Northeast Racers were treated to true 'cross weather © Keith Hower

by Keith Hower

On a weekend where the entire Northeast experienced cold and rainy conditions, J.R. Petsko and the rest of the Appalachian Bike Racing Association (ABRA) were blessed with wonderful cyclocross conditions. The second annual Kickoff Cross attracted some of the best ’cross riders in the Pittsburgh Region to a soggy, wet, and technical course that settled right on the Mason-Dixon Line. The poor weather conditions undoubtedly arose in every conversation, but they weren’t enough to hold back Mike Mihalik, Gunner Shrogen, and Traci Rodosta from powering to victory.

The Women’s 1/2/3 race was one of the day’s earlier races. Traci Rodosta (Breakaway Velo) took command right from the gun and by the end of the first lap had established a gap over her fellow competitors Samantha Brode (Top Gear) and Gray Patton (Top Gear). The race for second was short lived though, as Gray Patton flatted halfway through the first lap and was forced to run a majority of the course before entering the pits, dropping her out of podium contention. As the race pedaled on, Brode was able to keep the pressure on and keep Rodsota honest all the way until the final stages of the race. In the end, however, it was the mistake-free riding of Rodsota, who rolled across the finish first with a sizeable gap and the victory. Samantha Brode crossed the line in second and Chrissy Buerkle rounded out the podium in third.

Gunner Shogren took the Single Speed title © Keith Hower

Another racing category gaining in popularity is the Romantic Single Speed Class. Gunner Shrogen (Dynamic Physical Therapy) went wire to wire to claim the Series opener, but not with ease as William Westover (Thick Bikes) matched Gunner’s pace for the majority of the race, causing both of the riders to press their pace and open over a 1 minute gap on eventual third place finisher Donald Powers (Pro Bikes/Twin Six).

The final race of the day was the Men’s Elite 1/2/3 race. It featured an extremely sloppy course as well as some of the region’s best talent. Single Speed winner Gunner Shrogen went down in the first turn, creating a gap for the first handful of riders over the rest of the field. Kevin Kralik (University of Pitt) got out to an early lead with Mike Mihalik (Freddy Fu) in second and Andy Gorski (Pro Bikes) in third. Kralik and Mihalik traded turns at the front of the race until they had a sizeable gap, then proceeded to race each other.

“Kevin was really hurting me through the barriers and on the run-up, but I was a little stronger on the one long power section. That is where I started to get a gap on him, about halfway through the race,” said Mihalik, the self-proclaimed mudder.

Mike Mihalik kept the pressure on and never relented. By the bell lap, he pushed the gap to over a minute on the fading Kralik. Mihalik able to cruse the last lap and synch his first ’cross victory of his 2011 campaign. Kralik slogged in for a solid second place while a hard charging Gunner Shrogen (Dynamic Physical Therapy) snuck past Andy Gorksi in the waning laps for third, Gorksi fourth and Michael Vanderberg (Twin Six/Backyard Bikes) fifth.

“The conditions for the 1/2/3 race were pretty bad,” said Mihalik. “The course had deteriorated significantly over the course of the day, which played into my favor…sometimes I really struggle when it’s cold and raining. If I can stay fairly warm I’m usually good, luckily, I was able to stay warm!”

Kickoff Cross was the first of an eight round series promoted by JR Petsko and stretches from October to early December. Rounds twp and three, Morgantown Monster Cross, will take place on October 15 & 16, in Morgantown, WV.

Women’s 1/2/3

  1. Traci Rodosta (Breakaway Velo)
  2. Samantha Brode (Top Gear)
  3. Chrissy Buerkle (Dynamic Physical Therapy)
  4. Stephanie Swan (Iron City Bikes)

Single Speed Open

  1. Gunner Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy)
  2. William Westover (Thick Bikes)
  3. Donald Powers (Pro Bikes/Twin Six)
  4. Steve Bedilion (Cat Velo)
  5. John Heffner (Iron City Bikes

Men’s 1/2/3

  1. Mike Mihalik (Freddie Fu)
  2. Kevin Kralik (University of Pitt)
  3. Gunner Shogren (Dynamic Physical Therapy)
  4. Andy Gorski (Pro Bikes)
  5. Michael Vanderberg (Twin Six/Backyard Bike Club)
  6. Chris Mayhew (JBV Coaching)
  7. Justin Pokrivka
  8. Jake Grantham (Team ME)
  9. Ryan Nye (MVP Healthcare)
  10. Kevin Wahila