The Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS), sponsored by Trek Bicycles, has maintained its popularity in the cross country mountain biking scene for over two decades. One of the credits to its longevity is its ability to stay fresh by changing courses from year to year, adding more variety for racers.
The Red Eye Rendezvous in Wausau exemplified this concept once again this year by offering new and different changes to the race to keep riders on their toes. A popular race for cross country racers as well as the occasional roadie, the Red Eye Rendezvous offers miles of super fast, hard packed crushed red granite mixed in with tight single track laced with roots and sharp rocks. It can be a speed freakís dream or a tireís worst nightmare.
The Belgioioso Pro/Elite Womenís field has been dominated by Cooper Dendel (Quick Stop Bike Shop) all season. The Marquette, MI young pro has won all four of the WORS events so far this year. Dendel uses her skills and lack of caution to fly through single track with seemingly impossible speed. But Cooper isnít the only fast lady in the midwest. April Morgan (Foundry Cycles) took advantage of the fast double track lead out to grab the hole shot into the woods. She was quickly passed by a determined Cooper Dendel, but was able to maintain her position over Anna Ganju (Colectivo Cofffee). Ganju just made a return to the WORS series after taking a year off in 2013. Her third place finish took her into the podium step that had been held by Corrie Osborne (Team Extreme) all season. Osborne had to end her race early due to a mechanical issue. Lisa Krayer (Adventure 212/ Specialized) held onto the fourth place spot while Sarah Agena (Hidden Bay/ Ciderboys) took fifth.
In the Belgioioso Pro/Elite Menís race, Nathan Guerra (Vision Cycling/Attitude Sports) took his first win of the season. Guerra has shown his determination in many WORS events and was able to grab his first victory in 2014. A powerful racer with skills in technical climbing is what it takes to win in Wausau and Guerra had those qualities on Sunday.
One section of the course called the ĎHo Chi Minh Trailí is a great divider for race contenders, offering a lengthy uphill battle against jagged rocks and slick roots. Guerra was able to put his full suspension bike to the test and gap the rest of the crowd. Hoping Tristan Schouten (Rolf Prima/Attitude Sports) was on his wheel, Guerra broke free of the pack. Schouten, however, dropped back into the rest of the pack and let Guerra go. Realizing he was working alone, Guerra decided to go time trial style in the last one and a half laps of the race.
During the final lap of the hot race, the skies turned black and opened up to a mini monsoon. Challenging racers with mud and wet grit, the Wausau course turned ugly. Many of the riders in the lead pack had to deal with crashes and dangerous course conditions. Joseph Maloney (KS Energy Service/ Team Wisconsin) was able to move up to the number two spot, putting Schouten into third for the finish. Schouten was followed by Eric Thompson (Mt Borah Epic Team) who finished fourth overall. Finally Corey Stelljes (5 Nines/ Motorless Motion) grabbed the number five position.
WORS continues on June 29 with the Red Flint Firecracker in Eau Claire. The Chippewa Off Road Bike Association (CORBA) will be celebrating 10 years of the Red Flint Firecracker. Thatís 10 years of amazing trails, dedicated volunteers and dauntless racers. The Firecracker has become known for its fabulous trails and family friendly venue and this year will be no exception. With our mix of twisty pines, hard-packed Whoops and speedy ski trails, racers can plan to begin their pre-ride Friday afternoon. All race proceeds go directly to CORBA, your non-profit organization who builds and maintains the trails you love. For more information on this event, go to http://wors.org/schedule/firecracker/.