The Alterra race, originally scheduled for July, had been postponed by massive flooding in the Milwaukee area. A month later, the trails were dusty and the sun was out in force.
“This race is always hot, even when it gets canceled and rescheduled,” commented ladies winner, Abby Strigel. “I was really thirsty. But, this is one of my favorite courses. There’s so much singletrack. I love it! There was a lot of climbing too. At the beginning, Lisa was awesome. I thought she was going to get me. I got lucky on the ‘King of the Mountain’, because Lisa’s fast! But, other than that, it was a great race for me.”
Ladies winner Abby Strigel (Trek Stores of Madison) is chased by second place Lisa Krayer (Adventure 212 / Specialized) halfway up Crystal Ridge. Photo by Melissa Kennedy.
Strigel is being pushed this season by Lisa Krayer (Adventure 212 / Specialized), who finished second. The two are fiercely competitive on the course, and highly complimentary of each other off the track.
“I just looked at the time gap, and it was five minutes - Abby’s amazing,” was the first thing Krayer said during her post race interview. “The singletrack is tough. I think the other struggle was that I felt really uncomfortable on my bike today. This course is fun to ride, but tough to race.”
The course at Alterra was a mix of relentless, exposed gravel climbs up the Crystal Ridge ski hill with tight, twisting singletrack. A weekly time trial at Crystal Ridge, hosted throughout the summer by Milwaukee’s Metro Mountain Bikers, helps set the stage for this yearly showdown between raw power and home-course advantage.
“In the first lap, Nathan [Guerra] and I were just riding, no pressure, and we turn around in the singletrack and we were like ‘Where is everybody?’”, joked second place finisher Darrin Braun. “We’re locals.”
“This race is a home course,” said men’s winner Nathan Guerra. “I always have family and friends here, so it feels pretty good to do two-in-a-row here. I felt really good today, and Darrin [Braun] and I had fun racing together. We we putting little attacks in the singletrack on each other the whole time. It was tons of fun.”
Nathan Guerra (Mr Tree / PowerBar) leads Darrin Braun (Adventure 212 / Specialized) into the second lap at the WORS Alterra Classic. Photo by Niki Frazier
Guerra and Braun (Adventure 212 / Specialized) rode together throughout the race, opening a sizeable gap on the nearest chase group. On the final climb to the top of Crystal Ridge, the two crested the first series of switchback together when Guerra opened a gap on the steepest grade of the climb. Braun hit the descent just seconds later, but the gap continued to open as Guerra pushed the pace in pursuit of the win.
“I actually crashed once over in O’Malley’s woods over there, and I went down,” confessed Guerra. “I was like. ‘Oh no! Is he coming?’ But, I didn’t see him coming, so I jumped back on the bike and tried to keep it steady. I was able to ride in smooth, and didn’t have to kill myself on the final climb to put my arms up.”
With three races left in the WORS Series, the men’s Overall is still hotly contested. In the women’s Overall, Strigel and Krayer look nearly unbeatable in 1st and 2nd, respectively, but the final podium positions are very much in play. Each of the contenders interviewed said that they plan to finish the final three races of the WORS Series, and the racing should be fast and tight to the season finale in Sheboygan on October 10. The next race in the series, Treadfest, will be held on September 12 at the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, WI.