Team CF had a strong showing in the 2012 mountain bike season with its elite racers Cheryl Sornson winning the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series women's overall and Christian Tanguy taking second among the men.
Run by Dr. Jim Wilson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Medical School, the team, which is wrapping up its third season, was put together to raise awareness and visibility for Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Wilson, an avid cyclist, has conducted CF research for over two decades.
"My experience with the bike industry has indeed been unlike anything I previously encountered," said Wilson. "However, we have settled on a group of bike sponsors who appreciate the unique attributes of the team. My biggest challenge is to find corporate sponsors to donate money. I consider it a privilege to manage this kind of non-profit and feed off the commitment and discipline of our full range of athletes from the elite cyclists who compete with (and often beat) professionals to our CF cyclists who overcome tremendous challenges to stay on the bike."
Wilson raced as an amateur mountain biker for many years and said his cycling experience helped him select his team's elite racers - those who can compete at a high level and also serve as ambassadors for the team.
"My formula is as follows: recruit talented cyclists who have solid family/friend support structures and treat them as professionals while providing them with a cause beyond just getting results," said Wilson.
"It is amazing to me how they juggle work, family/friends, training/rest, and racing/travel - they clearly love riding and racing bikes! I have also observed an interesting dynamic within the team, which is a mix of sincere camaraderie and healthy competition. My approach is to support them when they need support, encourage them when need encouragement and savor in their successes - no whips involved!"
Wilson considers the team a success with regard to its goal of raising awareness for CF. "I am absolutely delighted with the response we have seen from the cycling community about our team and its mission. I travel a lot with my job and run into people all over the country who have heard of Team CF."
Thus far, the team has focused on mountain biking and cyclo-cross. Wilson explained why. "The logistics and expense of running a road team are much greater and beyond our means. I also think mountain bike racing is under served in terms of national and regional level support and could use more support. Who knows where cyclo-cross is going, but it seems to be growing."
Team CF has a club team as well as an elite team, and each year the club portion grows.
Looking ahead, Wilson said, "We will continue to support a focused group of elite cyclists while encouraging our amateur athletes to establish grass roots regional teams. Team CF is also an integral part of a nationwide collection of cycling benefits called Cycle for Life which raises money for CF research. These benefits raised $2 million in year two with a goal of bringing in $10 million/year at steady state. We also plan to liaison with regional CF health care providers to encourage exercise in those living with CF."