Despite Davide Frattini’s (Team Hudz/Subaru) two wins at the Charm City ‘Cross in Baltimore, Valentin Scherz leads the Elite Men’s point standings for the Champion System MAC Series as he continues his quest for his second straight MAC title heading into this weekend’s WhirlyBird Cross. Scherz also leads the U23 Category with his Cyfac-Champion System teammate Anthony Grand currently residing in second place in the U23 and third place in the Elite Men.
Laura Van Gilder, who is a perfect three-for-three this season, leads the Elite Women ahead of this year’s breakout performer Kristin Gavin. Van Gilder’s C3-Athletes Serving Athletes team also lead the team standings.
In the other Elite Classes, Stephan Kincaid’s two wins in Baltimore has given the Philadelphia Ciclismo rider the early lead in the Elite Masters division ahead of Ralf Warmuth (Highland Park Hermes), who also leads the Elite 45+ division. Meanwhile, in the Elite Junior’s points chase, Jeff Bahnson (Van Dessel Factory Team), Sam O’Keefe and Gunnar Bergey (both of C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) are in the reflect the same 1-2-3 order in which they have finished all three races.
This weekend’s WhirlyBird Cross at Pennsylvania’s Bryn Athyn College should see some changes in the point standings as a number of competitors are taking advantage of the non-UCI status of the race to swap classes for the weekend. U19 leader Jeff Bahnson will forego the Elite Junior race to compete against Scherz and Grand and the other Elite Men. Also joining the youngsters in the Elite race will be Masters strongman Mike Yozell (PA Valleys). Bahnson is no stranger to racing with the Elite Men, he nearly beat Jeremiah Bishop in a sprint two years ago, and often chooses to race the seniors whenever the rules allow. Likewise Yozell, who’s wife and PA Valleys teammate Erica leads the Masters Women points chase, occasionally competes the Elite Men’s race; though not as frequently as several years ago when he routinely competed in both the Elite Men’s and Elite Masters races in the same day. After three fast, dusty races favoring the riders who had the speed on the hard ground, the points may also get a shake-up from the year’s first potential soggy race with showers predicted on race day.
Historic Venue. Champion System MAC competitors will experience a fully modern, and historic, venue at this weekend’s WhirlyBird ‘Cross at Bryn Athyn College near Philadelphia. Taking place near the college’s Asplundh Field athletic facility, racers will have access to the athlete locker rooms and showers. The race will also feature the modern notion of fully equally prize lists for the Elite Men and Women. Yet the venue has historic overtones as well, especially to those with a fascination for aviation technology history. And that history leads directly one of the more unusual race names in cyclocross.
In addition to the neighboring and architecturally famous Bryn Athyn (pronounced “Brin Athen”) Cathedral, the college property is the site of what is regarded as the birthplace of rotary wing flight in the United States. It was first used as an aircraft landing field in 1916 and aviation pioneer Harold Pitcairn, whose family was one of the guiding forces behind both the Cathedral and College, made the first rotary-wing flight in America in the pictured autogiro on December 18, 1928, hence the name “WhirlyBird” for the cyclocross race. By that time, Pitcairn Field was already a thriving aircraft design and manufacturing facility (and track bicycle racers, especially those who raced in the 6-days races at Madison Square Garden, were the most highly paid professional athletes in America). After outgrowing the facility in Bryn Athyn, Pitcairn moved his airfield and aircraft manufacturing business a few miles to the east and a facility that grew into the Willow Grove Naval Air Base.