Last time Wisconsin cyclocrossers were out at the Trek World Headquarters in Waterloo, they were being treated to a legendary show from the likes of Wout Van Aert, Katie Compton, and Kaitlin Antonneau. On Saturday, the 2016 Trek WCA Cyclocross series returned to the Trek grounds for a State Championship race that featured Isaac “Nfn” Neff, Abby Van Strigel, and Erin feld der Hausen subbing in for some of the world’s great riders.
The 2016 event marked the first year that the Wisconsin State Championships were held at Trek World Headquarters. Given the Trek CXC Cup is a UCI C1 event that hosted literally the World Champion this year, it is fair to say the course was a challenging circuit worthy of the State Championship mantle and was one that riders had circled on their calendars as a must-attend event.
The hosts from Revolution Cycles put together a circuit that took full advantage of the grounds at Trek (except for an abbreviated Trek Factory Hill that was more of a Trek Factory Hill-let) to put together a course that included some old favorites and new twists. The Loathing Dock run-up, the fly-over, and Little Zolder were all there, and the massive dirt pile and set of stairs in the woods featured some new, challenging twists. With temperatures dropping into the high 20s, the real MVP of the whole event was the UCI-legal fire pit located near the fly-over that gave spectators and racers a place to congregate – with some libations from One Barrel Brewery conveniently located nearby – and stay warm.
Strigel Comes Out of Retirement to Win Women’s Elite Race
Earlier this year, honorary Trek groundskeeper Sven Nys told us that Retirement Sucks. Racing’s Better. This past weekend the cyclocross legend decided that yes, racing is better, and kitted up this past weekend for a second place finish at the Single Speed World Championships in Portland. Closer to home, local legend Abby Strigel (unattached) also decided that retirement sucks, racing’s better, and came out to toe the line for her first cyclocross race of the 2016 season. The decision was a good one, with the Trek employee showing no signs of rust en route to a dominating win in the Women’s Elite race.
It would have made for a great story if Strigel’s decision to race was the result of the Sven video, but the motivation was a bit more local, “I’ve heard that it’s a really fun course. Someone described it as a ‘Travis Braun’ course. It sounded really fun, and honestly, on the way home from work yesterday Anders Alberg was like ‘YOU SHOULD RACE TOMORROW,’ so I credit him quite a bit for talking me into it.”
One would have forgiven Strigel if she got off to a slow start, missing the clip-in at the start or taking some time to get her heart rate up, but the yellow-clad rider wasted no time charging to the front and taking the holeshot. Recent Wiscrossin’ podcast guest Meredith Peterson Turany (MadCity Velo), Caitlin Neuman (Brazen Dropouts), Erin Feldhausen (Trek Midwest), and Emily “Nordy” Nordahl (North Dakota State University) – racing in her first Wisconsin race as a Wisconsin resident – gave chase as Strigel continued her hot start out on the course.
When the dust had settled after the first trip around the course, Strigel had established a convincing 10 second lead, and Nordahl sat in second with a sizeable gap on third-place rider Erin Feldhausen. Strigel would extend her gap to nearly thirty seconds by the mid point of the race. The former (and maybe future?) cyclocross star would not be challenged for the rest of the race, and she coasted home for a convincing victory in her unretirement party.
While Strigel was working hard to open up her early gap, Emily Nordahl – who won at Oshcross earlier this year – was also working hard to make her presence felt as a Wisconsin cyclocrosser. The recently-minted PhD was piling her grasp on second higher and deeper during the first part of the race, opening up a 15-second lead on third-place Feldhausen. However, as the riders passed through the circuit for the third time, it became clear the Trek Midwest rider was not going to let a second place finish for Nordahl come easy on her home turf.
During the third lap, Feldy cut the gap to Nordy in half, and then she moved into second place near the flyover. Feldhausen was able to sustain the move through the lap and held a five-second lead heading into the bell lap. She was able to hold onto that spot, and Nordahl took third. Caitlin Neuman and Meredith Peterson Turany rounded out the top five for the afternoon.
Strigel said that her return to the CX scene was a lot of fun and she enjoyed the “Travis Braun” course at Trek, “For sure, how technical it was. There’s technical climbs, there’s some weird off-camber turns. Some stair step things we got to ride up. It was really technical and twisty. There weren’t many straightaways, which was great. There’s so many different technical parts, I loved it.”
Mayer Overcomes Disaster to Triumph in Women’s Cat 3 Race
Anne Mayer (Great Dane Velo Club) has worked her way into the pages of the WisCXonsin Race Report a few times this year as she has taken the CX scene by storm after accidentally riding off the road earlier this season. Some of the lessons she has (hopefully) learned have been documented here, and on Saturday she learned probably her most important lesson yet.
After suffering two early Ay Yay Yay’s, Mayer learned that 45 minutes is a long time in a cross race and that an early mistake does not have to be a disaster if you stay focused and ride strong for the remainder of the race. Mayer was able to overcome a couple of early setbacks and ride back to the head of the race to win the Women’s Cat 3 State Championship.
The Women’s Cat 3 race started with Wendy Boehm (Ben’s Cycle/Milwaukee Bicycle Co.) shooting to the front of the race as Jodie Prestine (Ben’s Cycle/Milwaukee Bicycle Co.), Amy Schultz (L5 Racing), Sophia House (Belgianwerkx), and Amanda Mack (Trek Midwest) formed the chase group. Mayer’s early problems started at the off-camber on the abbreviated Trek Factory Hill, “It’s a little sensitive. I got caught behind some people and went down. Then I got caught in the mud, and when I picked up my bike I realized that my rear wheel wasn’t attached.”
Mayer’s early troubles provided Prestine and Mack with an opportunity to get off the front of the race early on. After Boehm’s hot start, Prestine took over driving the pace at the front until Mack pulled around her heading through the start/finish at the end of the first lap. Prestine was able to mirror Mack’s move, and the two opened up a six-second gap on Schultz and Boehm at the top of the second trip up the Loathing Dock run-up. Lurking close behind the two UW-Madison PhD students, Schultz and Boehm, was Mayer, who had begun to work her way up through the field.
After taking the lead after cresting the run-up on Lap 2, Prestine worked hard to break free from Mack, but was unable to do so. A three-second gap became one, and then three, but it appeared difficult to get any kind of opening to stick.
Mayer eventually made her move to first during the penultimate lap. She was able to sustain her move and open up a four-second lead heading into the bell lap. She would extend the lead over Prestine, who still hovered in front of her afternoon nemesis Mack, to 10 seconds at the top of the Loathing Dock run-up and maintain that lead en route to a convincing comeback victory.
One approach to overcoming an early setback is to be cerebral and focus on riding each feature cleanly as you work your way back to the front. Another is what we will call the Mayer Approach, “Slight panic, as I usually do. But then my rage set in and I was just picking people off. It was fun.” When asked to elaborate on the Mayer Rage, the GDVC rider said, “It’s not my skill level that lets me win races. It’s my fitness and my rage.”
Prestine was able to maintain the gap on Mack to take second, and the Trek Midwest rider took third.
The last lap proved exciting for Schultz and Boehm. After Boehm’s fast start, Schultz was able to open up a gap on her PhD competitor as the race entered the bell lap. Schultz held a four-second gap for fourth at the top of the Loathing Dock, but Boehm was eventually able to regain contact with her wheel heading into the open stretch before the finishing sprint. Schultz hit the finishing straight first, but Boehm was able to get the smallest of jumps in the sprint to take fourth by a tire knob or two.
Blodgett Reigns as King in the Single-Speed Spectacular
Ever since Tyler Stein (L5 Racing) stole David Blodgett’s (Great Dane Velo Club) mojo at Pumpkin Cross, the bearded warrior has been dominating the single-speed field. On Saturday, Stein appeared poised to make a run at the king midway through the race, but as a wise man once said, you come at the king, you best not miss. Stein made one mistake and Blodgett was off to yet another single-speed win and the overall Super Cup title.
Saturday’s race at Trek saw a healthy contingent of Chicago-area riders making the trek north to race on the Trek grounds. One of those Chicago riders, Bailey Newbrey (Chicago Cuttin Crew) made his presence felt by racing out to grab the holeshot and setting the early pace at the front. After the riders navigated through the Trek Factory Hill-let off-camber, the natural order of WISSCX reestablished itself and Blodgett and Carlos Casali (Intelligensia Coffee) moved to the front as Newbrey and Stein formed the chase group.
On the second lap, Blodgett stayed on the gas and opened up an 8-second gap. Stein broke from the chase into second, and Robert Berry (Belgianwerkx) slowly moved himself up into the third spot. Early in Lap 2 it looked like Blodgett was on the verge of opening up a large lead, but as the riders came through the start/finish for the second time, it was apparent that Stein was closing on the single-speed powerhouse. Stein cut the lead to five seconds as the riders hit the Trek Factory Hill-let, but then suffered an Ay Yay Yay that squelched his comeback. After the race, Blodgett said that he saw Stein coming and was concerned about the move, “Tyler was coming back to me. I actually saw him make the kind of one mistake, slip up on a climb and that was the little boost I needed to get away and stay away.”
Another way to put this important cyclocross lesson is “you come at the king, you best not miss.” In other words, when you are racing a formidable opponent, one small mistake can be all it takes to end your shot at catching them.
Blodgett would not really be challenged the rest of the race. With the win, he also took the overall WISSCX Super Cup championship. Stein hovered about 10-15 seconds behind the winner for the remainder of the contest to take second. All of this is not to take anything away from Stein’s performance, as the gap back to Robert Berry in third was nearly a minute, and Berry’s gap back to the rest of the field was equally as long.
Blodgett has played an integral role in shaping the Trek CXC Cup course that exists today. He spoke after the race about what he thought about the weekend’s layout, “It had a lot of the same technical aspects, but it wasn’t quite as power-oriented. It was a little more punchy with shorter efforts. But that was good. It was super-fun and a great course. For the single-speed race, this was perfect.”
Horning Walks the Talk in the Men’s Cat 3 Race
One thing that seems to be true about the Wisconsin cyclocross scene during this reporter’s four years as a cyclocross person is that there usually seems to be good camaraderie among the Cat 3 fields. This friendliness was on display this week when several of the Trek Cat 3’s engaged in some good old fashioned competitive banter. One of the ringleaders of the fun was Corey Horning (Angry Monkeys Racing), who distributed all-natural Doritos energy snacks to his competitors to prepare them for Saturday’s race.
It should be noted that during Wiscrossin’s appearance on the Midwest Cycling Podcastand on the Trek break room race prediction board, Horning did not get one vote of support for winning the race. Horning was able to seize on the “no one believes in us!” motivation to ride away to an impressive victory in the Cat 3 race.
Another thing that is true about this year’s Cat 3 field is that there are a lot of strong riders with similar skill levels competing for the podium. As a result, the holeshot and ensuing first laps are often a heated six to eight minutes of bike racing. Saturday was no different with Trekkies Tony Lemke (Trek Midwest) and Tim Hartung (Trek Midwest) racing out to avoid the inevitable Cat 3 carnage at the Trek Factory Hill-let.
After the riders made it through the first 2/3 of the lap and crested the Loathing Dock run-up, Hartung and Lemke sat at the front, with Josh Fangman (Brazen Dropouts), Corey Horning, and Harrison Winkel (KS Energy/Team Wisconsin) forming the first chase group. A whole slew of riders sat just behind them, as the riders looked to break out of the competitive pack.
During the second lap, Horning looked determined to back up his mid-week junk (food) talk and went to the front along with Lemke to open up a five-second gap on the chase group. Once the Angry Monkey got to the front, he felt good about driving the pace, “It was kind of toward the run-up, the large run-up. Once I got to that I was kind of in front and I knew that I had a little bit of a gap, and it was just ‘ride your race and everything will go well from there.’”
On the third trip around the circuit, Horning broke away from Lemke and extended the lead to ten seconds and then 20 by the end of the fourth lap. Horning would not look back during the penultimate and ultimate laps to take the victory and cap off a very successful 2016 Trek WCA Cyclocross campaign.
For Horning, the victory felt good for a number of reasons, “It felt so good. It felt good because of how much smack I gave everyone yesterday with the Doritos. And just that everything went according to plan.”
As is often the case, a great battle for second place broke out behind Horning. Daniel Breuer (Comrade Cycles Racing) trekked up from Chicago to add some Comraderie to the Wisconsin Cat 3 camaraderie. After a slow start, the Chicago racer (who also podiumed at Sijan Cross) slowly worked his way back into second place during the fourth of six laps. Harrison Winkel emerged from the chase group to stick the closest to Breuer. Breuer would prove too strong over the last two laps, and Winkel had to settle for third on the afternoon.
Behind the top three, two riders also quietly worked their way into top five positions. Michael Kernan (Brazen Dropouts), the victor at Cross the Isthmus, finished in fourth, and Narayan Mahon (The Field Riders Guild, Local 608) moved into fifth by the race’s completion.
Neff Turns in Yet Another Nfn Solid Performance
Speaking of coming at the king, Isaac Neff (Team Neff Cycle Service) has had a pretty solid 2016 campaign, with only the Wisco Disco Brian Matter denying him victory in six non-UCI starts coming into Saturday. Neff continued his reign of dominance with another strong performance in the Men’s Elite race on the Trek grounds on Saturday. As he did at Cross the Isthmus, Brian Fosler (801 W. Madison) – who is having a season of his own – gave Neff a strong challenge early on, but he was unable to keep pace with Neff for the full 60 minutes and Neff pulled away for one of his two state championships on the weekend – he would win again at the Chicago Cross Cup edition on Sunday.
With temperatures dropping during the late afternoon, the Men’s Elite riders tried to heat things up with their customary hot start. Fosler and “the Hamburgler” Dan Teaters (Team Wheel and Sprocket) provided the early wattage early in the first lap. By the time the riders hit the Loathing Dock run-up, the afternoon’s pecking order had been well established. Fosler and Neff were in the lead group with a ten second lead over the chase group of the Nicest Man in Cyclocross Kyle Russ (Brazen Dropouts) and Teaters.
Early in the second lap, Fosler signaled his intent to put up a strong fight on his home course by attacking through one of the grass sections before the flyover. Fosler held strong for a lap, but any time you are coming at the king Neff, you know that he is going to put in a hard attack that you absolutely must stick with if you are going to challenge him later in the race. That attack happened on Lap 3 on Saturday, and Neff was able to use it to open up a small gap shortly before the flyover that he continued to extend into a sizeable lead during the next lap.
After the race, Neff said that he felt much better about his customary Pedal Hard move than he did at Cross the Isthmus, “I think today it did. That was about it. On a course like this that is so physically-demanding, my personal preference is to go hard pretty early in the race or as soon as I feel like I have settled into a good groove where I have figured out the lines so I can go a little bit faster. I gave a little dig on the third lap and got a little gap and decided to sort of chip away at it and was able to do that.”
Neff would hold a comfortable lead over Fosler for the remainder of the race to take home the victory. Fosler, in turn, held an even more comfortable over the two chasers Teaters and Russ. Teaters was able to put in an attack that stuck shortly before the flyover on the fourth lap that propelled him into a firm grasp on third. Nothing would change for the remainder of the race as the sun began to set on both the Trek Factory grounds and the day of racing at the Wisconsin State Championships. Teaters took third and locked up the Wisconsin Super Cup championship, while Russ took fourth and Massachusetts native John Eckert (unattached) rounded out the top five.
Earlier in the week Neff indicated on Twitter that he was looking forward to racing at Trek without receiving a knock Wout blow from the World Champion. When asked about the afternoon, he indicated that despite Fosler’s challenge, it just was not quite the same as hitting the start line with Van Aert and company, “It did seem a lot easier, yes. It was a little more riding at your own pace.”
Dan Teaters Illisconsin Watch
Earlier this season, the WisCXonsin Race Report pointed out that Dan Teaters had a non-zero chance at winning both the Wisconsin and Illinois state cyclocross championships this year. In an off-the-record conversation, Teaters indicated that these very pages may or may not have motivated him to go after the legendary two-state state championship.
Teaters successfully completed his quest over the weekend. As mentioned above, the Team Wheel and Sprocket rider took third at Trek to finish as the Super Cup winner over Bryan Fosler and Kyle Russ. On Sunday, Teaters headed to Chicago and took home another third place finish to clinch the overall Chicago Cross Cup championship as well.
Teaters is also making a play for the Nicest Man in Cyclocross award after donating all of his Chicago Cross Cup race winnings to several charities that the series supports and announcing that he will announce the Wisconsin charities he will donate his WCA winnings to at the 2016 WCA Cyclocross Party on December 17 at the Nitty Gritty in Sun Prairie after the Midwest Cyclocross Regionals at Angell Park.
What’s On Tap with One Barrel Brewing
Even though the Wisconsin State Championship has come and gone, there is still more cyclocross cheer in the air. The Midwest Cyclocross Regionals return to Wisconsin for the first time since 2012 on Saturday, December 17 at Angell Park in Sun Prairie. Literally all (ok, like 91%) of the information you need about MWCX can be found at this handy information page.
The 2016 Trek WCA Cyclocross Season CXelebration is also being held on Saturday, December 17 after MWCX at the Nitty Gritty in Sun Prairie. It is literally two blocks from Angell Park, so come to Regionals, come to the party. It will be fun to reminisce about the season that was in Wisconsin cyclocross.
Finally, the Trek WCA Cyclocross calendar ends on Sunday, December 18 with the Midwest Grand Prix of Cyclocross at Angell Park. Rumor is that the course may be backwards and there may be a pick-up single-speed race, but both are TBA.
Get all the latest updates about MWCX at the Midwest Cyclocross Championships Facespace page.
Recent episodes of the Wiscrossin’ Podcast:
2016 Wisconsin State Championships Results - Elite Women
|2||Erin||Feldhausen||Trek Midwest Team|
|3||Emily||Imdieke||North Dakota State University|
|4||Caitlin||Neuman||Brazen Dropouts Cycling Team|
|7||Julie||Phelps||Gryphon Velo Racing|
2016 Wisconsin State Championships Results - Elite Men
|2||Bryan||Fosler||801 W. Madison|
|3||Dan||Teaters||Team Wheel & Sprocket|
|4||Kyle||Russ||Brazen Dropouts Cycling Team|
|6||Seth||Eckert||801 W. Madison|
|8||Christopher||Finkeldei||KS Energy Services / MOSH / Team Wiscons|
|9||Travis||Braun||Revolution Cycles Club|
|10||Matthew||Riley||KS Energy Services / MOSH / Team Wiscons|
|11||Matthew||Kamphuis||Trek Midwest Team|