Season Opener: Illiniwek Abermination Race Recap

Friends of Off Road Cycling led by new Race Director Mike Corbin put together a wonderful opening weekend for mountain bike racers – not only for the 2016 IMBCS Series, but also for the Illinois State Championship Series at Illiniwek Forest Preserve in Hampton, Illinois.  And what a job FORC did for us to create a great racing event!

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Ma Nature played nice with us this year for the opening event by providing sunshine, temperatures that reached 81 degrees, and baked goodness dirt that was fast and smooth. 178 Cross Country Racers toed the line for the various categories, and 19 kids were in the 12 Noon Kids Race making for a day that saw 197 people racing a mountain bike.

A field of 28 CAT I Men lined up including WORS Elite star Nathan Guerra, IMBCS regulars Kevin McConnell, Nate Kullbom, Michael Maney, Ryan Van Houweling, as well as a few of our newly upgraded CAT I’s here in Iowa – Andy Peterson, Sean Alstott and Nickolas Eckermann. We had 7 CAT I women toe the line including Liz Van Houweling, Emily Robnett, Brittany McConnell, and a return of Karmen Woelber after a crash rendered her out for the season last year.

The CAT I field heading into the singletrack…

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Nathan Guerra continued his excellent form from the end of his WORS season last year where he took 1st place in the final two WORS races, and once again earned top spot on the podium at Illiniwek after battling it out with Kevin McConnell and Nate Kullbom for 105 minutes.

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On the women’s side, Liz Van Houweling earned her top podium spot with Emily Robnett taking 2nd. Both of these racers were featured in one of our spotlight’s last year and it is good to see them riding so strong this early in the season.

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Thanks to our GoFundMe Campaign and those 23 folks that have generously donated to it to date, the fund covered the costs of 31 JUNIORS (age 18 and under racers) entry fees to race in the Illiniwek Abermination. This is an excellent initiative this year. If you would like to contribute to help ensure that our age 18 and under racers fees are covered, just click HERE.

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The course was in perfect shape and name of the race using the word Abermination aptly describes some of the features riders were treated to out on the course with a combination of many dirt berms and wooden berms to provide cornering thrills, chills, and yes – even spills.

It was good to see Tony Branch back out racing his mountain bike again this year…

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The more one leaned into them, the more fun one could have…

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Or, racers like Ryan Van Houweling tested the very upper limits of riding on the edge at times…

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Spectators enjoyed the weather and found places to get a good view of the action…

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Jon Shinbori used his craftsmanship for FORC to come up with the unique awards this year which everyone agreed were pretty sweet…

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Our Title Sponsor – World of Wheels – paid out a cash purse of $500 to COMP, CAT II, and CAT III top 3 overall times making this year a brand new, and unique podium chase for everybody who toes the line at one of the IMBCS events.

CAT I Men’s podium…

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Jacqueline Maney grabbed a podium spot on the CAT II Women for her first race and a World of Wheels cash payout.

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Tara Starr grabbed top spot in her age class for CAT III and a World of Wheels overall CAT III podium spot.

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I’m sure husbands Michael Maney and Bruce Brown will be getting non-stop tips from Jacqueline and Tara on what we need to do to make the podium. :-)

The Illiniwek Abermination put smiles on all racers and spectators thanks to the fun, flowing course, beautiful Spring weather, and roller coaster fun of those berms…

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Top Overall Podiums for our CAT I Cash Payouts and our new World of Wheels cash purse went to…

CAT I Men: Nathan Guerra; Kevin McConnell: Nate Kullbom

CAT I Women: Elizabeth Van Houweling; Emily Robnett; Beverly Enslow

COMP: Taylor Hunter; Joe Peterson; Scott Shelman

CAT II Men: Seth Culbertson; Ethan Jedlicka; Erik Bandy

CAT II Women: Kendra Law; Lauren Wolfe; Jacqueline Ladaga

CAT III Men: Ryan Wilkins; Tim Ferry; Mike Sacks

CAT III Women: Mandy Griesenbeck; Tara Starr; Rose Ayers

JUNIOR Men: Shay Wright; Samuel Errthum; Colin Knowles

JUNIOR Women: Tianach Ryan; Iris Thaller; Danielle Szymanaski

FULL RESULTS can be found HERE.

Congratulations to the overall winners, and to all racers who participated. IMBCS thanks FORC, Mike Corbin and his volunteer crew for hosting the season opener. We also thank all of our sponsors for the series, and the sponsors that were part of the Illiniwek Abermination.

Next up for IMBCS is the May 1st Beverly Fat Tire Frenzy hosted by LAMBA and Race Director Noel Kehrt at Beverly Park in Cedar Rapids. It will be our 2nd XC race for the 2016 IMBCS Season, and our 1st Marathon as well as 1st Trail Run venue for this year.

Make your plans now to attend and get a piece of the action!

**All photographs used in this post have been purchased and are credited to Drew Hanson of Hanson Photo Design. You can purchase photographs taken at the Illiniwek Abermination by Drew HERE.