National level mountain biking is coming to Wisconsin! On Saturday there will be an opportunity to watch some of the best mountain bikers in the country (and beyond) compete in a UCI race. And then on Sunday amatuer racers will have a chance to participate on the exact same course! With everything from a kid’s race to a ‘try-it-out’ all the way up to elite level, there is something for everyone.
The Englewood Open is set to run again for 2021, this year bringing another level of excitement to Fall River, WI. Professional mountain bike racing will be coming to this small grass-fed beef farm 30 minutes north of Madison. I recently had the opportunity to visit with Ben Agnew, owner of Englewood Grass Farm, and learn more about how he transformed his family farm into a race course that is part of a new national series.
Many mountain bikers wish they had world class trails in their backyard, but not many actually make it happen. Ben shared that when he was younger he was into motocross and started creating some basic trails around the property with friends and family to practice riding. He had previously ridden mountain bikes and picked one up again only to realize how much he enjoyed it – as a bonus it was also very family friendly and he was able to get his wife and kids involved too.
Slowly the trails around the farm grew and developed, and a fun mountain bike course was created. In 2017 the course went live for a WORS race. If you aren’t familiar, WORS (the Wisconsin Off-Road Series) is the premier state-wide mountain bike series. For over 20 years racers have been traveling around the state, competing in a series of 8-10 races at various venues. The series has seen the development of national level talent, but also has been a venue for the average rider to participate in a fun, yet competitive series of racing.
So how did Ben turn cow paths into epic trails? He shared that he could go back to work on the trails and just take a break from daily life – cell reception was spotty, which was actually a nice benefit. His wife, Kristi, and his kids also pitch in when it comes to building and maintaining the trails. Every year during WORS the course was tweaked slightly, with improvements that while gradual, were impressive nonetheless.
How did the course go from WORS to USA Cup? Ben said in 2019 ASU Devo Director, Matt Knowles, contacted Tara McCarthy at USA Cycling, who is the Senior National Events Manager. Knowles has a keen interest in opportunities as a coach, but also as a parent. He explained to McCarthy that the midwest was being left out – there were many races in the West, and a few in the East, but nothing in the middle of the country. Developing racers didn’t have the budget to be traveling around the country to qualify for national and international level opportunities, which was also a problem for USA Cycling – they were missing out on some key talent. A couple of races were also added in Northwest Arkansas, and several recent WORS racers competed and found success. See more about the series here: https://uscupmtb.com/index.php/us-cup-series/
BIke Fed celebrates all forms of cycling, not just serious racing. However, we would strongly encourage anyone with an interest in watching or participating to head to Fall River. On Saturday there will be an opportunity to watch some of the best mountain bikers in the country (and beyond) compete with nothing less than Olympic qualifying points on the line. And then on Sunday amatuers will have a chance to participate on the exact same course! With everything from a kid’s race to a ‘try-it-out’ all the way up to elite level, there is something for everyone. Cycling is a special sport in that you can watch the entire race from the front row, at no cost, and then compete on the very same course the pro riders use. You can also get a burger and even take some grass-fed beef home – this is a great opportunity to visit the farm and see how and where your meat is produced. We hope to see you there!
More information about the amatuer events check out the event website.
The course will be open for pre-riding Friday for Pros and UCI Juniors 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m., all WORS racers 2:30 p.m. till 7:00 p.m. Friday.
Saturday’s Pro XCT and Junior XCO is scheduled as follows:
10 am Junior Girls XCO (ages 17-18 only, UCI license required)
12 pm Junior Boys XCO (ages 17-18 only, UCI license required)
2 pm Womens Pro XCT (ages 19 and up, UCI license required)
4 pm Mens Pro XCT (ages 19 and up, UCI license required)
Sunday will be USAC points only and follow the standard WORS format. Details here: https://wors.org/schedule/1-englewood-open
A special thanks to Ben Agnew for taking the time to share about this wonderful venture. Ben and Kristi want to thank Trek for their ongoing support of their farm. It has allowed them to continue to grow, and some of their best customers and friends are Trek employees.