The Trek Border Battle, the eighth race in the Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS), was held on August 16 at White Tail Ridge just outside River Falls, Wisconsin. The Border Battle also appeared on the Minnesota State Championship Series calendar and pitted Minnesota and Wisconsin riders against one another. Racers in the Wisconsin series won the traveling trophy at the 2008 Battle, and Minnesota brought a stacked field for the rematch. With early forecasts that called for rain, racers were expecting a "mudder". However, after heavy early-morning showers, the skies cleared and the course was soon mostly dry with only a few spongy spots.
"I was expecting it to be real gnarly but actually the course was great and only wet up at the top", said Wisconsin Elite rider Jesse Lalonde, after the race. "Some of the singletrack was like riding in peanut butter. It really sapped my energy."
Nearly 700 racers turned out for the event, although there "might have been a hundred or so more if the forecast had been different", said WORS series director Don Edberg.
Off the start, MacIej Nowak (Team Polska) took the holeshot and led the field up the long, steep climb into the singletrack. The men's elite field was flying up that climb, as riders knew it would be critical to be in a good position before the singletrack. Lap times on the first lap were under 20 minutes. By the second ascent of the big hill, a group of six racers, including teammates Travis (TJ) Woodruff and Mike Phillips (Adventure 212 / Specialized), Jesse Lalonde (Gary Fisher 29 / T6 / BKB) and brother Mark Lalonde (Planet Bike / GT / T6), Minnesota racer Brendan Moore (Velo Rochester), and Nathan Guerra (Mr. Tree Racing) were just off the front.
This lead group of six would stay together for most of the race until Nathan Guerra, current elite series leader and winner of WORS #7, had to pause and tend to a flat. Then, on the climb at the beginning of the last lap, Woodruff put in a "ferocious" attack, according to Moore. Woodruff's attack split the group, with only Mark Lalonde able to respond.
"The first five minutes of the race were really intense and that more or less established the lead group of riders right from the start," said Woodruff. "I set the pace for laps two and three, as we all felt things out and prepared for the second half of the race where the pace was sure to quicken. At the start of the fourth lap, Mike Phillips accelerated hard and really upped the intensity, especially in the singletrack. By the end of lap four, the pace had mellowed and five us were still together, although some likely hurting more than others at this point. I went really fast up the climb on the final lap and only Marko was able to match the pace."
The younger Lalonde stayed with Woodruff until near the end of the last lap, when he took the lead and the win.
"The first climb after the start sorted the field quickly," agreed Mark Lalonde. "After half a lap, the lead group was set. Everyone took a turn at the front with no gaps to be had. TJ seemed to be doing the majority of the work. He threw in a killer ascent of the start climb on the last lap, and I stuck on his wheel. As we rounded the first field I saw a gap and told him to punch it. We were flowing pretty well through the singletrack, weaving through lap traffic. In the second field section I took over the pacing duties. I quickly decided to redline it for as long as I could and see what happened. We kept the flow going and it was not until about a mile from the finish that I realized I had a gap. I put it in cruise and played it safe through the tight corners."
"Mark and I exchanged the lead a couple times during the last lap and kept the gap over the chasers all the way to the finish," said Woodruff. "Mark led going into the final singletrack, so there was little opportunity for me to come around. We put in a very fast final lap and it was great that we were able to finish 1-2. It was a fast race and never a dull moment, since several of us seemed closely matched on the course. Having people lining the start finish area and on the climb to cheer was pretty cool."
Battling for third and fourth were Phillips and Moore. Jesse Lalonde rounded out the top five after "popping" on the last lap. The lapped traffic that the men's Elite field encountered after their fourth lap certainly added another dynamic to their race.
The women's elite racers started a minute behind the men's field. Minnesota Series leader Jenna Rinehart (Specialized) and Wisconsin Overall Leader Abigail Strigel (Mafia Racing / Pabst / Felt) led a furious sprint into the first section of singletrack, though the entire women's field promptly found themselves at a standstill behind the elite men, who had bottlenecked at the first significant technical section.
"The women's race started off fast with Abby getting the hole shot," said Rinehart after her race. "I was able to get around her on the climb and build a small gap in the field before the first single track. Unfortunately we got stuck behind the back of the men's field, which was bottled up in the single track. The gaps that had formed at the beginning came back together as we waited for the men's field to spread out a little. I focused on staying calm and passing as many riders as I could."
Unlike the front of the men's field, where racers contended with lapped traffic beginning in their fourth lap, Rinehart and Strigel worked their way through the men's field from the start. Once again, Rinehart ended her race riding towards the top of the men's race, and finished with a gap of nearly seven minutes over Strigel, in second. Wisconsin racers Holly Liske (Hayes Disc Brakes) and Lisa Krayer (Wildside Velo Club) followed in third and fourth, respectively. Minnesota racer Anne Grabowski (Penn Cycle / Nature Valley) rounded out the top five women.
The match up between the Wisconsin and Minnesota series added an extra element of fun for racers in both series.
"This race was one of the best this year," said WORS Series leader Abby Strigel. "White Tail Ridge is a great course and the competition was awesome! As always, it was fun racing with the Minnesota girls."
"The men's race was exciting. It is not every race that you have five guys in the lead group for eighty percent of the race," said Travis (TJ) Woodruff. "The speed of the course tended to keep riders grouped together rather than splitting up the field."
"My overall impression of the course was nothing but good," said race winner Mark Lalonde. Lalonde now moves up in the overall standings for the WORS series.
After all the points were tallied, Wisconsin riders once again took home the Border Battle trophy in 2009. Racers from both states are already looking forward to a rematch in 2010. Meanwhile, the WORS Series standings remain hotly contested in the men's field, and Abby Strigel continues to defend her title as overall leader in the women's series.
The next race on the WORS calendar will be held on August 30 at the Reforestation Ramble, outside Green Bay, Wisconsin.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jenna Rinehart (Specialized)||1:29:42|
|2||Abigail Strigel (Mafia Racing/Pabst/Felt)||0:06:56|
|3||Holly Liske (HAYES DISC BRAKES)||0:10:13|
|4||Lisa Krayer (Wildside Velo Club)||0:10:44|
|5||Anne Grabowski (PennCycle/NatureValley)||0:11:39|
|6||Jennifer Nowlin (Peace Coffee)||0:11:44|
|7||Diana McFadden (Ski Hut)||0:12:55|
|8||Jennifer Whitedog (Skinny's Club Tread)||0:13:33|
|10||Corey Coogan (Freewheel Bike)||0:15:42|
|11||April Dombrowski (Team Pedal Moraine)||0:18:34|
|12||Claire Cannon (Team WORS)||0:18:35|
|13||Karlene Olson (Muddy Cup Racing)||0:21:19|
|14||Kristi Olson (Kenwood Racing)||0:22:23|
|15||Brenda Zimmermann Thorpe (Dude Girl/Fat Tire Guides/RMC)||0:23:11|
|16||Renee Bach (Chain Smokers)||0:23:31|
|17||Rachael Gatto (Twin Six)||0:25:25|
|18||Christine Czarnecki (Alterra Coffee MTB Team)||0:27:46|
|19||Hannah Zlomke (Mr. Tree Racing Team)||0:28:24|
|20||Andrea Horner (LCR)||0:33:47|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mark Lalonde (Planet Bike/GT/T6)||1:40:31|
|2||Travis Woodruff (Adventure 212/Specialized)||0:00:10|
|3||Mike Phillips (Adventure 212/Specialized)||0:00:37|
|4||Brendan Moore (Velo Rochester)||0:00:45|
|5||Jesse Lalonde (Gary Fisher 29r/T6/BKB)||0:01:48|
|6||Sam Oftendahl (Hollywood cycling)||0:02:58|
|7||Jeff Hall (Hollywood cycles)||0:03:55|
|8||Cam Kirkpatrick (Rasmussen Bike/ Orbea)||0:04:15|
|9||Nathan Guerra (Mr. Tree)||0:04:35|
|10||Ted Hanes (Fond du Lac Cyclery)||0:04:36|
|11||Jeff Melcher (Team Pedal Moraine)||0:04:37|
|12||MacIej Nowak (Team Polska)||0:04:38|
|13||Jack Hinkens (Penn Cycle "For bikes")||0:05:29|
|14||Darrin Braun (Adventure 212 / Specialized)||0:05:58|
|15||Dallas Fowler (Titletown Flyers)||0:06:10|
|16||Ray Nelson (Treadhead Cycling)||0:06:13|
|17||Landon Lueck (Mafia Racing/Pabst/Felt)||0:06:23|
|18||Trevor Olson (Muddy Cup)||0:07:20|
|19||Christian Brekke (Fisher 29er Crew)||0:07:45|
|20||Matt Gehling (Team WORS)||0:08:04|
|21||Barry Tungseth (Flat City Cyclngi)||0:08:17|
|22||Nikolai Anikin (Conti)||0:08:36|
|23||Todd McFadden (Trek/Ski Hut)||0:08:44|
|24||Dave Oachs (Nicolletbike.co)||0:09:19|
|25||Seth Lenss (Title Town Flye)||0:09:25|
|26||Neil Swanson (Team Wors)||0:09:33|
|27||Paul Hanson (Nicolletbike.co)||0:10:18|
|28||Chad Hildebrandt (Hammer Nutritio)||0:10:22|
|29||Jason Wenk (Velo Rochester)||0:11:18|
|31||Scott Kylander-Johnso (Trek Coop)||0:11:20|
|32||John Lirette (Hayes Disc)||0:11:26|
|33||Matthew Nelson (Peace Coffee)||0:11:28|
|34||Mike Bushey (Ski-Hut)||0:12:12|
|35||J. W. Miller (Mafia Racing/Pabst/Felt)||0:12:30|
|36||Devin Curran (Spot Brand / Hollywood Cycles)||0:13:13|
|37||Chris Fisher (Velo Rochester)||0:13:18|
|38||Kevin Supple (peace coffee)||0:13:18|
|39||John Gatto (MARS)||0:13:26|
|40||Jake Begley (Rudy Project, G)||0:13:27|
|41||Glenn Kirst (Wheel & Sprocke)||0:13:52|
|42||Eric Oftedahl (Hollywood/Silve)||0:13:55|
|43||David Meyer (Freewheel)||0:14:05|
|44||Bruce Martens (Balance Cycling)||0:14:20|
|45||Tim Scanley (Alterra Coffee)||0:14:27|
|46||Maury Malanaphy (Ride Club)||0:15:30|
|47||John Shull (CLIF BAR)||0:15:31|
|48||Josh Klauck (Angry Catfish/T)||0:15:49|
|49||J Ross Fraboni||0:15:53|
|50||Bill Nigh (Team Pedal Morr)||0:15:55|
|51||Scott D. Cole (Adventure 212/S)||0:15:57|
|52||Shane Kullman (Loon State Cycl)||0:16:48|
|54||Andrew Jordan (LCR)||0:17:13|
|55||Thomas Thornquest (Kenwood Racing)||0:18:01|
|56||Tim Stone (Kenwood Racing)||0:18:09|
|57||Russ Krueger (Muddy Cup / COL)||0:19:03|
|58||Jerrod Collier (Muddy Cup Racin)||0:20:37|
|59||Craig Manthe (Polska)||0:21:52|
|60||Matthew Horner (LCR)||0:22:40|
|61||Michael Anderson (Schwag Racing)||0:23:29|
|62||Jason Gosse (Wors Posse)||0:24:22|
|63||Pat Dowling (FCCC-Penn Cycle)||0:24:59|
|64||Kevin Flanders (Peace Coffee)||0:30:14|