WEMS 1: Northern Kettles Endurance Challenge

SONY DSCThe 2013 Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike Series got off to a big start on a cold day at the Northern Kettles Endurance Challenge put on by Team Pedal Moraine.  College racer Ben Senkerik of Wheel& Sprocket/Vison led the hopeful 100 mile field onto a slick single-track course that rolled fast through the Kettle Moraine.  All expected that the rain had passed and the sun would soon be drying the slippery rock, but as Senkerik started his second lap with a couple minutes over Ripon College teammate Tony Kautz, dark clouds were already rolling in from the west.  Would the rain hold off, and could a long course rookie ike Kautz, hold off the experienced WEMS veteran Rich Lytle of Team Raspi who was right behind him?

Soon the rains soon did fall with a sudden drop in temperature, and a strong gust was carnage for canopies in the pits.  By lap three the racers were enduring greasy clay in a sleet storm, but still they rolled on, smiling about how weird it was to see those little white pellets falling in their path.  A late spring had these Wisconsin riders well seasoned and ready for anything.

WEMSBBy lap four the sun was out, and although the wind rarely let up and the temperatures never left the forties, conditions improved and actual traction allowed the lap times to drop.  Senkerik continued to extend his lead and even late in the race was able to fend off some snarky surges from seasoned team riders.   He finished the long course in 8:56, a full hour ahead of Kautz who persevered to hold off Lytle by 12 minutes.  The 2013 long course series looks to be a wide open battle between veterans Lytle, Tyler Welnak, David Swanson and 2012 mid-course champ Matt Millin, but a deep group of rookies could surprise everyone by October.  Three-time defending women’s champ Denise Coppock  added another long course win at 11:23.

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Mountain Bike Radio’s own Ben Welnak came home to roll over the 60-mile mid-course event in a blazing 5:10 while 2012 mid-course runner-up Sonni Klipp earned a nice win in the women’s event.  Snow delayed the start of Wisconsin’s short course series so a deep field of racers were eager to test their legs in the 30-mile event at North Kettles.  Nathan Guerra of Vision Pro Cycling flew to the win in 2:16, and Honey Stinger’s Abby Strigel found the speed for a 2:43 win in the women’s event.  WEMS riders will see each other again on June 8th for an energized Stump Farm 100.

Full results can be found HERE.

Words: Chris Schotz
Photos: seenbyjordan.com

 

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