but the win went to long time Baltimore native and recent Chapel Hill North Carolina transplant Carla Williams. William’s sent a clear message to the woman and 2014 NUE Series champion who had beaten her twice in the early races of the 2014 NUE series. “I can win too.”
“I started out at a strong pace with Tom Haines (Design Physics / Coqui ). We looked down at our watches after what felt like 30 mins of riding, and were surprised to see that we had been racing for 2 hours already. That was a good feeling!” recalls Williams about the early parts of the race. Williams, a gifted climber, was rewarded by the layout of the Fools Gold course. “I felt like this was a course I could really attack. The singletrack sections which usually make me nervous were fast and smooth without too many rocks or roots to slow me down. The climbing definitely added up by the end, but the individual climbs were shorter compared to some of the other NUE races, and I felt I could charge up them without burning too many matches.” said Williams about her strategy.
“Before the race, I was thinking that I have just one last long slog before I can start racing my cx bike and the fall fun really starts. But during the race, I was having such a good time that I’m sad I have to wait until April of next year to do this again.” reflected Williams on her final (and best) 2014 endurance achievement.
The 2014 Fools Gold Open Women’s podium had Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop Racing Team) finishing first, Brenda Simril (Motor mile racing) second, Rachel Millsop (Vikings) third, Anne Pike (Blue Ridge Cyclery p/b Reynolds GM/Suburu) fourth, and Jennifer Moos (Pink Siren Sports / Z Bike Shop) fifth.
Multi-time NUE Series winner and Rare Disease Cycling rider Cheryl Sornson won the 2014 True Grit Epic but then changed her focus to shorter Cross Country distance events. Leadville 100 podium finisher and 2014 Shenandoah Mountain 100 winner and Rare Disease Cycling rider Selene Yeager did not have enough races for a 2014 series contention.
In the Single Speed division, only A.J. Linnell (Fitzgerald’s Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/American Classic), could keep Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing rider Gordon Wadsworth from his first NUE series title. Wadsworth came into the Fools Gold with 4 wins, but Linnell, who had beaten Wadsworth in the Pierre’s Hole 100, could spoil the party with a win at Fools Gold by virtue of the tie break rule. But it wasn’t to be, the Roanoke VA rider dominated from the start and rode with the geared bike leaders for most of the early racing to secure his first ever NUE series title.
When asked if the Fools Gold represented a peak performance for 2014, Gordon responded “Peak? Sort of hard to tell. I think I just forced myself to keep riding extremely hard because that was the safe thing to do strategically.”
“AJ may be strong, and he is, but NO ONE can bridge up to a group of Tinker, JB, Keck and Brian Schworm. So the sooner I got them moving and the longer I stayed with them the better.” elaborated Wadsworth on the early decision to ride with the geared leaders. “I ended up staying with them a lot longer than I had though I might.”
“I dont know if I could Identify a peak during this season. I think I felt the best at Shenandoah. I know Lumberjack was a good early season peak for me. I think I managed to have two solid peaks this year between those two races.”
The single speed podium ended up with Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing) finishing 1st, AJ Linnell (Fitzgerald’s Bicycles/Pivot Cycles/American Classic) second, Bob Moss (Farnsworth Bikes/Crank Arm Brewery) third, Dwayne Goscinski (Team Noah Foundation) fourth, and Ernest Marenchin (pivot cycles) fifth.
Rare Disease Cycling rider Roger Masse came into the Fools Gold with three prior wins, but could have been defeated for the NUE Series Masters title in an upset by 2013 Masters Series winner Marland Whaley.
“I came into the Fools Gold with the full weight of the series championship on my shoulders. I was in the lead but could loose the series in a tie break if Marland Whaley were to win.” explained Masse about the contest for the title. “I saw that he was entered and so I had to show up to force a showdown. I’ve been racing well during the last month and so liked my chances.”
North Carolina native Alex Hawkins (Back Alley Bikes), who had defeated Masse at this year’s Cohutta 100 was also signed up. “I figured I would have my hands full.” recounts Masse. “I lined up on the front row and was 2nd wheel to the rider who took the hole shot. I remained in the top-5 for the first 8 miles or so until the sustained climbing began and the strong riders tested one another while establishing a very high pace. Within ten minutes of climbing, near the Army Ranger station and the cooler drop, the lead group of about twenty had ridden through me. There were a lot of watts being thrown down!”
Alone for a bit, Masse soon connected with Toasted Head rider Mike Montalbano who had decided to not try and match the pace being set by the early leaders. “I rode on Mike’s wheel till just shy of the top of the lap 1 Bull’s Run climb. He was keeping a lid on his early pace but he dropped me there.” recalls Masse of his early alliance. “Mike’s is a good wheel to have and I know we were making good time even though his effort was probably only 80%”
“I felt good and rode solidly through the bottom of Bull’s Run for lap 2 and Aid5 but started losing my A-game.” recalls Masse. “I learned I had a comfortable lead and I had missed Aid Station 1 and had fallen behind on my fluids. I was content to throttle down and cruise the final twenty miles in for the win!”.
“I’m really looking forward to Iron Cross on Single Speed and the LaRuta 3 day stage race in Costa Rica.” exclaimed Masse when asked what’s next. “Gordon and I are going to room together. It will be the experience of a lifetime representing the U.S. and the NUE in Central America!”
Masse’s win at Fools Gold gave the Bethesda Maryland native 4 NUE wins on the year and the series title. In the end, even though Hawkins and Whaley were entered, they did not start. The final Masters results for the Fools Gold were Roger Masse (Rare Disease Cycling) in first, Anthony Hergert (Reality Bikes Ambassador Team) second, Mark Drogalis (Toasted Head Racing) third, Monte Hewett (peachtree bikes) fourth, and David Jolin (Stark Velo) fifth.
CyclingNews.com coverage and results here. Final NUE standings here. Thom Parsons post race dirtwire.tv video summary and interviews here.
Pflug second in single speed. Kelly rides to the race from Philly and finishes 14th.
August 31, 2014. The penultimate race of the 2014 National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series, the Shenandoah Mountain 100, has long been the best attended and most popular race of the series. With 12,500 feet of climbing and many long, loose, rocky descents, the SM100 demands a lot and only rewards riders who can present their climbing A-game for the entire day and who are comfortable pushing the limits of sliding tires on high-speed descents filled with marbles. While the course is epic, the festival-like atmosphere provided all weekend long by Chris Scott and the folks at Shenandoah Mountain Touring, provides the perfect backdrop for spending a bit of non-race time with friends and competitors reflecting on a great season and celebrating the sport that brings us together.
Rare Disease Cycling riders earned three podium positions, this with 500+ riders on the starting line and enormous competition in every category. Selene Yeager and Roger Masse each came away with victories in their respective Women’s and Masters categories as Gerry Pflug raced on single speed to a 2nd place finish.
Yeager, who competing in her first Shenandoah 100 this year had zero idea what to expect. “I’d heard it was a great course—the best of the series many said. I knew there were big climbs and equally big descents.” said Yeager. “I really didn’t know much else but that I was in for a long, challenging, and hopefully very rewarding, fun day.”
Yeager planned to stick with the leaders, women who had raced and done well there in the past, to feel things out. “I wanted to see how I felt and not burn too many matches early on in what I’d heard is a day that gets harder as it goes.” remembers Yeager about her planned strategy. On the first dirt climb, however, that strategy was tossed to the wind…
“One of the race favorites Laura Hamm (Moonstompers) came around pretty much immediately.” recalls Yeager. “I got on her wheel and started thinking. I’d heard she was fast on the descents. It was dry and sketchy—not my favorite descending conditions. And I was totally new to the place. If I stuck with her wheel I might end up chasing out of my element all day. I felt like I could probably climb a bit faster, so I made an early pass and didn’t look back, making a revised game plan to climb my heart out and let it rip on the descents where I felt comfortable, but be conservative when I didn’t.”
Selene Yeager’s revised plan worked. She ended up with her first NUE win at the 2014 Shenandoah Mountain 100. “I didn’t let myself believe it or celebrate until I saw the tents leading into camp and heard the cheers of the crowd.” recalled an excited Yeager about the finish. “I still really can’t believe it. It’s a very proud, happy way to wrap up the main season. Shenandoah is a special—very hard—race. It means a lot to me to now be part of its history.”
Read Selene’s full blog post about here experience here.
If Selene Yeager’s win was the result of a line-of-scrimmage audible, seven-time SM100 participant and 2012 SM100 Masters winner Roger Masse had some strategy revisions of his own. “I’ve never had a complete race here.” lamented Masse about past editions. “I always seem to loose my A-game during the Soul Crusher climb”. referring to the long 20 mile stretch of climbing between mile 60 and 80. “I know the course and never drink enough, so this year I left my GPS in the car and rode with a CamelBak for most of the day” said Masse on his strategy change for the 2014 edition.
“My main rivals, or so I thought, were Jim Matthews and Alex Watkins. I managed to get a gap on Jim and Alex going up the steep Lynn trail climb at about mile 20.” recalls Masse about the start. Jim Matthews was far from finished as he used his impressive descending skills off of Wolf Ridge to bridge back up to Masse. The two remained together till about half way up the first Hankey climb until Matthews got some separation. “He was attacking and has some impressive threshold power. Just like at the Wilderness 101, I didn’t want to go that hard to stay with him so he got a gap.”
But Matthews must have stopped for fluids after the Dowells Draft descent, as Masse was able to regain contact on the road section after aid3 (Rt 250). “We were working together well in a rotating pace line with about 8 guys going up 250” recalls Masse. “I knew what was next and was able to get into the single track first for the technical Bridge Hollow climb and this time I got the gap. I pushed my advantage and my lead stuck through the Braileys descent and aid4.” said Masse who thought he was finally the front runner.
But Masse was not in the lead. “I got in a good group of 6 out of aid4 to start the Soul Crusher section containing Jed Prentice, Kyle Lawrence and two strong climbers one of which was Chris Tries.” remembers Masse. “Once we turned off of North River onto Pitt Rd where the real climbing begins, the two climbers jumped ahead, but I could see that Chris had gapped the other guy and was riding away. Just before aid5 I caught the other guy, and after a short conversation, I realized he was Masters rider Henry Loving!” said Masse about the realization that his race was just beginning. “I made sure he knew I was racing Masters as well and that I thought we were in the lead… Oh yeah, It was on! I got out of aid 5 before him and with a big surge of adrenaline just drilled it to the top of Chestnut and really pulled out all of the stops on the long, loose rocky descent. I didn’t stop at aid6 and just gave it everything I had up Hankey 2 and held on for the win!”
RDC’s Gerry Pflug has made no secret that his goal for 2014 is to stand on BOTH the Open and Single Speed series podiums at the Fools Gold, the final race in the 2014 NUE series. Gerry inched his way closer to that goal by earning second place to Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery) at this year’s SM100. Gordon had an amazing day, setting a new course single speed record 7:45:57 earning 7th place overall.
“My goal going into the Shenandoah Mtn 100 was to take the singlespeed win and set-up a showdown between Gordon Wadsworth, AJ Linnell and myself for the overall SS series win at the Fool’s Gold 100.” explained Gerry about his plans, but Wadsworth was too strong for Pflug to challenge him for the win at this years SM100, so Pflug called his own line-of-scrimage audible. “Knowing a second place finish at Shenandoah would give me a lock on taking third place overall in the series, I began riding a steady and more conservative pace during the race to protect my lead over the other SS racers.” recalls Pflug about his revised strategy. “I had a blast doing the SM100 this past weekend and scored a big bonus towards the end of the race when I saw a black bear and her two cubs while descending down Chestnut Ridge. With a lock on third place in the SS division, I will now be racing Fool’s Gold in the open class for a chance to stand on both the SS and open class NUE Series podiums.”
The day was ruled by local Sho-Air Cannondale rider Jeremiah Bishop who rode to the event and re-rode several difficult sections of the difficult course as training for The Munga, a 1000K race across South Africa. Technical riding master Sam Koerber finished 2nd.
RDC’s Rob Spreng made it to Aid Station 4, where he was forced to withdraw due to illness.
RDC’s Jesse Kelly competed in this year’s SM100 after riding his bike to the venue in Stokesville, VA from his home in Philadelphia. His finishing time of 8:09 was good enough for 15th in the open men. “Thanks to being fed all day Saturday by everyone around the campground I was feeling pretty good considering the long ride down and 3 nights sleeping on the ground.” recalled Kelly about his adventure. “I went for a pre-ride with Mike Montabano and though I was sore at first within a few minutes I felt pretty good.”
“I felt pretty strong from the get-go but figured I’d eventually fall apart. Fortunately I didn’t and was able to ride strong from start to finish.” remembers Kelly about his ride. “There were moments of course, but thanks to being able to stock up at each aid station with the help of many incredible volunteers I just kept feeding and drinking. I ended up having the race of my life, riding single track as good as ever, and feeling like I was climbing really well. I also got lucky on many sections of road where I ended up with two more more riders to work together.”
“I especially enjoyed the company during the race of Garth Prosser, Dan Rapp, John Petrylak, teammate Gerry Pflug, and the most incredible downhill skilled riders, David Reid and Chad Davis. Considering the caliber it’s probably my best race to date.” reflected Kelly. “I don’t think the ride to Stokesville helped, but it didn’t hinder the race either.”
Full results here. DirtWire.tv coverage here. Race promoter Chris Scott’s Dirtwire.tv race report here. CyclingNews.com coverage here.
Oberman 2nd in XC Open Men. Harding, Thiemann go two, three in XC Open Women.
August 23, 2014. The fact that vacations are concluding and school is starting signals that not only is summer over, but so too is Mid Atlantic Super Series (MASS) racing for 2014. In one last final salute, over five hundred and fifty racers showed up this past weekend at the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Fairhill MD to give it one last go at earning MASS series points in both Cross Country and Endurance events. Hosted by Trail Spinners, the Fair Hill Classic has long been a popular race due in part to the long 23 mile loop format and fun twisty fast trail. For 2014, endurance race participants were treated to one giant 40 mile loop, a remarkable feat, considering the relatively small land mass of the Fair Hill park. Rare Disease Cycling riders Selene Yeager, Cole Oberman, Kathleen Harding, Nikki Thiemann, Jesse Kelly, Andrew Dunlap and Shane Pasley threw their hats in the ring, and in what has become a habit for Rare Disease Cycling, podium appearances were made.
Leading the way for Rare Disease Cycling was Selene Yeager who came away with the win for the Open Endurance women. Normally endurance racers do two a short prolog followed by two 23 mile laps. This year’s edition featured a single 40 mile loop. It’s a long race and a lot can go wrong. Yeager, who’s never really ridden to her full capabilities at the Fair Hill endurance event, finally put together a performance to be proud of. “I love riding at Fair Hill and have always done fairly well at the early XC race there.” recounted Yeager following her win. “But the endurance race has been a bit of a nemesis for me. I generally manage to pull out a good result, but not without a fair amount of misery. I’ve botched my nutrition. I’ve botched my hydration. I’ve gotten dizzy on that Crackhead Bob trail. I’ve made bad passes and almost taken out my own teammates. This was the first time I managed to put together a good day start to finish. I also felt monstrously good. Maybe it was Leadville sinking in or having all that wonderful oxygen to breathe, but I was able to finish as strong if not stronger than I started.”
Yeager’s winning time of 3:25 had a comfortable margin over second place and was good enough for 11th overall in the Endurance distance. Katrina Dowidchuk (Mid Atlantic Colavita Women’s Team) finished 2nd, Jennifer Tillman (Joe’s Bike Shop) 3rd, Missy Nash (Toasted Head Racing) was 4th, and rounding out the podium was Joanne Abbruzzesi (Bike Line).
In the men’s Cat1 / Pro Open event, RDC’s Cole Oberman finished 20 seconds behind winner Cameron Dodge (PURE ENERGY / SCOTT BICYCLES). “After a long and painful start drag, I led the group into the woods.” describes Oberman of the start of the Cat1 / Pro Open Men’s race. “My forte at the front quickly came to an end as I smashed my front wheel into a hole in the bottom of the first stream crossing. After ejecting onto the far shore and collecting myself, I began the chase back to the front group.”
Oberman remade contact and sat in to recover behind Aaron Snyder (STAN’S NOTUBES TRANSSYLVANIA EPIC ELITE MTB TEAM) and Cameron Dodge. “I let Cam set the pace for the first half of the race and tried to recover the best I could.” recalls Oberman. “With about 40 minutes remaining I went to the front and began hitting both the climbs and descent as hard as possible in hopes that I would force an error. In the end it wasn’t to be, I bobbled in the last section of single track and gave Cameron a 20 second gap which he held to the line.”
Dodge finished first, Oberman 2nd, and Aaron Snyder squeaked out 3rd just ahead of Andrew Freye.
“All in all it was a great way to end the XC mountain bike season.” said an excited Oberman at the finish. “Now its time for some cyclocross!”
RDC’s Jesse Kelly finished 12 in the Cat 1 / Pro Open event, 10 minutes back. RDC Philly Regional rider Shane Pasley finished 23rd.
In the women’s Cat 1 / Pro Open event, RDC’s Kathleen Harding and Nikki Thiemann finished second and third respectively behind NoTubes Elite Women’s team racer Vicki Barclay.
RDC DC regional rider Andrew Dunlap finished 12th in the Open Endurance Men.
Full results here. PJFreemanPhotograpy.com event photos here. Ty Long NoFilmPhotography photos here.
Spreng takes second overall. Masse second place in Masters.
August 17, 2014. National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series racers converged on Greenfield NH this past weekend for the Hampshire 100 Ultra Endurance mountain bike race. With just a few races left in the series, this is the time of the year where series division contenders try to gain a points advantage heading into the Shenandoah Mountain 100 and the Fools Gold, the final races in the series. Rare Disease Cycling teammates Gerry Pflug, Rob Spreng, and Roger Masse exemplify series competitors in this situation and in the end came away with some solid performances.
Leading the way was Gerry Pflug with a win in the single speed category. Pflug, who is a five-time NUE series winner in single speed, is also a 2014 series podium contender in the open category. With the single speed win at Hampshire, “the Pflug” took a big step towards achieving his goal as being the first person ever to earn an NUE series podium in both single speed and open in the same year.
“Since I’ve done the Hampshire 100 the past two years, I knew it would be a hard 100 mile race, but I didn’t realize how much harder the race would be with the new course layout.” explained Pflug referring to the large number of new and difficult trail added to this year’s edition. “Most riders had finishing times about an hour slower than previous years.”
The new difficulty was due to the removal of about 10 miles of early rail-to-trail replaced with some very freshly cut trail that involved soft loamy climbing. The fact that the course receiving about 3 inches of rain a couple of days before the event did not help matters.
“At the beginning of the race, Dan Rapp was able to get into the single track a head of me and put a little time between us, but eventually I was able to catch him with the help of another singlespeed racer, Will Crissman.” remembers Pflug about the early positioning of his single speed rivals. “From that point, the three of us worked together until we were caught by a group of geared riders that also contained singlespeed rider Ernesto Marenchin.” explained Pflug about the growing chase group by the end of the long rail-to-trail section. “Upon getting caught by this group, Dan Rapp and I increased the pace and only Crissman followed.”
On the powerline climb, Crissman fell from the pace set by Rapp and Pflug. “From that point until the aid station at mile 48 I rode with Dan at a fairly steady pace.” recounts Pflug. “I was able to leave the aid station a bit quicker than he did, which gave me an opportunity to put distance between my fast singlespeeding friend and competitor.”
“I was certain Dan was going to bridge back up to me, so I kept my speed at a high pace and eventually moved into fourth place overall.” said Pflug of the miles of trail just after the mile 48 aid station. “I never saw any other singlespeed racers after leaving Dan.”
Pflug managed to hold-on to his lead to take the win at 8:57. Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles/Twin 6 Labs) crossed the line in second 14 minutes later. Daniel Rapp (Toasted Head Racing) followed in third 5 minutes behind 2nd. Paul Simoes (Bikeman.Com) was 4th and Will Crissman (B2C2 P/B Boloco) rounded out the single speed podium in 5th. “After doing the past five NUE Series Races on a geared bike, it felt good to be back on a single speed.” said Pflug after the event. “Like they say, variety is the spice of life!”
Rare Disease Cycling’s Rob Spreng, competing in the men’s open division, had an awesome race, adding a solid result to an already stellar season. Finishing ahead of all but Sho Air Cannondale rider Jeremiah Bishop when the day was done, Spreng puts himself into position to compete for a very high 2014 NUE series ranking.
“Once we all got going in the singletrack there was some changing front positions for a little while.” recalled Spreng about the start. Once everyone got settled in, it was Spreng, Bishop, Tinker Juarez (ShoAir Cannondale), Dan Timmerman (Nalgene P/B Mt Bora) and Mike Barton that formed the front group. A short while later, Spreng recalled seeing Mike off of the trail with a mechanical issue, reducing the lead group to four.
“I’m not sure when, but Tinker was the first to fall off.” Spreng recalled. In the single track following the mile 48 aid station where Gerry Pflug would shortly get separation from fellow single speeder Dan Rapp, Dan Timmerman was losing contact with the leaders. “The remaining three of us were together until somewhere around mile 50.” remembers Spreng. “From there I think JB and I started putting a little gap on Dan Timmerman.”
Spreng and Bishop were together through the start-finish area at mile 62 and for about 10 miles after that. “He starting turning up the pressure around mile 65 and I stayed as long as I could.” recalls Spreng about the final separation with the eventual winner. “I had to eventually let him go and ride my own race from there to the finish. From then on I kept my gap on third place and rode the rest alone. I had a ton of fun finishing! My Specialized S-Works Epic World-Cup was loving the last 10 miles of awesome trails.”
Bishop won the day with a time of 8:22, nearly one hour slower than his 2013 winning time. Spreng finished 2nd 16 minutes later. Dan Timmerman finished 3rd, Matthew Merkel (Riverside Racing) 4th and Toasted Head’s James Mayuric rounding out the top-five. With 2 second place finishes and a 4th, Rob Spreng is well positioned to vie for a top-3 series finish in the open men.
Rare Disease Cycling rider Roger Masse briefly challenged Masters winner Alec Petro (Corner Cycles) with a catch at the mid-way point. It didn’t last. The same single track section where Dan Timmerman lost contact with Spreng and Bishop; and where Dan Rapp lost contact with Pflug; Masse also lost contact with the Masters race leader.
“I jumped ahead of Alec into the Prolog single track at the start, but he caught and passed me on the first pavement climb” recalled Masse of the early test of his rival. He wouldn’t see him again till the half way point. “Rolling out of the aid station at mile 48, I nearly regained contact with Alec again, hanging about 30 feet off his wheel for a mile or so.” remembers a surprised Masse. “I thought he was gone… but there he was. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capitalize. I had just finished 25 relatively fast-paced miles of single track with Jeff Mandell (Finkraft Cycling Team), Crystal Anthony (Riverside Racing) and eventual 6th place open finisher Ross Andersen (Pure Energy – Scott Elite Cycling). At that point in the race, I needed to settle down a bit so he slipped away.” Meanwhile, Petro jockeyed back and forth with the eventual Women’s 100K winner Crystal Anthony all the way to the start-finish, out-of-sight and together gaining time on Masse. Petro hung on for the win with Masse crossing in 2nd 23 minutes later. “I was hoping to be a bit closer to Alec in the end, but I’m happy with the second place finish.”
Masse, who had taken over the Masters series lead following a mechanical-filled day which landed him a disappointing 6th place at the Wilderness 101, lost the series lead for 24 hours to Marland Whaley as his rival won the Masters race at Pierre’s Hole in Wyoming. Masse’s 2nd place at Hampshire replaces the 6th place finish from Wilderness 101 and moves him back into the series lead setting up a winner take all showdown with Whaley at the Fools Gold in September.
In the open women, Elizabeth Allen (Danielson Adventure Sports) finished first at 11:30, followed by Anne Pike (Blue Ridge Cyclery Racing) three minutes later. Third place went to Lenka Branichova (Lapdogs Cycling Club).
Full results here. CyclingNews.com coverage here. NUE Series standing through Hampshire 100 here.
RDC’s “FitChick” earns age-group third at the “Race Across the Sky”.
August 9, 2014. Approximately 2,000 racers converged on the small historic Colorado mining town of Leadville, essentially doubling it’s normal population of roughly 2,500, to compete in the 21st edition of the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. In 2009, the race became known as the “Race Across the Sky“, after a short movie with that name was released chronicling Lance Armstrong’s win of the event and his improbable setting of a new course record that year. The 103 mile course takes riders from a starting elevation of approximately 10,152 feet to the Columbine’s elevation of 12,424 ft, where riders are turned around to head back to Leadville. Leadville never seems to hold much attraction to the typical National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series mountain bike racer, in part due to it’s reputation as a minimally-technical “roadie” course that is held at altitude. Despite this, the Leadville 100 has attracted many super-stars of our sport to contest it’s peaks over the years, so much so that the race has evolved to iconic state, virtually on every endurance riders bucket-list.
Rare Disease Cycling rider Selene Yeager threw her hat in the ring for this year’s event on the brand new not-yet-in-production 2015 Specialized ERA, a women’s specific full suspension 29er.
“I’ll confess that I’ve never really had any interest in doing Leadville.” recalls Yeager about past thoughts of including Leadville as a race in her season. “I just didn’t really believe the hype. It also has a bit of a reputation as a “roadie course,” so I didn’t think it would be interesting. Plus it’s an out and back, which never really appeals to me. So yeah. Leadville. Whatever.”
“I was wrong. Really wrong.” confesses Yeager. “Leadville is actually all that it’s hyped to be and maybe then some—brutally hard, amazingly beautiful, very humbling, a bit of a road race, more of a mountain bike race than you think, and the kind of experience that seeps under your skin and becomes a little part of you.”
“It’s the only race I’ve ever done that has a downhill start, which is as sketchy as it sounds, and always leads to a crash or two that can take you out before you even start.” remembers Yeager about her start. “Survive that, and before you know it, you’re onto the first climb and the day is on in earnest.”
Despite disciplined pacing, Selene feeling as though the climbs were endless, started to come unglued at around mile 85. “I was convinced I had blown my sub-9 goal and as everything started to hurt and shut down, I wasn’t sure I cared.” recalls Yeager of that dark final hour. This is around the point where Selene found Rebecca Rusch, Specialized Bicycle sponsored athlete and her 2013 Brazil Ride partner. “She rolled up and I was transported back to Brazil where we’d pushed so far beyond our limits day after day.” recounts Yeager. “Suddenly 7 or 8 more miles seemed easy. We hit the pavement and I could see it… the red carpet and the finish line. I wanted nothing more than to hit that red carpet and be done.”
Yeager finished the brutal day in eight hours and thirty nine minutes, good enough for 3rd place in her 40-49 age group for women, the age group of most of the top women finishers.
When later asked about how the new women’s specific Specialized ERA performed, “It was awesome. Very light and responsive.” Yeager remembers about the bike. “It’s women’s specific geometry. More like a Fate than an Epic.”.
The ERA, which comes with a Brain equipped version of the new inverted Rock Shox RS1 suspension fork, is apparently very good on small-bump compliance. “I LOVED it. Very, very supple.” exclaimed Yeager about the fork. “Reacts perfectly to the ground without transfering any unwanted feedback into the rider.”
Despite being extremely prepared for the event and riding an awesome bike during it, Yeager was completely spent at the finish. “I stopped dead and slumped over my bars as depleted as I’ve ever felt…and as satisfied too.” said Yeager. “I did it. I finished the race and got the big belt buckle.”
Read Selene’s full blog and race report here. CyclingNews.com coverage here.
Jesse Kelly wins 45+. Harding second in women’s race.
August 9, 2014. The Mid Atlantic Super (MASS) Series endurance competition resumed this past weekend near Lynkens PA as the Ratting 50 took center stage. Known for it’s rocky challenging terrain, the 50 mile course in Weiser State Forest was once again the place where riders brought their biggest tires and and their biggest game to tackle what is likely the most challenging technical course in the MASS series. Rare Disease Cycling rider Jesse Kelly brought home the gold in the Masters 45+ category after a tough back-and-forth battle with Joe Johnston and Rolf Rimrot.
“I was a bit jaded beforehand having looked up my strava from last year and seeing I’d described it as ‘five hours in a tumble dryer'” said Kelly about his thoughts before the race.
The Rattling 50 course starts with an immediate 10 minute climb up 800 feet to the single track in the Weiser State Forest. “I wanted to battle it out with the big boys in the open including traveling partner Francis Cuddy, but he and the top dogs left left the field in the dust from the start.” recounts Kelly. “The course looped differently this year and I was confused pretty much the entire race. After the first long climb the singletrack quickly showed its character and I was no match for the numerous rock gardens.”
Nutrition strategy is important at the Rattling 50. As an August race with stops at mile 10, 20, and then a long skip to mile 40, It’s easy to run out of water. “It was not as hot as last year but a 20-mile section with no stops meant at least two hours with no refills.” remembers Kelly. “Nutrition was vital. Fortunately the Specialized S-Works Epic holds two bottles in the frame, but I still grabbed an extra for the jersey pocket. I’m very glad I did as even some of the riders with hydration packs ran out! Even drinking plenty I finished dehydrated. It was just so tough at times to attempt to drink in all the singletrack, and when doubled track appeared it was still too tiring to let go of the bars!”
The Masters 45+ race played out as a battle between Kelly, Joe Johnston (BLACK BEAR CYCLING / FASCAT COACHING) and Rolf Rimrot (Bike Line). “I would make headway on the tamer trails and continually be hunted down and often passed in the rocks.” said Kelly about the early back-and-forth. “I mostly stayed near Joe running first or second, but Rolf sailed by about half way leaving me in 3rd for a long while.”
Kelly was also duking it out early with open rider Jeff Mandell (FINKRAFT CYCLING TEAM) who eventually rode away to place fifth in the Open Men, and Jamie Huber (TOASTED HEAD RACING), who went on to take the single speed win. Also with Kelly was the young Andrew Bobb (MOUNTAINSIDE RACING) who’s had a stellar year. “Andrew’s technical abilities are unbelievable!” recalls Kelly. “He invited me to follow his lines in the rock gardens but sadly I could only wish to do so! All these guys were so powerful through the toughest sections, and fighting back up to them time and again was taking a toll.”
“After collecting myself at the final aid station and with the wonderful encouragement from the volunteers, I was ready to rocket home.” recalls Kelly about the final 8 miles to the finish. “Sadly, Rolf had a hard fall at some point, but he still hung on for 3rd. And I was able to get some space in front of Joe. I screamed down the last doubletrack descent along with Brian Shernce (CYCLE CRAFT/BULLDOGS) to the finish. That was the most thrilling part of the race, with my primary motivation at the end to just satisfy the cravings for hoagies and cola :)”
RDC’s Kathleen Harding placed second in the women’s open event behind Vicki Barclay (NoTubes Elite Women) and ahead of third place finisher Jessica Nankman (GIANT NORTHEAST GRASSROOTS TEAM). “Endurance racing is rough.” recalls Harding, who primarily focuses on shorter cross country distance events. “Probably should’ve had more hay in the barn before taking on the Rattling 50. On the upside, got to check out some incredible trails.” When a teammate asked how the course was, Harding was overheard to say “it felt like riding a jackhammer for 50 miles with a sandpaper saddle. Ha!”
The overall winner and Open Men’s division winner was Ryan Serbel (CREATEX COLORS – BENIDORM BIKES) followed by Scott Gray in second, and Andrew Freye (Bike Line) in 3rd.
Jamie Huber (TOASTED HEAD RACING) won the Single Speed, followed by Scott Green in second and Dan Bonora in third.
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!”
Sornson 7th Pro Woman. Oberman 10th Pro Man. Thiemann 2nd Single Speed.
July 18-20, 2014. For the second year of it’s east coast two-year stint, USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships were held in Bear Creek resort near Philadelphia PA. The course, custom build for this event, featured climbs, man-made features, rock gardens and technical descents. The blue, white, grey and red of Rare Disease Cycling was present and in the end, some noteworthy rides were notched.
The highest placing Rare Disease Cycling rider was Philly’s own Nikki Thiemann who finished second place behind Stan’s NoTubes rider Vicki Barclay in the Women’s Single Speed event. Carey Lowery finished third. “I got the hole shot but bobbled early in the climb so Vicki took off” said Thiemann about the start.
“Carey got by me after the heckle pit when we got stuck on course traffic. I decided to try and catch her on the climb in the second lap and caught her just as we entered the woods at the top of the mountain, finally passing her on one of the descents. Once I got around, I buried myself to try and build a lead that would stick… And it worked. Stoked to be on the podium with such talented women!”
In the Pro Women’s event, RDC’s Cheryl Sornson put in a great ride earning her a 7th place finish. Cheryl, who is a multi-time National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series champion, has re-focused her racing in 2014 to take on more of the shorter Cross Country length events. “It was a tough race on Saturday. I finally had an ok call up, 19th, but was still a bit slow to react off the start.” said Sornson about the action from the gun.
“I still felt good about it and going into the first “dirt” uphill I relaxed a bit because there was some struggle up ahead with slipping tires and girls needing to get off their bikes. I was about to forge ahead when one rider tried to get around me. She had to stop because there was no where to go. She then bobbled off her bike and inevitably shoved me off the trail and into the weeds. I was on the ground basically on my back. I had some unkind words unfortunately, but I could not believe that just happened. I jumped up as soon as I could but lost many, many places.”
“I got back on the bike and took a side line through some rough spots to pass some, but got clogged up as the trail got tight. Once the climb opened up a bit I gutted it out to pass some more and then some more at the feed zone. I really wanted to get into the downhill without riders who would struggle. Unfortunately, there were about three in front of me, but at the famous heckle pit I was able to out manouver them and passed them. I then gutted it out and stayed in between a 5 and 8th place position. With two to go I had a hold on 6th, but 7th was on my tail. On the last lap she surged ahead of me on a climb and I could not match it.
“Looking back I kind of wish I fought a little harder, but in reality I was in heaven with a 7th place finish and could not believe my strength in the race. If not for the start mess up I may have gone up a few places, but not too many. The girls ahead of me were all super strong.”
Cheryl also competed Sunday in the Super-D and the Short Track. “Super D was a good experience being my first and I placed 10th.” recalls Sornson. “Short Track was a huge gut buster and I was able to finish with the lead lap in 11th.”
“It was all so good and I conquered my goal of a top ten finish at nationals. I am very proud!” exclaimed Sornson, summarizing her great weekend.
RDC’s Carolyn Popovic finished 21st in the women’s pro race. “Nationals was at the best mountain biking venue for the second year in a row.” described Popovic of the Bear Creek course. “This year I was fortunate enough to participate in the pro xc event instead of watching from the sidelines and it was awesome!” Popovic exclaimed. “All of the supporters in the famous heckle pit made me feel like a celebrity and eased the strain of the course.”
“Harlan Price helped design a sweet Super-D course.” said Popovic, who also competed in the Super-D event on Sunday. “A big rock came up and bit me but at the end of the day I got away lucky.”
“Overall we couldn’t have asked for better competition, better announcing, better cheering, better weather and better courses!” said Popovic of her weekend of racing.
In the Pro Men’s event, RDC’s Cole Oberman rallied from a bad start to finish 10th place. “I had a great race over all, I was shooting for a top ten and thats exactly what I got.” said Oberman following his race. “I had a pretty mediocre start, getting pushed back to near 25th place by the time we entered the woods.”
“I kept my calm, knowing it was a long race and slowly worked my way forward.” remembers Oberman on the beginning of his comeback. “I tapped out a steady threshold effort on the long climb and stayed focused on the super technical descent. The amazing crowds in the LWC heckle pit kept me stoked as the race waned on and my legs grew heavier.”
“Going into the 6th and final lap I was siting in 12th place and could see 11th just up the trail. I slammed a flat Coke through the feed zone and the rush of sugar hit me immediately. I found that extra gear and quickly ran down 11th place. I caught 10th near the top of the climb and the adrenalin of that allowed me to keep it pinned to the finish. 10th in the USA!
“Many thanks to Rare Disease Cycling, Specialized, DNA Cycling, Carbo Rocket, Coach Joe Wentzel and Breakaway Bikes, my parents friends and everyone who supported! Now its onto the World Cups!
RDC Master rider Jesse Kelly who recently upgraded his USA Cycling license to pro status threw his hat in the ring for the pro race as well. “I was DFL! save the few guys who dropped out with mechanicals.” exclaimed Jesse about his race. “Got two laps in before I got pulled. I had nothing in the tank.”
“I knew the 300 miles I did this week wasn’t gonna help much, but wow I was totally burned from the start. It was a great experience, and I managed to ride the 2nd lap without a dab, which is good for me. It was also bizarre to race a race and basically spectate it at the same time! Thrilling to watch local rider Cameron Dodge get 5th!, Cole 10th! and both my buddies Mike Montalbano and Francis Cuddy just making it out on the lead lap. Not to mention the whole weekend of seeing so many great rides. It was awesome to be there. We need a couple heckle pits in the NUE races!”
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).