Chevy Truck gives Gerken a ride |

Chevy Truck gives Gerken a ride

Steve Yingling

Matt Gerken didn’t let a missing sponsorship derail his pro mountain biking career this summer. The Stateline rider’s perseverance was recently rewarded when Chevy Truck’s ZR2/Trebon team signed him through next season.

“I’m really happy. It really caught me off guard, but I believe I have the talent to get on a team,” said the 21-year-old Gerken who rode solo this season after spending the past three years with Team Devo. “Being a privateer I think they really saw me working at it and found it in their budget and picked me up.”

Besides having his airfare, food, mechanic and lodging paid for, Gerken can give his parents’ overworked motor home a rest.

“It will be a 100 times easier now. It’s definitely going to make it easier on my parents, so they don’t have to make all of my races. I’m just lucky to have great parents that were able to do this for me,” Gerken said.

Gerken made a successful debut for the Chevy Truck team earlier this month in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Competing in the Mercury Tour Mountain Bike Race, Gerken finished 10th overall – third American – in a 1.15-mile prologue. He set the early pace, remaining in the leader’s tent until veteran riders overtook him. Russian Pavel Tcherkassove of Diamondback Racing won the prologue in 4 minutes and 1 second, 12 seconds ahead of Gerken.

Gerken’s initial success continued throughout the five-day tour as he placed first for U-23 riders and fifth among Americans.

“After the national in Breckenridge, (Colo.), Chevy’s team manager told me he’d like me to go along with the team for the Tour of the Rockies since the whole team was going to be there. It was a last-minute deal, so there was no pressure for me to do well,” Gerken said.

Even while soloing on the National Off-Road Bicycling Association Series, Gerken was pleased with his performances.

“It’s been kind of a tough year racing as a privateer, but I’ve had a very consistent season. I’m second in my age category and I’ve been consistently in the top 20, which I’m real happy with,” he said.

Gerken’s sponsorship couldn’t have come a better time with several expensive trips forthcoming. He’ll compete in the NORBA National Championships this weekend in Mount Snow, Vt. and then head to the world championships Sept. 18 in Mount St. Anne, Quebec.

In between, Gerken will join 22 other American bikers for two weeks of training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. He hopes that experience will lead to one-year residency program at the training center beginning this winter.

South Shore’s Shaun Palmer and Amber Ramos will join Gerken in Mount Snow for this week’s national championships.

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