This week we have news coming out of Philadelphia about a truly unique program that intends to combine cross-cultural immersion with cyclocross racing. Sort of like high school exchange student programs, but a whole lot cooler. The Philadelphia Cyclocross School (PCS) is essentially a cyclocross team charged with the mission of, “pairing cultural exchange and high-caliber racing in an effort to open the American cycling community to riders from overseas.”
The mission of PCS is two-fold: Introduce a group of young and talented European cyclocross riders to American culture while working toward establishing a greater professional cyclocross racing presence in the United States. Through a 12-week home stay culture immersion program, PCS hosts European cyclists in the Philadelphia area to grow local awareness of the sport, foster competition to strengthen US Cyclocross, and create lifelong cultural ties.
The basic idea began last year when Swiss national rider Valentin Scherz was looking for housing so he could compete in the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross (MAC) Series. Such housing arrangements are rather common in Europe, but basically non-existent in the US. David Berson, co-founder of PCS, did something similar in 1991 when he spent the summer racing with Team Hill Cycle in Europe. Berson and his family heard about Scherz, and opened up their Philadelphia-area home to him for the 2009 season. Aside from going on to win the MAC Series, Scherz became immersed in American culture…improving his English, cooking family meals, going on vacation with the family, etc.
Seeking to build upon the personal and professional success of Scherz, Berson teamed with industry veteran and race promoter Jed Kornbluh to develop a team based around the principle of “cultural exchange via cyclocross.” Thus, Philadelphia Cyclocross School was born.
Scherz is returning for the 2010 season, and will be joined by fellow Swiss national Anthony Grand on the PCS team. Kornbluh and Berson plan to grow the team this year by bringing in more riders and sponsors. Team sponsors already include: Cyfac Bicycles, ifixbyx.com, Revolution WheelWorks, Champion System, Ritchey Design, Fizik, Cycling Captured, Tandems East, Dr. Barry Wahner Chiropractic, Draftmaster, Swiss Stop, MAC Cyclocross Series and VelocityNation.
More information about Philadelphia Cyclocross School can be found on their Facebook page.