Strigel Undefeated and Braun Tastes First Victory at WORS Bear Paw Rock N’ Roll
By Claire Cannon
As the weather cools in Wisconsin and the 2010 WORS Series approaches its finale, the contest for the remaining steps on the BelGioioso Elite podium remains hot. This weekend’s race along the edges of the beautiful Nicolet National Forest near White Lake, WI saw WORS Overall Series Leader Abby Strigel (Trek Stores of Madison) maintain her undefeated record on the season, while first-year Pro Darrin Braun (Adventure 212 / Specialized) fought his way to the top step of the men’s podium with the help of teammates Chris Peariso and Ryan Krayer.
For the BelGioioso Elite racers, the course at the Bear Paw Adventure Resort is one of the most technical on the WORS circuit, with large rocks, roots and plenty of singletrack climbing. A steep hill and a long section of open fire road before the first singletrack climb strung out the field in both contests.
Leading the charge up the climb in the women’s race, series overall leader Abby Strigel (Trek Stores of Madison) was closely matched by Lisa Krayer (Adventure 212 / Specialized), who has a firm hold on second in the series. The two rode away from the field in the opening minutes of the race, and Strigel led into the first section of singletrack.
"I think Lisa and I started to pull away,” said Strigel. "It hurt very badly. We rode together for quite a ways on the lead-out and at one point we both turned around and no one was there. We were both like, ‘woah!’ Then, in the first lap, I wasn’t getting away in the singletrack and I wasn’t getting away in the open. By the end of that lap, I was just doing anything I could to get away from her. Right after the first lap, I started to pull away a little. She was making me work very hard.”
"I love the course here,” said Krayer. "There’s good singletrack and, like I told Abby today, I was glad to have full suspension out there. I tried to stay with her in the singletrack in the first lap, and I almost did. She pulled away in the end. I had to let her go and ride at my own pace, which was too bad because I was by myself and it was a lot of fun riding with her.”
Anna Ganju (Team Polska) took third for the women, in a career best-to-date. Ganju recently returned to the Cat 1 ranks mid-season this year after a three-year hiatus from WORS. Lori Sable and Renee Back rounded out the top five women.
With A Little Help From His Teammates
In the men’s contest, Team Adventure 212/ Specialized had strength in numbers on the start line. Teammates Darrin Braun, Chris Peariso, Ryan Krayer and Scott Cole have all ridden well this year and were called up in the first two rows. The team had a strategy for Bear Paw that Team Manager Chris Peariso shared after Braun took the win.
"With Brian [Matter] and Tristan [Schouten] out, we knew that we had numbers today,” explained Peariso, who took third place. "We wanted to lead out a little bit slower. We knew that Nathan [Guerra] raced yesterday, and he was pretty much the only guy we had to watch. So Darrin took the holeshot and held everything up. We made sure Ryan [Krayer] was in the group. Once we got a little bit of a break from everyone else, we started some team tactics. We started throwing things off the front to make Nathan chase, until finally we got Darrin away, and took the win today.”
"After the first two laps, I had Chris with me,” said Braun. "It was Chris, Nathan and I. We were going back and forth, putting digs in. Nate had his fair share, I had mine and Chris had his. On the third lap, I put in a little attack on the big hill. I think Nathan was tired, because he raced yesterday. I just hung out for a while and let him catch me, and once he had, I went again in the singletrack. I got away.”
"It was short and hard,” said Braun. "The short length today helped, but when it was hard it was really hard. This is a good course. The climbs are different here. There’s not much sustained climbing, but you’re hitting all the rocks and it’s punchy and always winding through little sections of roots. It’s good and hard.”
"I was good for the first three laps,” said Guerra (Mr. Tree / PowerBar) of his race. "Then Darrin put an attack in on the first singletrack climb and my legs just seized up in all of the places that they hurt yesterday.”
Braun and Guerra, who sometimes ride together outside of racing, have gone back and forth all year in the WORS Series. When asked about the start, Guerra agreed that Adventure 212 / Specialized had worked well together to try to control the pace of the race.
"All the big hitters were gone today except for Adventure 212, so it was the 212 train at the front of the race,” said Guerra, laughing. "They were trying to control the pace of the race. It was awesome team tactics on their part. After the climb, it started to come back together and I thought I was being boxed-in a little. I went to the outside and hit it hard, and tried to get into the singletrack first, but Darrin shut that down. In the end, I don’t know if the team tactics really played a part, because when Darrin put in that attack in the singletrack and rode away, I just didn’t have the legs and I couldn’t respond. He was riding really great. I’m really happy for him. This is his first big WORS win.”
Chris Peariso rode in solo to a third place finish while Ryan Krayer, who had lost contact with the lead group in the second lap, finished in fourth. Rounding out the top five was Ted Hanes (Fond Du Lac Cyclery), who fought from 10th to 5th after an early crash in the pack caused him to lose several places at the start.
The series now turns all eyes to the traditional season finale in Sheboygan, to be held on October 10 at the Wigwam MTB Challenge. The final WORS event of the year will feature a large cash purse for the winner of both BelGioioso Elite races, as well as a raffle during the Awards Ceremony and a special Trek Women skills clinic during the pre-ride on October 9. The women’s clinic will feature Abby Strigel and Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek Mountain CO-OP), and will be hosted by the WORS Women riders group. Check www.wors.org for details of the Sheboygan event.