The argyle-clad Team CF came out swinging in Ducktown, Tennessee, at the Cohutta 100, the 100-mile National Ultra Endurance (NUE) mountain bike series opener on Saturday. Team CF, now in its sophomore year, has set its sites on dominating the expanded 2011 NUE series. If Saturday's race was any indication, the team will be visiting some more podiums in the near future.
The men's race came down to aid station 3, where Christian Tanguy broke away from the lead group to chase down Michael Simonson (Gary Fisher/SRAM/Notubes), who was on a flyer. Tanguy went on to a solo win.
Chris Beck, left alone with last year's series winner Jeff Schalk (Trek), began plotting his attack to ensure a Team CF one-two sweep.
"At aid station 5, Jeff slowed down to grab a bottle," said Beck. "I figured, I hadn't stopped at an aid station all day, why start now? I had about half a bottle and a shot at the impossible - beating Jeff Schalk in a 100-mile mountain bike race.
"I trained with Jeff this winter. I knew I was outclassed, but my new team, my supportive family and my new bike inspired me," said Beck, who was on an S-Works 29er. It worked. He attacked, Schalk couldn't answer. And team CF claimed first and second places.
On the women's side, Cheryl Sornson was hoping to take advantage of her early season race fitness coming off the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa to get a "W" in a race where she has been the bridesmaid twice.
"I came to Cohutta in the best shape I've ever been in this early in the season. I was gunning to hit eight hours and came in at 8:02:54, a personal best," said Sornson.
That PR wasn't enough to put her ahead of Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt), however, who turned on the heat in the second half to come in at a blistering 7:33:41.
"I lost her about mile 30. For the rest of the race, I tried to stay strong. It can be hard when you're out there by yourself in the dark moments of racing 100s. But being part of such an inspiring team sure helps."
Team CF was having a good weekend all around, not just at the Cohutta 100. In the team's home base of Pennsylvania, Nikki Thiemann took top spot in the cross country race at Mid-Atlantic Super Series (MASS) classic, Andrew Mein's Excellent Adventure, at Granogue on Sunday, while Selene Yeager clocked a dominating win in the four-hour enduro.
Also on Sunday, fresh off Saturday's PR at Cohutta, Sornson, who had somehow managed to make the overnight trip from Tennessee to Pennsylvania in time, was back racing on her home turf. She battled Sue Haywood in a sprint finish at the Michaux Maximus, slipping on a root in the chute and missing the "W" by one second.
The team's newcomers also excelled at the Mellow Johnny's Classic where Carolyn Popovic came in seventh and Brandon Draugelis pulled off 26th.
All of this makes Team CF founder, enduro racer, and "elite scientist" Dr. James Wilson a proud man. "Our elite mountain bike team is off to an amazing start," said Wilson. "I suspect part of this success relates to the motivation they gain through the courageous efforts of their teammates who are making it happen off the bike while living with CF."
The team races in support of those with cystic fibrosis.