LaVesser and House Triumph in the Mud

The Wisconsin-Off Road Series made it’s 8th stop on the tour in the bluffs of La Crosse where racers searched for crucial series points and a good time! Despite the recent flooding in the western part of the Badgerland, the race course held up fairly well. Some adjustments were made in the lower lands but nevertheless the volunteers and the WORS staff made sure the course held up to its name. The Hixon Forest Epic flowed up and down the bluffs while snaking through the forest challenging every racer to his or her maximum capabilities.

 

The Pro/Elite Women’s field had an extra challenge though, as Mother Nature threw in a curveball showering the racers with rain and high winds just before the start of the race. Off the start, Mckenna Dwyer(ASU Devo) took control and scored the hole shot, while veteran riders like Leia Schneeberger(Broken Spoke Racing) and Anna Ganju(Colectivo Coffee) worked into the race and the long lead out. Schneeberger wanted to control the race and to test out the singletrack as she jumped in the lead for the first section. The Hixon Forest hero dirt turned into a very greasy and slick clay exploiting a racer’s skill level and mental fitness to overcome the adversity. One racer who shined was Neff Cycle Service’s Holly LaVesser. LaVesser a typically slower starter, grabbed her tool belt and hard hat and went to work. She was able to find a groove in the mud and chip away eventually catching Ganju, Dwyer and soon enough Schneeberger who was suffering from a muddy mechanical. LaVesser would go on to win the race with almost eight minutes on the rest of the field! Dwyer in her inaugural season as an Elite racer finished in second while Schneeberger took home the bronze. Seasoned rider Ganju finished fourth while Kristina Navarro(Neff Cycle Service) rounded out the top five respectively.

 

Mother Nature also tested the Pro/Elite Men’s field with the abundance of mud. Many men sought comfort in complaining but strong cross racers like Issac Neff(Neff Cycle Service) and Caleb Swartz(Linear Sport/Trek) were excited for a muddy battle. Mother Nature caught many by surprise as there was no time to change tires so racers had to compensate by bringing out their best handling skills. Off the start, Cole House(Broken Spoke Racing) developed a sizable gap on the chase group of Pete Karinen(Broken Spoke Racing), Mark LaLonde(Free Wheel Bike), Neff and Swartz. As the men began to find the rhythm in the grease, Neff and Karinen started to pull away. Just as they opened it up, Karinen took a hard spill leaving Neff by himself. Neff’s all around good tire choice and his experience in the mud propelled him to the front catching House in the middle of the race. House struggled to stick with Neff on the climbs as he would continue to lose traction and spin out but felt that he could handle his own in the single. House’s main goal was to not let Neff out of sight and as the course began to dry up, House reeled him in. With about a mile and a half to go, House began to hit it hard, every chance he could get. Neff could feel the legs quiver as he couldn’t find an answer. House dug deep on the last open section to seal the deal for the win while Neff rode in for silver, just 10 seconds off the mark. Minnesota’s LaLonde finished in third while Karinen filed in fourth. Rounding out the top five, was Swartz respectively.  

 

Photo courtesy of xtrphoto.com

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