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Reforestation Ramble - Suamico, WI

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |September 23, 2012 3:47 PM
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Reforestation Ramble - Suamico, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Off-Road Series #9

Written by: Todd Nutter

The Reforestation Ramble in Suamico, WI hosted the 9th event in the Subaru-sponsored 2012 Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS).  Many competitors are drawn to the Ramble venue for the full-gas speed on open ski-trail sections, challenging hills, and longer-distance competition.  These attractions annually enlarge WORS fields at the Ramble as competitors gauge their fitness for September’s Chequamegon 40.  Traditionally, winners at the Ramble are those contenders that can throw down hard for the longest amount of time. This year it was Cole House and Amber Markey.  

For the second year in a row that Cole House (Competitive Cyclist/616) took the top step on the BelGioioso Elite men’s podium, narrowly beating Brian Matter in a sprint finish.  House is a local to the trails, and lives in nearby Oneida, WI when not racing on the road in Europe. Having the home field advantage is what he says helped him.

Though dusty trails have become the norm in a year of record drought for Wisconsin, the skies opened on the morning of the event and rain fell through the start of the race.  House used his knowledge of the trails to his advantage, alternately riding with caution and putting pressure on the other riders in the changing conditions. Establishing a modest early gap, he led most of the race until caught by Brian Matter (Gear Grinder) and Mark Lalonde (Lalonde Bros/ Twin Six).  House and Matter have sprinted to the line in several major contests over the last three years, including WORS events, Ore to Shore and the Chequamegon 40.  On Sunday, Matter finished less than a second behind House, losing the sprint for the second year in a row at this venue.  Mark Lalonde finished 3rd aboard a rigid single speed. While his bike choice gave him fewer worries in poor weather conditions, Lalonde found long sections of very bumpy, fresh singletrack challenging. "I was seeing Brian just sitting down, riding through that stuff,” recalled Lalonde. "And being on a rigid hard tail, it was a little rough.”

In the women’s race a smaller field missed the defending Champion Abby Strigel and Pro racer Lisa Krayer, while relative WORS newcomer, Amber Markey (Magnus) stepped up for the win. Despite the mud and being stung by a bee mid-race, she crossed the line nearly 5 minutes ahead of second place finisher Anna Ganju. Of the start, Markey recalled "Anna was throwing down right away, so that was pretty exciting.”

The race started shortly after most of the rain stopped. While the first lap was punctuated by mud and slippery roots, Ganju found by the second and third lap that the lines were drying. Her strategy was to keep it in the big ring as much as possible and grab the wheel of any of the men passing her. This course is one of the few WORS courses with enough long, fast, open roads to allow riders to draft, and Ganju took a strategic second with smart pack strategy.  Less than a minute behind her, hometown favorite Denise Coppock (Titletown Flyers) stepped onto the third step of the BelGioioso podium in her best-yet Elite finish. Denise’s team, the Titletown Flyers, organized much of the weekend’s event and supplied many of the volunteers. Coppock, for her part, came for a medal.

In the tightly contested men’s BelGioioso Series Overall, Matter’s finish on Sunday moved him into 1st place.  A win in 2012 would be Matter’s fourth Overall Championship, and would tie him with Tristan Schouten for most Overall wins in the men’s BelGioioso Series. However, odds are that Matter could lose the top spot before October as he shifts his attention to the upcoming cyclocross season. In the women’s contest, Abby Strigel is undefeated, and though she also plans to compete in local cyclocross races, her lead in the Series is unlikely to be challenged.

The next race of the 2012 WORS Series, Treadfest, will be held at the Grand Geneva Resort on September 9.


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