Wisconsin is home to many bike rides and races (see the full list), and we are truly lucky to have such great opportunities. As an event director, I know firsthand the challenges and opportunities that go into organizing a bike race, and also the rewards that come with a successful event. However, I’ve never run a statewide series, as Trek has done with the Wisconsin Off-Road Series (WORS).
By Chris Stindt, Wisconsin Bike Fed Newsletter Editor and ORA Trails Fest Race Director
Last year I was surprised to hear our friends at Trek had taken over the series. They wanted to make sure the nation’s premier summer mountain bike series had a long term home and didn’t go anywhere. They jumped in with both feet, but given the short time between taking over and the first race happening, it was straight into the deep end. And anyone who races the WORS series knows, once the racing starts, it keeps on rolling throughout the summer.
Over the winter Marcus Warrington, Trek’s WORS Series Coordinator had a chance to catch up, evaluate, and plan for the future. For 2023 things are going to continue to improve (and not just because I wrangled Marcus into adding La Crosse as a new venue). In my new role as event director for ORA Trails Fest, I’ve had the first hand opportunity to see the dedication that Marcus and the entire Trek team have to making each WORS race a premier opportunity for mountain biking.
In the interest of continual improvement, there are three big changes to highlight for 2023.
Free “Newbie” Racing
What’s the best way to introduce new people to the sport of mountain bike racing? Trek wanted to lower the barriers to entry as much as possible, and I couldn’t agree more. So for 2023, they made a big change: free racing for beginners and those new to the sport. Branded as the “Newbie” category, the race is absolutely free and will be one lap on a beginner-friendly course. Riders are invited to participate in this free category for 3 events, so that they’re entirely comfortable before advancing to a higher category.
Introduction of Multi-Day Racing & Expansion of Disciplines
WORS races generally consist of the most popular form of mountain biking – cross country racing. But cross-country is only one of many mountain bike disciplines, and in 2023, WORS is introducing more of them into the race calendar. In La Crosse we’re going to add enduro racing, an exciting form of downhill mountain biking. Evening short track racing is also on tap. In Waterloo, there will be Dual Slalom and Short Track racing, both on Saturday. At these events, and all throughout WORS, a festival is being built around the racing for a full weekend of good times.
WORS received feedback from women racers who didn’t always have the best experience when they shared the course with men. Most racers were very considerate, but a tight timeline led to some women being passed by an aggressive lead group of men from a different category. So for 2023 women’s sport and elite category racers will have the course to themselves. The next men’s race won’t start for two full hours, allowing women to race to their full potential and maximum enjoyment. Trek is working to become more inclusive and hopes as a result more women feel comfortable lining up to race at an event.
Additionally, in an effort at continued improvement, Trek will have iPads available to fill out a feedback form at each race. Fill it out and get some swag! Seems like a win-win for everyone involved.
Races start in Iola on May 7th and continue through the end of August at Treadfest. See you at the finish line soon! www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/wors/