Last Sunday the Wisconsin Off Road Series(WORS) traveled to the western part of the state for the Hixon Forest Epic. The 7th race of the WORS season took place on a gorgeous day in the Hixon Forest encompassed by the bluffs of LaCrosse. This WORS course was like no other beginning with a long gravel downhill lead out that had racers reaching top speeds. Once competitors reached the bottom of the bluff, they began the roughly 15 minute switchback climb back to the top where it was a half mile road time trial to the singletrack. Once racers reached the singletrack it had all of the rocks and roots one could only image making racers cling to the handle bars as they navigated through the woods.
The BelGioioso Men’s Elite race was missing one of the WORS regulars and overall series leader Nathan Guerra(Vision Cycling/ Ryder 930) due to a broken collarbone but that didn’t stop this race from being a hard fought battle. Off the start, Pete Karinen(True North Apparel) strategically led the field down the bluff but sat in once they reached the bottom. As soon as they entered the Vista Climb, Karinen took over the lead again with a group of four following behind. He was able to establish a gap when Minnesota racer Dominic Talerico(Angry Catfish) surged hard along the next large climb. Behind the two leaders, Ben Senkerik(Team Extreme) and Caleb Swartz(Team Wisconsin) were riding together when they came up upon Talerico along the side of the trail fixing an unfortunate flat tire. Senkerik, feeling excited to have passed Talerico, picked up the pace causing Swartz to fall off the back. Impressively, Talerico was able to catch Swartz and soon after caught Senkerik as well. It was too late for him to pick off one more as Karinen gapped the rest of the field for his first ever WORS elite win. Talerico and Senkerik sprinted to the line for second and third with Swartz finishing fourth. Honorary mention to Ray Nelson who rounded out the top five.
The BelGioioso Women’s field once again was dominated by Leia Schneeberger(Broken Spoke Racing) but the young sensation, Emma Swartz(KS Energy/ Team Wisconsin) made sure it wasn’t a cakewalk. Off the start, Anna Ganju(Colectivo Coffee) led out the women but her lead was overtaken by Lindsey Guerra(Vision Cycling/ Ryder 930) who led the women down the gravel road. At the start of the vista climb, Schneeberger jumped to the front, hoping to slow the field down as they climbed back to the top. Swartz passed Schneeberger about halfway up the climb and began to open a gap. The overall Series leader was able to pull Swartz back in on the road section where they entered the singletrack wheel on wheel. Schneeberger tactically chose where she would make her move choosing the A-line through a rock garden to take the lead as Swartz took the B-line. With the adrenaline pumping, she was able to extend her lead to finish almost 3 minutes ahead of Swartz who finished second. Guerra was ahead of Ganju until the last lap when she began to suffer from a slow front tire leak. Ganju passed Guerra to finish third with Guerra fourth. Rounding out the top five was Lisa Krayer(Adventure 212/Specialized).
For results for the Hixon Forest Epic visit http://wors.org/results/
Join WORS for race #8, The Reforestation Ramble in Green Bay, WI. For more information visit http://wors.org/schedule/reforestation-ramble/