Round #3 of the American UltraCross Series brought racers to Morgantown West Virginia for the Hilly Billy Roubaix, a seventy mile gravel road race with lots of primitive West Virginia style dirt roads peppered in throughout. Team CF racer Gerry Pflug won his category of choice, the Single Speed. But for the third week in a row, the effort was good enough to be the fastest overall rider in contest.
It all started two weeks ago when Gerry the won the Single Speed category at the round #6 of the NUE, the Mohican 100. In a stunning feat of cycling, the Pflug was the fastest of the geared riders as well. At the time we described this feat as “once in a lifetime”. It seems that since then Mr. Pflug has been driven to prove us wrong. Last week Gerry teamed up with fellow Team CF rider Rob Spreng to win the Big Bear 2×12 single speed. They were also the riders with the fastest time overall. Now with the single speed and overall win at Hilly Billy Roubaix, it seems as though the Team CF single speed phenom is on a roll and in peak form!
A quick survey of results from practically any elite level mountain bike or ultra-cross event will reveal that the fastest geared riders are almost always faster than the fastest single speed riders. This fact is hard to ignore.
However, when we’ve talked to single speeders, they all without question feel that the single speed bike is the best tool for the job. They know something. Imagine never having to even think about shifting into the right gear. Single speeders ride single speed because they feel they are a better rider on the simpler machine. Most will also admit that the advantage is diminished at the highest and lowest speeds. When one is spun out on the flats in 34×18, geared bikes seem to float by in 39×11.
When a single speed rider can overcome these disadvantages against the best geared riders in contest, this is special. To do so three weeks in a row is not just luck, it is a statement. It’s a statement that makes you believe that the Team CF rider really is a faster rider on a single speed bike and is riding exceptionally well right now.
Gerry describes the action at the front of the bike race:
I’ve always enjoyed racing the American Ultra Cross Series Race, The Hilly Billy, near Morgantown, WV. The race is organized, the course is well marked, and the overall atmosphere is just a real good time. The course is set-up very similarly to the the roads and trails I use for training around my home. Additionally, I was kind of happy about the hot weather in the forecast because the heat doesn’t seem to affect me as much as it does to others. For these two reason, I thought there was a good chance of doing well overall at this race.
Once the race started and we headed up the first gravel climb, I was even more certain the race would go well for me, as I was able to escape the large park of about 300 riders in a small, fast group of about 7. We were all working to stay away and our pace stayed pretty smooth and consistent. And, even though I was on a singlespeed, I never felt like having only one gear made much of a difference.
After about 25 miles into the race, it seemed like a rider would drop off our small group on every major climb. Then, on the climb leading out of check point #2 about 38 miles into the race, Adam Driscoll and I were able to drop Garth Prosser and Ryan Leech. Mike Simonson was ahead of us at this point, but we caught him at check point #3 where we was repairing his second flat tire. From that point on, Adam and I knew the winner or the race was either going to be him or me.
I knew it would be difficult to beat Adam, since my bike was a single speed and the remainder of the course was fairly flat and fast. But, on the last section of muddy ATV double track trail, I was able to get the gap on Adam I needed.
Once I escaped from Adam, I put every ounce of energy I had left in my body into pushing my pedals and keeping my speed high. By the time I arrived at the finish, I had put 4 minutes on Adam and was very excited about riding across the finish line all alone. I’ve had a couple amazing weeks of racing in June and winning the past three races overall on a singlespeed is absolutely mind blowing to me.
See the Thom Parsons Dirtwire.com interview with Gerry.
Several other Team CF racers made podium appearances as well. In the Men’s Above 40 division, Jesse Kelly finished 3rd place good enough for 7th place overall. Team CF Pittsburgh rider Jim Mayuric finished just one minute behind Jesse to take 3rd in the Men’s Below 40 division good enough for 8th overall. Finally Team CF UltraCross specialist Stephanie Swan, who is recovering from an early June crash at a road race in Philly, was able to muster enough fitness for a solid 3rd place finish.
Full results here.