Barriers at Monster Cross. Keith Hower

Barriers at Monster Cross. © Keith Hower

by Keith Hower

Once again, the Northeast has had a rainy lead-up to the weekend’s racing. The Pittsburgh region has had several days of non-stop rain which finally let up late Friday afternoon, just in time for promoter J.R. Petsko to layout a mud-riddled, tight and technical course in Morgantown, WV.  Day one of Monster Cross was not only round two of the ABRA CX Series, but it also served as the West Virginia State Cyclocross Championships, with residents of West Virginia being crowned all day long in their respective classes.

The first major race of the day was the Single Speed Open class, which once again attracted a stacked field and resulted in some great racing. Steve Cummings (C3 twenty20) and Gunnar Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy) attacked off the front within the first quarter lap of racing. By the conclusion of the first lap, Cummings whipped up a large gap and seemingly put the race on cruse from that point, the same went for Gunnar who settled in for a distant second and a solid-riding William Westover (Thick Bikes) in third.

The muddy course made for exciting racing. © Keith Hower

The muddy course made for exciting racing. © Keith Hower

The real race was for the fourth place spot on the course, in which an epic three-way battle unfolded over the course of the entire race. Steve Bedilion (CAT Racing), John Heffner (Iron City) and Marc Glass (Breakaway Velo) traded paint for the first 20 minutes of the race until Heffner lifted his cadence and slowly opened up a gap over Glass and Bedilion. With the top four spots locked in by the start of the last lap, the battle for fifth heated up. Bedilion turned up the pressure on Glass, but was unable to get around the determined Breakaway Velo rider. Bedilion landed the final podium position with an unmatched attack on the final pavement section just a few turns before the finish earning himself a hard fought fifth.

State Champion-wise, Gunnar Shogren landed the Gold medal, a well-deserved Silver Medal went to Marc Glass, and the Bronze to Steve Harouff (Joey’s Bike Shop).

The Women’s 1/2/3 field also took to the course just behind the Single Speed Open race. Betsy Shogren put the pedal to the medal right from the get go and didn’t let off, even after a spectacular mid-race crash that sent her over the bars, she kept the pace at full gas and opened up a commanding lead on her rivals and took the overall win, as well as claiming the Women’s State Championship. Gray Patton (Carbon Racing) overcame her bad luck suffered at Kickoff CX and rode in for a 2nd place, while a Under the Weather Traci Rodosta rounded out the podium in third, while also winning the Women’s Silver Medal

The runup added extra challenge to the day. © Keith Hower

The runup added extra challenge to the day. © Keith Hower

The final showdown of the day was the Men’s 1/2/3 field and by the time they took to the course, all the turns, straights and run-ups were all multi-lined or tore up from the constant abuse from rider’s cleats.  Following the theme of the day, Kevin Kralik (University of Pitt) rode off the front early using his great mud skills in opening up over a 2 minute gap over second place’s Gunnar Shogren.  Michael Vanderberg (Twin Six) and Gerry Pflug (Salsa/NoTubes/TopGear) diced it up during the interior part of the race, with Vanderberg getting the better of Pflug and locked up a 3rd place on the day. Pflug came home in fourth and Jordan Villella (Hammer Nutrition) rounded out the podium in fifth after a determined ride from the back.

Gunnar Shogren earned his second gold medal of the day, Michael Vanderberg won the silver, and Bradley Schmalzer retained the Bronze.

Warming temps, sunshine and high winds started to dry the course out later in the evening, and helped change the course conditions drastically for day two of Morgantown Monster Cross ABRA #3.

Single Speed Open

1.     Stephen Cumming (C3 Twenty20)

2.     Gunnar Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy)  (State Champion)

3.     William Westover (Thick Bikes)

The men's podium. © Keith Hower

The men's podium. © Keith Hower

Women’s 1/2/3

1.     Betsy Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy) (State Champion)

2.     Gray Patton (Carbon Racing)

3.     Traci Rodosta (Breakaway Velo)

Men’s 1/2/3

1.     Kevin Kralik (University of Pitt)

2.     Gunnar Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy) (State Champion)

3.     Michael Vanderberg (Twin Six)