Strigel and Schouten win 2010 Wisconsin Off Road Series titles

Top finishers recognized at WORS season-ending banquet

The winners of the 2010 Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS), now in its 20th season, were honored on Saturday, October 30 at the annual awards banquet in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Elite women's overall winner Abby Strigel (Trek Stores of Madison) became the first person to ever win the WORS elite overall four times. In the men's series, Tristan Schouten (Mafia / Felt) was crowned 2010 elite overall winner.

For Schouten, 2010 was his third overall win of the WORS Series, bringing him equal with defending champ Brain Matter (Gear Grinder / Trek) at three series titles apiece. The two racers both call Sheboygan home and, earlier in the season, Schouten had joked with Matter that, not only did he want the "1" number plate, he wanted the particular "1" number plate that Matter had been racing all season.

"We might have to have a little ceremony to transfer the plate," said Matter before the final WORS race of the season. "It may involve a Packers game."

Schouten first won the WORS elite overall in 2001, when he was only 19, making him the youngest overall winner in WORS history. He won again in 2002, and then shifted his focus for several year to national-level races. This season, Schouten raced with success in the WORS elite field, on the road, and in cyclo-cross.

In June, at the Subaru Cup, a stop on the US Pro XCT, Schouten started at the very back of the men's pro race and worked his way through a 60+ man field to finish in 11th place. The following day at the short track, he was narrowly edged from the podium by Todd Wells, and took sixth ahead of racers like Carl Decker, Ryan Trebon and Sid Taberlay. After winning the WORS Series this fall, Schouten turned his attention to cyclo-cross. With repeated top-five finishes in the pro field, he has continued to do himself and Wisconsin proud through a very long season.

"I've been measuring time in seconds lately," said Schouten, who recently started a new job. "In the last month, I would kill for 10 minutes to sit on the couch."

Schouten credits his wife, Jamie, for her incredible support throughout his racing season and singled out his sponsors, including Mafia Racing and Felt Bicycles, for helping him make a successful bid at the WORS overall title.

"I haven't had a mechanical all year, and with the schedule we set, I could not have afforded to miss a single WORS race because of bike trouble," Schouten said. "It's not easy to find a great sponsor to support you in a time like this, when the economy is not so strong. I also want to thank my coach, Gordon Paulson, for helping me to train well in only nine to 12 hours per week, so that I can still work and have a family."

When asked about his series win, Schouten laughed modestly, "I'm pretty happy with my finish in the WORS Overall. This has probably been one of my best seasons ever. I raced WORS this season for the competition. Our local racing series is one of the best series in the country, and I'm able to come out every other week and be challenged and race against so many fast guys."

I asked Schouten why this season has been especially good for him.

"Every year, I race," said Schouten. "It's who I've become, and being competitive is part of that. I think this year I've reached a greater level of maturity in my fitness and racing experience. I've gained a lot of experience from racing so often for years. Also, racing both at WORS and on the road this season helped me to build my fitness on the weekends. With the high level of competition at WORS, it's never easy to win. And now, a one-hour cyclo-cross race sometimes doesn't seem so bad."

Defending WORS Champ Brian Matter, too, is having an outstanding cyclo-cross season in 2010, and credited some of his race-readiness this fall to the challenge of Midwest mountain bike competition and frequent WORS races.

"You can't just train," said Matter. "If you just train for nine months and then want to go fast, it won't happen. This year, it was hard to start my season later than ever and train though so many WORS races. It was hard physically and especially mentally, because even though my big goal right now is in December, whenever it's time to race, I want to win. When it's time for Chequamegon, it's hard to keep December in mind, because I guess I just have that habit of wanting to defend my title."

Matter did defend his title at the Chequamegon 40 this year, finishing seconds ahead of Schouten. He ended the WORS season in fourth overall, behind relative newcomers Darrin Braun (Adventure 212 / Specialized) and Nathan Guerra (Mr. Tree Racing / PowerBar). Braun's teammate Chris Peariso took the fifth spot on the men's podium.

In addition to the success of seasoned veterans, the WORS' 2010 men's elite series has been a story of fresh talent pushing the competition. Darrin Braun and Nathan Guerra battled all year for the second step on the men's podium. Like Schouten and Matter, the two are fierce rivals on the course and friends and occasional training partners between races. Guerra, who has raced in the WORS elite field since 2005, was among those who initially encouraged Braun to enter WORS competition after riding with him at a local time trial.

"Nate and I, we've been riding together pretty much since we met at Crystal Ridge," said Braun. "Nate would come out to race, and I knew who he was. I was like: 'Wow, he's top five in WORS elite, that's totally cool.' I like riding with Nate, and out there, we encourage each other. Like during our race, I'll be chasing him and I saying to him, 'Get going! Don't let me catch you.' WORS is like that. Anybody who races WORS knows about the camaraderie."

"I'm happy," said Braun after the Series finale. "I did want to win the Series. I gave it a good try. Last year, I set my goal as top 10. I crushed that goal. I was a little too conservative, so that's why I set my goal at first this year. Things did change, with a new job and no structured training since June. But I stuck with it and that's the thing. I'm still out there pushing hard. And there's next year."

"Darrin and I fought it out pretty hard for that second place position," said third-place finisher Nathan Guerra. "My goal was to finish again in the top five. I've been fifth now two years in a row, and this year I finished third. This season, I've gained some confidence to ride at the front more and try and win races, not just try and hang on. Now, I'm more likely to think, 'I'm going to make something happen.' I'm going out to try and win races. I've learned so much about racing this season, and about how much it matters what's in your head during the race. This season, I've been in more situations with really fast competitors, and I've learned how to think about those situations and respond to them. In 2011, I plan to do a full WORS Series and, if we can make it work with family and finances, I'll do the US Pro XCT as well."

Fifth-place finisher Chris Peariso also plans to return to the WORS Series while adding some national races to his event calendar for 2011.

"I had a second at the Cohutta 100 this year," said Peariso. "I want to see, next year, if that was a fluke or maybe there's some natural ability there that I haven't tapped yet. I turn 36 today, and the sprints over and over again at WORS, I don't know. They say they're supposed to go away as you get older, but I'm still having fun out here! I'll try to hit as many WORS races as I possible can, and also try a few in the NUE Series."

Strigel takes fourth title in the women's series

In the women's series, Abigail Strigel (Trek Stores of Madison) has been exceptionally modest this season about her dominance of the competition. When a mechanical at the season opener sidelined former Series winner Kim Eppen (Mercy-Specialized), Strigel said afterwards, "She would have kicked my butt."

In 2010, Strigel was challenged by consistent local competition more often than during the previous two years, particularly by second-place finisher Lisa Krayer (Adventure 212 / Specialized), who took third at the Chequamegon 40 this year and pushed Strigel at several WORS races in 2010. Despite her modesty, the Madison racer had another impressive year in 2010 and, at 27, seems poised for many successful seasons to come.

"Can she be beaten?" laughed fourth-place finisher Lori Sable before WORS Season finale at Sheboygan. "We're all trying, but I just don't know."

While Strigel is the woman to beat in Wisconsin, she also had an impressive showing among national competitors. With a back-row start, Strigel finished in 13th place in a very strong pro women's field at the Subaru Cup US Pro XCT. This September, Strigel rode to a career-first win at WORS Treadfest over last year's winner Kim Eppen, and at the season finale in Sheboygan, challenged Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek Co-op) for the lead.

"Abigail led the start, and then we sprinted," said Kylander-Johnson of the sprint prime to begin WORS Sheboygan race. "She's fast, so I had to work really hard to get ahead of her and that was really good. It's great to see her going so fast."

Strigel unabashedly credited her new bike, a Trek Top Fuel 9.9 SSL, with helping to make 2010 her fastest year yet.

"I love my bike," said Strigel. "My bike is awesome. Every time I race it, I'm just thinking about how much faster this bike is, and how much faster I am on this bike." She also credited her teammates and sponsor at the Trek Stores of Madison for moral and mechanical support throughout the season.

While Strigel's story at WORS has been one of consistency, the breakout story of the season belongs to the second-place women's finisher, Lisa Krayer. Krayer has been a strong competitor in the WORS elite series since 2005. At 35, she's just raced her best season to date, challenging Strigel for the win in several races and locking in her hold on second relatively early in the season.

Krayer credits her success in 2010 to better training and greater off-bike rest as her two daughters, ages four and six, have become more independent. She also credits the support of her husband Ryan Krayer, who took a career-best sixth in the men's overall this year.

"This season was everything I hoped it would be, and more," said Krayer. "When you invest so much time, you just never know what is going to happen. And it's great to feel that it was really worth it. Every year, I feel like I've improved. But, I'm not going to be able to race forever and I just thought, if not now, when?"

The Krayers, who are cheered on by their daughters during races, have done an amazing job of balancing family fun and elite competition at WORS.

"As our girls get older, they'll have their own interests and of course I want to support that," said Lisa Krayer. "Who knows, maybe in a few years I'll be setting up my trainer on the side of a soccer field. There are a few things I want to try out and improve on next year. I'm really looking forward to it. Being able to ride with Abby at some of the races this year, it was really an eye-opener for me. And taking third at the Chequamegon 40 will help keep me motivated for next season."

Third-place finisher Robin Williams, of Iowa City, balanced a demanding work schedule with training and travel to finish the 2010 Series.

"It's been a goal for a couple of years now," said Williams, who races for Mercy-Specialized. "I had no expectation for where I would fall out in the overall because there are so many tough women in the series. Abby and Lisa have ridden so strong this year and they are great competitors. It's been fun to race with them, Lori, and all the other ladies. It's just been so much fun to race this year and then actually say: 'I finished this.'"

Lori Sable, who came on strong in the latter half of the 2010 season captured the fourth spot on the women's podium while Claire Cannon (Trek Stores of Madison) claimed fifth. The two were closely matched throughout the season. While Cannon had a lead early, Sable dominated the later races.

"I'm not one of those people who do the 'training' thing," said Sable. "So I had some catch-up to do this season, and the riding always helps. I just want to have fun."

"Darrin [Braun] turned my interview mic around on me after Sheboygan," said fifth place finisher, Cannon. "That's only fair as he's such a consistent racer that I've interviewed him after every race this season. Under questioning, I had to admit that the later part of this WORS season has been less than ideal for me. I had some issues with illness at the worst times and took some beatings on the course. But I also had an absolutely great time out there, maybe even when I was getting beat. It made me realize how much I value being able to ride and compete with the ladies in my field. And it made me want to not get beat! I'm looking forward to 2011."

The top podium finishers in the elite, including five women and 10 men, collected a total of US$17,000 in prizes at the WORS Series Awards Banquet. Over 250 racers competed on 23 teams in the WORS Teams Competitions, and 55 Series racers were recognized as "WORS-heads", having attended all 12 races in the 2010 Series. Series racers of every level took home nearly $12,000 in prizes from WORS sponsors during the raffle. The 2011 WORS season was also announced, and highlights will include a new venue in the Madison area, and a return of the US Pro XCT to the Subaru Cup in June.

"In 2011, WORS will celebrate our 20th year," said Series Director Don Edberg. "We're already busy preparing for next year, meeting with sponsors and talking to our local organizers. It's sometimes hard to take a moment to reflect in the 'off-season'. But, when I do, I have to say - it's been amazing. Amazing racers. Amazing volunteers. Amazing race directors, venues and events. Amazing sponsors. It's still very much fun."

Final 2010 WORS series standings

Pro & Cat. 1 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tristan Schouten (Pro)  
2Darrin Braun (Pro)  
3Nathan Guerra (Pro)  
4Brian Matter (Pro)  
5Chris Peariso (Pro)  
6Ryan Krayer  
7Seth Lenss  
8Ben Koenig  
9Ronald Stawicki (Pro)  
10Ted Hanes  
Pro & Cat. 1 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Abigail Strigel (Pro)  
2Lisa Krayer  
3Robin Williams  
4Lori Sable  
5Claire Cannon  
Elite men 19-29
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Matt Gehling  
2Tyler Gauthier  
3Carlos Haeckel  
Elite men 30-39
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Neil Swanson  
2Trevor Olson  
3Glenn Kirst  
Elite men 40-49
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1John Lirette  
2J. W. Miller  
3Chad Hildebrandt  
Elite women 19-34
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michelle Peariso  
2Renee Bach  
3Anna Ganju  
Elite women 35+
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Patti Kaufmann  
2April Dombrowski  
3Denise Coppock  
Junior men 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Myles Beach  
2Nathan Labecki  
3Ben Senkerik  
Junior women 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Liz Shull  
Singlespeed
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chad Boyles  
2Greg Jones  
3Brent Palmer  
Men 50+
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Brett Edgerle  
2Kenneth Ramm  
3Bob Boone  
Cat. 2 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Patryk Limanowicz  
2Joseph Maloney  
3Spence Cone  
4Sanjay Ganju  
5Lance Wall  
Cat. 2 men 19-24 comp
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tim Racette  
2Andrew Wiesner  
Cat. 2 men 25-29 comp
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Eric Fossell  
2Nicholas Holzem  
3Michael Ziegler  
Cat. 2 men 30-34 comp
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Nathan Lillie  
2Mitchell Moen  
3Vince Steger  
Cat. 2 Men 35-39 comp
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Heil  
2Kurt Schwiesow  
3Tyson Schwiesow  
Cat. 2 Men 40-44 comp
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Dan Tavela  
2Bill Burkholder  
3Matt Dale  
Cat. 2 Men 45-49 comp
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Glen Stroik  
2Ross Lemke  
3Jeff Sympson  
Cat. 2 Clydesdale
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bob Phelps  
2Jeff Steckbauer  
3Chris Fellows  
Cat. 2 Women 14 & under
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rachael Jensen  
Cat. 2 women 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Emily Shull  
2Nina Karinen  
3Moriah Griesbach  
Cat. 2 Women 19-29
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rachel Horstman  
2Cassey Lynn  
3Kelli Piotrowski  
Cat. 2 Women 30-39
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sarah Agena  
2Andrea Lyman  
3Ann Holsen  
Cat. 2 Women 40-49
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Brittany Nigh  
2Sondra Klipp  
3Lynne Senkerik  
 Rolleen Kralovec  
Cat. 2 Women 50+
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Paula Liske  
2Helmy Tennis  
3Jenni Borell  
Cat. 2 Men 14 & under
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Pete Karinen  
2Jordan Watkins  
3Connor McColl  
Cat. 2 Men 15-16 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andrew Senderhauf  
2Parker McColl  
3Brandon Watkins  
Cat. 2 Men 17-18 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1David Flaten  
2Jordan Loeck  
3Bo Schinke  
Cat. 2 Men 19-24 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Eric Weidman  
2Adrian Icenogle  
3Josh Rupnow  
Cat. 2 Men 25-29 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Patrick Scheibel  
2Steve Herriges  
3Jake Swenson  
Cat. 2 Men 30-34 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Eric Stanke  
2Dan Wierzba  
3Matt Karwowski  
4Jason Gibson  
Cat. 2 Men 35-39 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gabriel Ion  
2John Hughes  
3Patrick Dowd  
4Troy Schaden  
Cat. 2 Men 40-44 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Steve Kobs  
2Ken Naef  
3Jeff Wren  
4Wade Flisram  
Cat. 2 Men 45-49 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mike Owens  
2Terry Prewitt  
3Kelly Skinkis  
4Matt Luger  
Cat. 2 Men 50-54 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Steve Kapaun  
2Michael Giesen  
3Jim Feuerstein  
Cat. 2 Men 55-59 sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Donald Carr  
2Warren Fowler  
3Daniel Millin  
Cat. 2 Men 60+ sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Dale Lenss  
2James S. Heinecke  
3Frank Lobello  
Cat. 2 Clydesdale men sport
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joel Ficke  
2Daniel Trupp  
3Mark Schindel  
Cat. 2 singlespeed women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jesse Jaehnig  
2Steven Schaefer  
3Dustin Vande Zande  
Cat. 3 women 14 & under
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sarah Gill  
2Maja Holcomb  
3Jordan Pellett  
Cat. 3 women 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Arin Lemke  
2Samantha Kosarzycki  
Cat. 3 Women 19-29
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Heather Marty  
2Danielle Tournier  
3Becky Carvin  
Cat. 3 Women 30-39
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Pascalle Dumez  
2Becky Rands  
3Lori Baccus  
Cat. 3 Women 40-49
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Caroline Warren  
2Tammy Vande Zande  
3Jeanne Krueger  
Cat. 3 Women 50+
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rose Lenss  
2Amy Dykema  
3Sue Blankenheim  
Cat. 3 Men 14 & under
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fletcher Arlen  
2Brandon Flisram  
3Andrew Schmidt  
Cat. 3 Men 15-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kyle Berchem  
2Jan Warren  
3Tyler Feldmann  
Cat. 3 Men 19-29
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kurt Brunner  
2Rob Stieber  
3Martin Reza  
Cat. 3 Men 30-39
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mike Williams  
2Marko Gerovac  
3William Patterson  
 Peter Fetters  
Cat. 3 Men 40-49
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Clive Warren  
2Ruben Valdez  
3Kevin Lisowe  
 Michael Laufenberg  
Cat. 3 Men 50-59
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Scott Foate  
2George Doty  
3Wally Sniadajewski  
Cat. 3 Men 60+
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Dennis Klinkert  
2Ron Jansen  
3Richard Wenborne  
Cat. 3 Men Clydesdale
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gary Frost  
2Paul Darrington  
3Scott Krueger  
Cat. 3 girls 8 & under
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Leah Fletcher  
Cat. 3 girls 11-12
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Megan Senderhauf  
2Kaitlin Splittgerber  
3Monica Gabrielson  
Cat. 3 boys 8 & under
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lucas Fletcher  
2Griffin May  
3Tyler Holden  
Cat. 3 boys 8-10
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Nathan Knowles  
2Aaron Smith  
3William Darling  
Cat. 3 boys 11-12
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Shane Holcomb  
2Jimmy Splittgerber  
3Kyle Kargel  

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