Post race interviews with BelGioioso Elite podium finishers after the muddy season opener at the 2012 Iola Bump & Jump. This week, we asked each of the finishers if they had a question for WORS Series Director Don Edberg. Don’s answers are at the end.Want more? WORS Media roundup for Iola:
Strigel and Matter win 2012 WORS season opener in Iola.
Race report by Claire Cannon
Abby Strigel (HoneyStinger / Bontrager) and Brian Matter (GearGrinder / Trek) won the first race of the Wisconsin Off Road Series, in Iola, WI on Sunday. Heavy rains left the usually sandy course water-logged and muddy, giving extra incentive for a fast leadout over Iola’s start climbs into the first sections of singletrack. In the women’s race, Strigel was already alone and working her way through the tail end of the men’s Elite field before she hit singletrack.
“I was going to stick with everyone, and see how it went, but I felt OK and just decided to go,” said Strigel. “Sometimes it’s harder in singletrack when there are more people around and it’s that muddy. So I thought it would be easier if I just got away. And I ran into a lot of Elite men. There was a lot of running. But, that was OK because I just ran straight through the puddles that other people were trying to go around.”
At the front of the men’s race, the field was spread out early by Strigel’s teammate Matt Shriver, who set a blistering pace over the initial climbs.
“I can start pretty hard and definitely went a little too far into the red today,” said Shriver. “I like to get out in front and not have to bump bars with anybody or get gapped out at the front because there’s always a selection. If you’re too far back, you’re going to miss the group so it’s nice to get out front and stay out of trouble.”
The mud at Iola derailed his game plan as the entire field hit an extremely steep climb out of the ski jump bowl, and everyone was forced to dismount and run through the mud. Brian Matter, Mark Lalonde (T6/Lalonde Brothers) and Issac Neff (Williamson Bike Works) moved into the lead. Also making the initial selection were Shriver, Nathan Guerra (Wheel & Sprocket / Vision) and Kevin McConnell (Mercy-Specialized). By the middle of the second lap, Matter and Lalonde had opened a 30-second gap, and then Matter broke away for a solo effort.
“I just kind of wanted to go to the front,” said Matter. “I just let the skills take over and started having fun. Too much fun, maybe, because I burped a tire in the second lap and had to be careful after that.”
Matter was riding a Trek Top Fuel as usual, but not his own bike. In fact, he borrowed his wife Andrea’s bike for the race at Iola.
“I’m riding the boss’s bike,” joked Matter. “I had to change my tires Friday because they were worn from Arizona, and on race day I was a little nervous about them holding pressure. So, I figured this bike was ready to go, and the small size was good for handling skills.”
Matter cruised in for the win at 1:35:36. Behind him, Shriver was chasing hard and overtook Lalonde for 2nd in 1:36:29. Lalonde (1:36:59), who took third in his return to WORS after a break from competition of nearly two years, held off relative newcomer Isaac Neff (1:37:52). Nathan Guerra (1:38:17) rounded out the podium in fifth place by edging out Mike Phillips (1:38:26) in the final stretch.
In the women’s race, Strigel was untouchable at 1:29:52. Adventure 212 teammates Lisa Krayer (1:33:37), Diana McFadden (1:35:07), Michelle Peariso (1:37:23) and Sarah Agena-Wright (1:38:10) rounded out the women’s podium in 2nd through 5th place.
Despite the downpour, the Iola Bump & Jump was well-attended by WORS Series racers. WORS has declared 2012 “The Year of the Junior” in support of youth competition in the Upper Midwest, and welcomed a large starting field of younger racers of all ability levels at Iola. A new women’s Open was also well attended, with some competitors new to the Series riding well within the Elite field. The Series will race again in two weeks outside Rhinelander at the Crystal Lake Classic, where Brian Matter, a coach with MomentumEndurance LLC, will be leading a special Expert level Learn to Race Clinic.