As cyclocross becomes more popular in the US, European racers are starting to hear our cowbells and coming to see what all the noise is about. The Philadelphia Cyclocross School has been founded to meet some of the needs of these overseas ‘crossers wanting some extended time on US soil.
by Jed Kornbluh, director of Philadelphia Cyclocross School
Philadelphia, PA – Valentin Scherz will return to defend his 2009 MAC Series title and this year he’s bringing reinforcements. Scherz, who last year conquered the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross Series, will be joined by fellow Swiss national Anthony Grand to defend his series title, with a few stops at select USGP events, as well as Cross Vegas and more.
Scherz and Grand will fly the colors of the Philadelphia Cyclocross School (PCS), a new concept team that pairs cultural exchange and high-caliber racing in an effort to open the American cycling community to riders from overseas. The mission of PCS is two-fold: Introduce a group of young and talented European cyclocross riders to American culture while working toward establishing a greater professional cyclocross racing presence in the United States. Through a 12-week home stay culture immersion program, PCS hosts European cyclists in the Philadelphia area to grow local awareness of the sport, foster competition to strengthen US cyclocross, and create lifelong cultural ties.
The program started as more of a kind gesture than an altruistic vision just over a year ago. David Berson, a co-founder of PCS, learned of a young rider, Swiss national Valentin Scherz, seeking host housing while competing in the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross (MAC) Series. Reminded of his 1991 summer spent in Europe with Team Hill Cycle, Berson hoped to extend a similar helping hand as his host family had done so many years ago. The Berson family contacted Scherz and months later he arrived at their doorstep ready to race and learn more about life as an American. As the weeks passed, Valentin’s English greatly improved thanks to his participation in the Bersons’ daily routines – he helped with the children, cooked family meals and participated in family outings, all while maintaining his training schedule and rest between sessions.
The result: Valentin won the MAC Series and gave some of the best professional riders in the US a serious run for the title of several regional races, including Wissahickon Cyclocross, Cyclocross at Granogue and the USGP Mercer County Cup. “Without the support of the Berson family, the numerous wins and winning the MAC title would not have been,” remarked Scherz.
Thanks to the success of the 2009 season, David Berson and race promoter and industry veteran Jed Kornbluh have launched PCS to gather more riders and continue to build a larger program. Several sponsors have stepped up to aid their endeavor, including Cyfac Bicycles, Revolution WheelWorks, Champion System, Ritchey Design, Fizik, Cycling Captured, Tandems East, Dr. Barry Wahner Chiropractic, Draftmaster, Swiss Stop, MAC Cyclocross Series and VelocityNation.
Sponsorship opportunities still exist for the team. Interested parties should contact Jed Kornbluh at [email protected] for more information.
For more about Valentin Scherz, check out Cyclocross Magazine’s profile of the young rider.
Fore more information on PCS sponsors:
Bicycles: Cyfac (http://www.cyfac.fr/)
Wheels: Revolution WheelWorks (http://www.revolutionwheelworks.com/)
Clothing: Champion System (www.champ-sys.com/)
Components: Ritchey Design (http://www.ritcheylogic.com/)
Saddles: Fizik (www.fizik.com/)
Mechanical Services: Mark Purdy @ Ifixbyx (www.ifixbyx.com/)
Photography: Cycling Captured (http://www.cyclingcaptured.com/)
Components: Tandems East (www.tandemseast.com/)
Wellness: Dr. Barry Wahner Chiropractic (http://www.drwahner.com/)
Rack Systems: Draftmaster (http://www.atoc.com/)
Brake Pads: Swiss Stop (http://www.helvetiasports.com/)
Official Media Sponsor: VelocityNation (www.velocitynation.com)
For more information on PCS, see us on Facebook and Twitter (@PhillyCXSchool)