From June 21 to 23, Cameron Valier Cogburn G competed in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Cycling Classic and walked (or rode) away in first place with the yellow jersey. He came into the final stage of the four-stage race weekend in fourth place overall and 40 seconds behind the leader. Cogburn made up significant time on the last climb of the race to finish eighth in the stage and win the professional men’s category by six seconds.
Cogburn is a second-year graduate student in the physics department who came to MIT after completing his undergraduate degree (also in physics) at Cornell University. After graduating, he became a member of the Jelly Belly professional cycling squad, one of the most successful teams on the U.S. circuit.
As a member of the MIT cycling team, he won the criterium and time trial at the MIT X-Pot in March and took first at the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) championship road race at Penn State in April. To conclude an impressive collegiate season, Cogburn won the road race at the Division II Collegiate Road Nationals competition by dropping all competition on the major climb of the race and riding solo to the finish. Cogburn is known to be a talented climbing specialist, and won the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in 2012 with the second-fastest time in history.
This year marked the 11th and final occurrence of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, which is known for its exhilarating, scenic routes through the Cascade Mountains and Columbia River Gorge. Mt. Hood is a stage race (like the Tour de France) that draws many professional cyclists from around the country. In three days, racers completed two road races, a time trial, and a criterium. Stage 2, the Scenic Gorge Time Trial, is claimed to be one of the most beautiful courses on the professional circuit. Cogburn finished third in the time trial, which put him in position to win coming into the fourth and final stage on Sunday. His win was especially impressive because, unlike many other riders, he competed without the support of any teammates, who might have provided a tactical advantage.
Sunday’s road race, the Three Summits Road Race, took riders through the Mt. Hood National Forest for 146 kilometers and 3,200 meters of climbing. Coming into the final stage just 40 seconds behind the leader, Cogburn conserved his energy for most of the race by riding in a group. Then, during the final hill climb he caught the defending leader and beat him by 46 seconds to earn the general classification yellow jersey.