by Keith Hower
Cummings, Mihalik, and Pflug get away early. © Keith Hower
Murrysville Cyclocross always means mud and as the only PA Cycling event in the Western part of the state, it’s a very desirable race to take part in. This year, for the first time in the race’s existence, Murrysville was held under a cloudless sky with dry course conditions. Betsy Shogren and Stephen Cummings were able to make the most of the conditions and take the rare PACX points.
The Women’s Open race was the penultimate race on the day. With a mid-sized field taking to the line and a nice payout posted, the racing was sure to be exciting. The ladies took off and in typical Betsy Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy) fashion, she put herself into the leader’s position with a sizable gap over second place and once again rode away with the win. Gray Patton (Top Gear), who has been improving all season, kept within eyesight of Shogren and in front of Traci Rodosta (Breakaway Velo) for a majority of the race. A lot of the good race action was more towards the middle of the pack, where the “race within a race” action was going down, but in the end it was Shogren taking the big win, followed by Patton in second and Rodosta in third.
The Men’s 1/2/3 race was the last field to take to the starting line on the day and proved to be worth the year-long wait for a Stephen Cummings (C3 p/b Twenty20) / Mike Mihalik (Freddie Fu) rematch. Both riders have been enjoying some success this year on the UCI/MAC/MABRA race circuit, but had yet to have a “head’s up” race against each other. Murrysville provided that opportunity.
The race was on from the gun with a start that was almost an all-out drag race for the first 400 meters. As the pack came into the ride up for the first time, Cummings set the pace followed closely by Mihalik, Gerry Pflug (Salsa/NoTubes), Michael Vanderberg (Twin Six) and Brett Rothmeyer (Pro Bikes). Cummings and Mihalik broke away from the five-man pack soon after and kept it in high gear. For 52 minutes, both leaders traded blows in what seemed to be more of a chess match then a race, with no real luck in establishing a gap over one another.
“I counter attacked him with everything I had going up that uphill stretch and got a gap. I figured that if I could hold it until the pavement, I could stay away the final lap… I pushed hard out of the barriers and went as hard as I could up the pavement,” said Cummings of his late race move.
Cummings kept the pressure on and held it wide open the last lap earning himself the win over Mihalik.
Mihalik said after the race, “I attacked several times, he attacked several times. His finally stuck.”
The PACX series continues next week with Crossasaurus Awesome, held in Spring Mount, PA. on November 13, 2011.
1. Betsy Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy)
2. Gray Patton (Top Gear)
3. Traci Rodosta (Breakaway Velo)
1. Stephen Cummings (C3 p/b Twenty20)
2. Mike Mihalik (Freddie Fu)
3. Gerry Pflug (Salsa/NoTubes)
4. Brett Rothmeyer (Pro Bikes)
5. Michael Vanderberg (Twin Six)
6. John Heffner (Iron City)
7. Keith Hower (DPS Penn /Cannondale)
8. Craig Merritts (PGH Elite Velo/Cat)
9. Steve Brewer (AG3R)
10. Matt Tinky (HighlandTraining.net/Maxxis/Butler Bicycle