Matter and Strigel two-for-two in 2012 WORS SeriesFormer Champion Lalonde breaks out the big gear for return to WORS racing.
By Claire Cannon
The second race of the Subaru-sponsored Wisconsin Off Road Series started fast on a parched, sandy course and sprinted to the line in a bracing downpour. Brian Matter (Gear Grinder / Trek) and Abby Strigel (Honey Stinger/ Bontrager ) rode through it all to take the win in their respective BelGiosioso Elite Series races. In total, 577 competitors raced on Sunday in ability categories ranging from First Timer to Pro, including 126 Juniors under the age of 17.
"It was very hard today, but I always love coming up to Rhinelander," said Matter. "It's one of the best and most physically demanding courses in the WORS series."
Even before the race began, the BelGioioso Elite men's start line welcomed back former WORS Elite Champion Jesse Lalonde. Lalonde (Lalonde Brothers Racing / T6), racing for the first time in two years, chose a rigged single speed, the same bike setup he rode to an undefeated season in 2009.
"It's a little tricky with the gearing here, with the wide-open stuff and the start," said Lalonde. "It can get pretty fast, so I kind of have to gear towards that."
Lalonde went with a 36:16.
"It's a gear I usually reserve for something like this, with a longer lead-out," explained Lalonde. "I can actually get on top of it better now than I used to in the singletrack. But rarely would I run something that big in the WORS Series."
The rest of the field also brought their big gears for Rhinelander's long, gravel lead out. The pace was high from “Go!”, spurred on by Mike Phillips (Adventure 212 / Specialized) at the front. Soon after entering the singletrack, the lead group was reduced to Phillips, Matter, Nathan Guerra (Wheel and Sprocket / Vision), Lalonde and relative newcomer Joe Maloney (KS Energy Services / Team Wisconsin). By the middle of the second lap, only Guerra, Matter and Lalonde remained and a sudden, cold downpour had wet the course and passed.
In the fourth and final lap, the rain returned and Matter turned on the gas to ride away from Guerra and Lalonde.
"The last lap, I just kept going harder, and harder, and harder until I got a gap," said Matter. "The gap opened slowly, but then that was it."
Matter rolled in alone at 2:07:27, followed by Guerra (2:07:43) and Lalonde (2:07:57). Tyler Guathier (2:11:11) and Justin Piontek (2:11:20) rounded out the podium steps.
In the women's race, Robin Williams (Mercy-Specialized) challenged defending Champion Abby Strigel at the start.
"She's really fast, and a great climber,” said Strigel. “She attacked on the first really big hill on the lead out and just dropped me. I chased after her and caught her in the singletrack. Then I just did anything I could to get rid of her. But there are quite a few climbs and she was hanging on. I know she likes the hot weather, too. So I was just thinking 'she's loving this!', while I was waiting for the skies to open."
By the end of her first lap, Strigel was alone and still hoping for rain to cool the parched, dusty afternoon. She got her wish midway through her second lap.
"Once it rained, that was just awesome," said Strigel. The rain may have helped Strigel to maintain her lead over Williams, who was careful in the rapidly changing conditions. Strigel finished three laps of the course in 1:50:16, nearly five minutes ahead of second place (1:55:15). Chasing from behind were teammates Lisa Krayer (1:57:37), and Sarah Agena-Wright (1:58:01; Adventure 212 / Specialized) with Lori Sable (1:58:19).
In the first two races of the Series, Matter and Strigel have seemed unbeatable. For the women, Strigel just might be untouchable. However, the next few races could shake things up for the men. Defending Champion Tristan Schouten has not yet raced. Mike Phillips and Nathan Guerra have challenged but left hungry for results. Perhaps the biggest question mark is the Lalonde Brothers. With Mark Lalonde’s third place finish at Iola and Jesse Lalonde’s third place at the Crystal Lake Classic, WORS Series fans wonder whether the singlespeed duo will return in force to WORS Racing this season.
Please share your opinion of the 2012 Crystal Lake ClassicThank you for helping us to make WORS events even better. This survey will probably take around 5 minutes of your time.
Every WORS event is run in partnership with a local organizing committee. The Crystal Lake Classic is organized by the Boy Scouts of Samoset Council to benefit Camp Tesomas. Thank you for your support! We hope that you had an outstanding experience at this WORS race venue. At the end of this survey, we have included a place to share comments for those who volunteered, and organizers who helped to make the event possible.
Important Update for 2012 Learn to Race ClinicsAll Clinic participants must register for that Sunday's race, sign their waiver, and affix their bicycle number plate before attending the Learn to Race Clinic, with the exception of parents accompanying a Junior racer. All Juniors 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent. Clinic start times have been moved back to 3:30 PM to accommodate this. The Clinic will gather and leave from the WORS Registration tent on the Saturday before each race at 3:30 PM.
Iola Bump & Jump BelGioioso Elite post race interviewsPost 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.
Check the race reports: b-matter, Mark Lalonde.
[highlight]WORS Media roundup for Iola:[/highlight]
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.
Please share your opinion of the 2012 Iola Bump & JumpThank you for helping us to make WORS events even better. This survey will probably take around 5 minutes of your time.
Every WORS event is run in partnership with a local organizing committee. The Iola Bump & Jump is organized by the Iola Winter Sports Club to benefit the trails and ski jump facility. Thank you for your support! We hope that you had an outstanding experience at this WORS race venue. At the end of this survey, we have included a place to share comments for those who volunteered, and organizers who helped to make the event possible.
Free "Bike Stuff Exchange" at Iola Bump & Jump[highlight]Bring it![/highlight]
At the Season Finale of WORS 2011 in Sheboygan, WORS Women hosted a free bike stuff exchange. We thought the event was a success, with a many happy donations and appreciated finds. We'll be doing it again at Iola! We've got a winter's worth of new (gently used) gear to bring - including awesome Bontrager, Craft and Patagonia apparel, helmets, shoes, and more. Most of the donations we've received to date will be appreciated by Women and Juniors - and everyone is welcome. Bring your own donations and stop by if you're in need of something.
At Iola, WORS Women and TeamWORS will be setting up a free bike-stuff exchange table at the WORS Registration tent.
If you love bikes as much as we do, you have extra bike stuff. If you have extra bike stuff that someone else could use – bring it. It’s liberating to get rid of that extra stuff and especially when you know it’s going to be appreciated! Add to the pile at any time.
If you are a beginning rider or starving college student in need of a few gently used jerseys, or some clip-less pedals, or maybe a helmet… stop by!
Once set-up, the table will be first-come, first-served all weekend, starting after the Learn to Race Clinic is over on Saturday and (approximately) after the Sport race on Sunday.
Experienced riders, it’s A-OK to stop by and find something for yourself – as long as you bring something to give!
Ladies, bring your friends who bike. Guys and gals who race, it’s OK to come by with your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, mom, dad, daughter or son. Parents, stop by and see if someone whose kids are a little older has gifted you. We want to encourage people to enjoy their ride – even if they don’t race WORS.
Thanks to Don Edberg and TeamWORS we'll also have a blue collection barrel at this and every WORS event to collect donations of bicycle parts and useful accessories for DreamBikes. A bicycle drive is being planned for a WORS event this season. And remember that you can pick up a WORS Racer Handbook anytime if you stop off to donate - or shop - at either DreamBikes location. Thanks to Don Edberg and DreamBikes Milwaukee Manager Russell Jobs!