Kerry Werner

Kerry and Becca Head North to the Pan Am Champs, Eh!

Becca: From the time we left my parent’s house in Ohio and drove up to Midland, it was raining. Into our pre-ride. It was raining. Kerry was pretty excited about this. I was not so sure how I felt. It was my first time at the Silver Goose race in Ontario, Canada, and though I had heard the course was fun, that is a pretty vague description. Preride proved it was suuuuper tricky – it made me think of NBX with off-cambers. Lots of line choices to avoid roots, rocks, and other oddities. Add in the slippery ground and the off-cambers were quite tricky, and finding the speed limit was a game of guess-and-check.

Kerry: We woke up to sprinkles and by the time we loaded up the truck we encountered a light dusting of snow. So the course was going to be super slick still.

We lined up on Saturday morning before the women, which is always a treat. I enjoy getting done and catching the end of the ladies race.

I had my mind set on the whole shot because there was a left hand swooping 180º, slick AF, corner right off the start straight. That was followed by a right 180º corner and a slippery false flat into another corner.

After the gun I found my pedals then promptly pulled my right foot out of my pedals (note to self, tension the pedals before Pan Ams tomorrow). I settled into the top 5 and tried to avoid the chaos!

In the first couple laps there was a larger group at the front taking turns and testing each other. It came down to Gage, MvDH, Stephen, Cooper Willsey and myself with two laps to go… Though the first part of the course was slick it wasn’t quite enough to make a huge impact. The second half of the course was tacking up so the technical bits weren’t playing a huge role on the outcome of the race.

Gage sent it off the front on a small climb out of pit 1. MvDH followed. Stephen hesitated and I was on the back of the group, not the best position to be at the end of a race.

After that move went I adjusted and decided not to go all in to try and bring Gage and MvDH back. Part of me thought Stephen was saving some for Sunday and if that was the case I was going to do the same.

Stephen and I came through with one to go and hit the slick bits together. I was pedaling on a straight part when all of a sudden I was on my ass! After I stopped sliding I watched Stephen ride away and the podium with him. He shortly bridged the gap to MvDH while I had to fight to keep Cooper off my wheel.

I was a little disappointed, I was hoping to have a good race and use that momentum to carry me into Pan Ams on Sunday. But this is a fickle sport where adjustments must be made from day to day. I put off my missed podium as a result of my rookie mud riding maneuver and convinced myself that it was a good opener and Sunday I’ll be raring and ready to rock!

Becca: Because I felt so tentative on the course I was happy that Saturday was a C2 and the big game of Pan Ams was on Sunday. But then again, I knew the big game was on Sunday and that was also lingering on my mind for all of Saturday. I told myself to give it my all on Saturday because I figured I wasn’t exactly going to win on Sunday, but that is easier said than done when the environment is one of stifled brewing energy, bubbling in everyone’s legs and chests.

Saturday, I pushed hard in the early parts of the race, but I found myself dabbing and bobbling often and it was making me get gapped off of 4th. I started to channel the need to ride smooth instead of race fast and at first, I got dropped a little but I quickly found a groove and settled in. Soon, it was a battle for 3rd between myself, Maghalie, and Clara Honsinger. I got a pedal jammed into a stake on a steep climb, blocking Maghalie. We battled up the steps but I let her have the first one into the drop because I knew she was going faster than me – having just climbed back into contention after a mechanical. I thought she was going to race away with it but instead just stayed there, dangling ahead of me.

We had 1.5 or 2 laps to go and I pitted for a clean drivetrain. Clara passed me. And, that was the race. I yo-yoed off of Clara’s wheel for the rest of the lap, all with Maghalie in sight. I finished 5th, within 30 seconds of the winner. It was a good race, and one I knew I could have done smarter and thus finished better. But that was fuel for Sunday.

Kerry: The team retired to a dinner of chili and fireplace conversation. The perfect way to shake the northern Ontario cold. I went to bed counting sheep and dreaming of a big stack of pancakes smothered in Canadian maple syrup conjured up from just down the road.

We woke up to a sunny and blustery morning. This made me frown. I knew it wasn’t going to rain but I was still hoping for some slick corners. With this weather hanging around all day our race would likely see a dry course.

Sure enough, I got to the track and told Dave to slap the Maxxis Speed Terrane’s on. Files it was! While I am a sucker for a muddy race I am also a sucker for a muddy race followed by a tacky, hero dirt, track where you run muds on Saturday and file treads on Sunday. 

The sandy gritty soil was not hanging on to moisture and a few corners were crumbling under the continuous stress of gripping tire treads. 

I ripped my Jakroo Hawaiian print flower pants off with 3min to go, dropped my jacket with 2min to go, and waited for the 30sec warning. Then I dropped the clutch on the whistle. I tightened my pedals so all systems were go and I hit the first corner in front. There was so much grip that the track was like a highway. Strung out from the gun!

With no technical bits or slippery parts to break up the racing, we saw a big group at the front for the first half of the race. 

The front group didn’t whittle down to four until about three laps to go. MvDH was doing a lot of work on the front. He had home soil watts and cheers of “GO, eh!” To propel him through the race. Curtis and Stephen were right up there. I was suffering though. 

With the course being fast and tacky there weren’t enough punchy parts for me. I find my fitness is better when the efforts are shorter instead of longer power sections, which is what the course comprised of. I did my best to hang on to the back of the group. 

There were 2.5 laps to go when Stephen rolled his ankle into the concrete stair set and hung MvDH up with him. Curtis skirted the pile-up and immediately got a gap. He put his head down and tried to pour it on. MvDH wasn’t having it. I tried to hang on to his wheel as he brought Curtis back but it was too much. I fell off his wheel with 3/4 of a lap to go and limped it in for 3rd.

Again, I wanted that win and jersey to go along with it. But I can definitely walk away and say I emptied the tank. It just wasn’t my day for the top step. Third is better then I did last year so I took some more UCI points home to help me stay top-ranked American for at least a couple more weeks. 

Becca: Where Saturday was slippy, Sunday was grippy. It was actually just like Cinci (but much less slippery on Saturday) and we went from muds to files. 

I had an okay start, but in the first lap, I found I couldn’t quite match the efforts of the front 3 or 4 and again found myself in 5th. We raced last but had been at the venue for nearly 5 hours, riding on and off and I think my legs were just heavy from the schedule. I knew they would come around, I just had to wait for it. The energy from the spectators was so strong that it actually kind of took me aback – I channeled it but didn’t really have a way to release again. I felt squirrely. 

Going into the second lap I slid out HARD on an off-camber turn – my tires skittering across a hard rut because I was holding the brakes instead of letting it flow. The group of four or so behind me passed by. I picked up my bike, gave it a look, and hopped on. The speeds were so high they already had a big gap on me. I took a few minutes to find my groove again and just kept churning away. Despite riding smooth (well, everything but the sand. Sand is my nemesis.)

I wasn’t gaining any ground on anyone in the group. After a lap of being alone, Catherine Pendral was coming along behind me and I felt a little extra gear to fight. With that, I passed one rider, and then she and I battled until we both passed another. 

I loved following her lines – Catherine is a multi-time mountain bike world champ and it shows. She has great flow and her line choices are less “hereish” and more “THERE THERE THERE THERE”. I can’t describe it better than that. When I would use a broad brush to outline where I hoped to roll, with precision she pushes her tires where she needs them to be.

For a lap I was actively battling holding her wheel and passing when I thought she may be able to outride me, acting as a blocker. When we had less than a quarter lap to go, it was my worst part of the lap: the loose corners and the tricky (for me) sand. It was the perfect time to be in the lead to block her from drawing away.

I botch a turn and tell her to just freaking pass me. I literally pause for her too. I could feel her sawing at my rear tires as I rode (not physically touching, just hovering) and I was feeling embarrassed by my inadequacies. Hell if I was going to let her see me in the sand. I took the few extra turns on her wheel as I would a science class. I took the loss in payout and UCI points as tuition. 

Eighth. Eighth place and I knew I had fourth. I know I am a podium contender. I know it is there. Recently all of my race reports are accounts of near misses, almost, excuses, and lessons learned. I know eventually, I have to shit or get off the pot. None of this is choice – I want to win, I am trying to win, and I know I can (not always, but, at least like, once, right?). I feel like I am due for a breakthrough, and I know it won’t happen by luck but it will happen with me putting these pieces together. There is no question that I am going for the wins in my next two weekends: Northampton and Supercross. If they happen, let’s all have cake. If they don’t, let’s still eat cake. 

The most important thing is this weekend is not a lost opportunity for Team Kona, but instead fuel for the bigger fire. 

Cincy CX: A Race Fit For A King

Becca: The Cincinnati race weekend is close to a hometown race for me, having grown up about an hour north (note that in Ohio we measure distance in time). Despite my love for the race, it never really goes super well for me. Last year my body gave up, leaving me unable to pedal through my favorite type of heavy-mud conditions on day one at Devou. Day two went okay. Years before it was never complain-worthy but not super great. This year, knowing that both days were going to be at the King’s venue, I was pretty hopeful that I could finally excel on the C1 day – that course is raw power.

I was anxious for our race, knowing the start would be everything on the twisty, slippy course. I warmed up, focusing on the start effort. Front row call-up always adds some nerve, but it was long straight away and I built my confidence.

The whistle blew. I got my pedal and pedaled fast. I found myself drifting back and realized I had forgotten to shift. I shift and pedal, pedal, and shift. I am top five exiting the pavement, a good place to be. A few turns and I feel that the pace is slow. I go to the front. 

I.

Go.

To.

The.

Front.

Then I realize why the pace was slow. I slide out. Whoopsie daisies. It was slicker than even the preride. The best way to describe the surface is with saying it was like snot on glass: the top layer was saturated and was sliding on the otherwise dry and hard ground underneath. It never rained hard enough to saturate down below.

I go from first to third. Someone slides out in front of me and I go to fifth. Another slide. Seventh. Chase through to fifth. It was really a game of back and forth, not by who was going fastest but who was crashing the least. I was powering passed people when I could, only to crash in the turns. I was not riding smoothly or keeping my power in check. I was frantic, worried about the race and not the ride. I hate looking back because it is all so fixable in hindsight! It was so different from in preride that things I was riding easily had turned in to runs during the race and I didn’t have long toe spikes in so I wasn’t getting good foot traction. I was able to ride some things but when I saw others running I would hop off and it was maybe a worse decision than just staying on the bike.

 I was always so back and forth with people that I never pitted – it didn’t seem necessary. I must have bumped my rear derailleur hanger and that combined with the mud made my chain drop between my wheel and cassette. I had to stop to pull it out. Luckily, it didn’t get wedged because it was easy to pull out, and luckily this had before and I remembered to shift into an easier cog so that it didn’t happen again right when I got on – that’s a win. But in the time it took me to fix that, my solid lead on the chasers (who were in seventh and eighth) greatly diminished. I pitted for a new bike and in being yet more frantic to regain my old place I crashed even more. I ended up finishing eighth, quite disappointed in myself for the sloppy riding and rookie mistakes.

After the race I was able to find some positives, like my start, aggressive riding, and remembering to fix an error post-crash. I also felt a lot better after watching the men’s race, because they looked like deer on ice and it was HILARIOUS!!

Kerry: After checking out the course on Friday I was really pumped for Saturday’s race. It was shaping up to be a real slip n’ slide, especially once all the amateur racers got rid of all the grass. I was all smiles going to bed on Friday night and looking forward to the forecast for rain overnight and drizzling throughout the day on Saturday. 

Sure enough, when we arrived around noon for pre-ride on Saturday morning the ground was hard underneath and there was a thin layer of slick mud snaking its way between the tape. The name of the game was “smooth is fast” and how uniquely can you draw lines to find the most traction. For me this was skirting the main lines drawn from earlier races and running wide or inside, popping over the main line, and back out to the grass on the other side of the corner. Another phrase that comes to mind is “grass is fast”.

After watching the juniors race followed by the women’s race I had a pretty good idea that the race was going to blow apart. Therefore, I was dead set on getting the whole shot and having line choice and a wide open line of sight in front of me.

I didn’t quite get whole shot but I was second wheel to Gage. Then I jumped around him on the second set of off cambers. Then I quickly fell behind him as I floundered for traction. I was foot out tri-poding and my clipped in foot was still pedaling, nevertheless, I was moving backwards. I knew that meant my tire selection was not quite up to par so I got into the pit on a more aggressive tire. 

This immediately proved to be advantageous and I started making up some lost ground. Unfortunately, it was a little too late. By this time Gage and Lance were up the road about 15 seconds. 

I did all I could muster but could bring Gage back. He was riding super consistently at the front and maintaining his lead. Lance, on the other hand, started to fall apart on the last lap and I brought the gap down to single digit seconds. One more lap and second place may have been achievable. 

It was one of those races when you finished and didn’t feel super depleted. There just weren’t many sections where you could put down power. And the few sections that I could put down power I was hesitant too because I wanted to have my wits about me when I hit the slippery bits. It was all about managing and gauging efforts so you could stay consistent. I did that well, which I was happy about but coming up short lit a bit of a fire for Sunday’s race.

Becca: Day two. Would it be more muddy, just as slick, or a power course? Lucky for me, the wind dried up all the snot and then the sun came out to seal the deal on the tacky course! It was changed to cut out some corners, add some elevation, and make it overall more Becca-friendly. [Note: I LOVE the mud and perform really well in it. But Saturday was not muddy. It was snotty and just not a good environment for where I am in my racing right now]. The wind was so gusty that everyone had to take their tents down and really batten down the hatches. Gusts up to 45mph, not surprising if that was the speed of some of the sustained wind as well.

The whole day I felt mellow and quiet. I was in my head, but my head was empty. I decided that I wasn’t going to race that day. I would show up on the start line with a number, but I was the only person out there. I was going to ride smoothly. I chose a more aggressive tread than I needed on the day only because I couldn’t get the slippiness of Saturday out of my head, and I didn’t want that fear to linger out on the course.

Another good start for me. I had to battle some overly aggressive riders, but I was able to come out in front of them and settled solidly into fourth place, in line behind Ellen, Kaitie and Katerina. Good wheels to be on, and being that it was so windy it was good to be on wheels. I was anxious and the pace was low so I kept half wheeling – like a dick. Using my own energy doing mini yo-yo movements. Even worse is my ability to follow wheels. I was letting little gaps open up that I had to shut down. My own fault. I just don’t see how the other riders do it, follow each other so closely like a choreographed dance. I was seeing other riders slip and I was reacting to them. I was seeing them falter and making sure I didn’t get tangled. I was being reactive instead of proactive. 

After two laps I was tired of closing my own gaps and seeing that the group was still 10-deep I knew I had to do something or I was going to be at the tail end of the 10. I go to the front. I don’t attack, I just go there and ride the course how I wanted to. I really underestimated that headwind, though. On a day like that the usual 20% drafting advantage is put to 80% advantage no DOUBT. I am at the front for nearly a lap, and when the podium contenders wanted to pass, they did so easily. I know I could have kept up with their paces, but for some reason, there were a few turns that I could not get out of my head from the prior day’s race and I was going slow, picking around the ground trolls that were taking my wheels out from under me the day before. At some point Clara passed me, taking fourth, and I for some reason I just couldn’t close the gap. Maybe I had mellowed out my brain too much for the day, overcompensating from the day before. Maybe my legs were empty. I was not exhausted at the finish, but I was proud, and I guess that is worth it, to have finished a proud fifth than a regretful… somewhere further back. 

The ability to dance at the front is a skill that I should have worked on last year, except last year I never made it to the front to try, so here I am, a year later working on skills I should already have. I put in two good days of racing, but swapping around some aggression and decision making could have made two good days one really great day, or at least two better days. Each weekend I am clawing my way further and further up the results list* (relative to race quality), being very consistent, taking something away from every race, and usually applying to the next. Who knows, maybe I will have another breakthrough at the coming race at Pan Ams? Maybe Nationals? Heck, maybe I should save the breakthrough for worlds 😉

Kerry: Sunday the course went to the opposite side of the spectrum. From greasy slick to tacky dry. Muds to files. I slapped on some Maxxis Speed Terrane’s and was ready to rock. 

There were huge gusts of winds, 30-40 mph. Tents were getting whipped around like sails and the course tape was ballooning out across various sections of the course. 

I figured because of this the race would be a huge pack race like it was in the juniors race. In the women’s race, the first lap saw a huge group of 10-15 riders strong, so I assumed our race would follow suit.

I got the whole shot and kept her pinned. The technical sections on the second half of the course split our race up a bit more than I initially thought and so I kept the hammer down. 

A predicted sprinkle touched down on lap two so I hit the pit for a more aggressive tire. So did everyone else. Couple the gaps that formed from everyone pitting with the wind and the high pace and our race shattered. 

Gage, Curtis, Stephen, and I were on the same page keeping the pace high. By mid-race we managed to have a good gap between our group of four and the rest of the field. 

Then Curtis came off and then there were three heading into the last lap. 

Curtis didn’t lay down by any means and was chomping at the bit to latch on to our group trading pulls with Jamey Driscoll. 

Gage went first just inside half a lap to go. I latched on to his wheel and Stephen came off a bit. Gage kept the pedal to the metal and was pouring it on. I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth until I came unclipped trying to wrestle all the forward momentum I could out of my bike. I clipped back in but this allowed Gage another two bike lengths heading into the final feature on course. 

I kept pushing and hopped the barriers to maintain contact just as we turned right on to the finish pavement stretch. 

Gage sat up for a split second and looked back over his right shoulder. So, naturally, I punched it up the inside! 

With so much of a headwind into the finish line, I knew I needed all the help I could get and I may have got a bike length ahead before Gage reacted and got on my wheel. 

I was looking back under my armpit watching his front wheel creep closer and closer ahead of mine but I had just enough to hold him off.

Razor thin margin but a win is a win!

Check the last minute of the CX Hairs Maxxis Cyclocross Television “minisode”

I was gassed as you could imagine but so happy I didn’t lay down after Gage put the wood to me and had a few bike lengths on me. Persistence and a little bit of ninja work on the finish sprint got me to the top of the podium and has my confidence up heading into Pan-Ams looking for a new jersey.

Also, check Vlog 21 for all the behind the scenes shenanigans….

DCCX: Racing in the Nationals Capitol

Kerry: My wife, father in law, and the doggies headed north for the nations capitol on Thursday evening. We split up the drive with the RV and rolled into the venue to find Robert Marion and his big ol RV and trailer stuck in the parking area. We were appreciative that he went ahead and figured that out before we did. 

Being only eight miles from the national mall we hit a bike path and rolled into the capitol to be tourists. We checked out the National Monument, the Capitol building, and the Lincoln Memorial before heading back to the venue and calling it a night. 

Bill Shieken, one of the promoters of DCCX and founder of CXHairs, was gracious enough to host Becca. Emily and I decided to “camp” at the venue in the RV. RV life is far from roughing it, believe me. I wish I could stay in the RV all season. 

Day 1

Becca: I was pumped up after Charm City, finally breaking through a mental barrier I spent an entire year building up, brick by brick. I had never raced DCCX before, but this year I was excited to go to defend my lead in the PARKWAY CX TROPHY!!!!! The series was a 2 weekend 4 race series between Charm City and DCCX weekends based on cumulative time. Going into the weekend I was leading the series by 30 seconds or so ahead of Sunny Gilbert!

DCCX was a race weekend I was capable of winning, and the series was mine for taking. Finally, I was about to step up to Kerry Werner status. 

The course was flowy and pedally. There were roots and broken up pavement, but I wasn’t worried because I have learned to hop and float. The damp ground was watt-suckingly spongey, which made the straights slow and the corners rippable. A few of the corners were loose which just meant you had to stay alert and off your brakes. I had it all dialed. I even told Kerry I was feeling smooth – a good thing or a bad thing, who knows? 

Kerry: After some morning spins in Rock Creek Park we were all systems go. Now we just had to wait for the damn race to start. 3:15 for Becca and 4:15 for me.

Becca: Day 1 offered a prime for the 1st lap – the first rider across the line after lap 1 wins $250. At the gun Sunny Gilbert was ON IT, going after that prime and a 30 second lead over me. I Becca’d the start in a true Becca fashion, getting stuck behind a line of riders stuck behind a rider who could start but couldn’t turn. I am patient trying to pass, knowing my time would come. I catch Sunny at the line at the end of the 1st lap. 

She takes the prime but I take the lead – it wasn’t worth putting out an effort to burn a match when I had bigger things in mind. Like the big step of the 1st place podium spot. I take the lead and don’t look back. Sunny is chasing hard but I focus on my own race and my near 30-second lead until I get so confident I realize that I am about to win a bike race and I focus too hard. 

I know all I have to be is smooth, so I do the equivalent of waxing the day you need to show up in your bikini. You think you will be smooth but you will be red, blotchy, irritated, and just terrible. 

I stare into a loose corner and tell myself I will crash if I don’t let go of my brakes. So, I don’t let go of my brakes and I crash. I just slid out and hopped off, but I had to run up the next hill because of the gear I was in. Sunny closes the gap and I am caught. Each time I get a little lead I bobble again.

The next big bobble comes at the stairs as we approach the finish. I go to block her, thinking she is coming up on the inside and I hit a bump and end up riding my stem into the stairs. An impressive though not smooth dismount later keeps me in the running but I had unplugged a Di2 wire in the process. Shit. Shit shit shit. Which one was it? Can I shift? I find that I can. I think it was the front shifter but I didn’t need to shift that. No harm no foul. But I lost a split second just thinking of that. I was in the lead. I pass the pits and climb the hill to the finish straight. I know Sunny is back there. What do I do? I make THE mistake. I look back, sitting up a little wondering how to sprint. I should have kept pedaling. She closes the small gap and sits on my wheel. It is done. She comes around and outsprints me for the win. I overthought it at every turn. Making me crash. Making me bobble. Making me sit up. Making me not sprint to the level I know I can. 

I should have won that race. Sunny raced better than I did, was smoother, I know I know, but DAMMIT THAT RACE WAS MINE!!! 

Fear not, my friends. This was Saturday and there was a whole new race to be won on Sunday. And win it I shall. I was feeling fresh and optimistic on Sunday. The course was reversed with a few alterations. A few roots were tricky, but I was ready for them. 

Kerry: The temps were in the high 50º’s low 60º’s, perfect CX weather. There was some moisture on the ground and thus lots of traction, like hero dirt traction, almost too much traction. The slight uphills were a slog and a half!

As Becca mentioned the first lap show cased a $250 prime, Rapha money, so I was all set to go after that. I found my pedal straight away and got the whole shot.

I never looked back. Honestly, my biggest asset on that lap was hoping the barriers. I had everyone on the rivet before then but the soggy ground and slight climb after the barriers made hopping them and carrying momentum so efficient. 

I had a slight lead across the line and $250 more doll hairs in my pocket. So I kept pouring it on and they kept chasing. While I managed to increase my lead up to 25sec at max it would rollercoaster. I would have 15, then 10, then 20, then 10. So I had to stay on it and smooth. One slip up at the wrong time could have given those guys a carrot to chase. 

I was managing to ride the stairs, which wasn’t faster, due to the entry being a complete 180º uphill. But it was a crowd pleaser! So I kept the pace high that way I could afford a few extra seconds to ride stairs. 

The last lap I got a little nervous. On CX courses it’s really easy to judge how much time you are putting on someone, maintaining on someone, or losing on someone based on where you see them on an adjacent part of the course every lap. On the last lap Travis put an attack on Eric and started reeling me in. I had 30 seconds and then he was coming closer and closer. By the end of the lap it was only 10sec. 

With Saturdays win I was looking forward to some family time. My parents came into town for the race and Emily’s mom had an Airbnb near the venue that they were staying at. So my dad brought his pots and pans, sharp knives, and pa sourced foods to concoct a stew that warmed the bones after a chilly evening. 

We invited Eric and his crew over. Bruce came and jumped in the photo edit cave for a bit before joining in on the conversation. It was a good time. Then because it’s my dad’s birthday next week he baked himself a cake and we all ate it and sang happy birthday to him! 

Day 2

Becca: My start was better, Sunny’s wasn’t as good. Maybe it is because the prime was moved to lap 3, maybe she was feeling yesterday. Maybe everyone else’s was just better? She was in the lead but took an early slide-out that set her back. MUAHAHAHA VICTORY SHALL BE MINE! 

I was on the front from then on and didn’t look back. Arley was on my wheel up until that lap 3 prime, which I took then found myself with a good gap. I kept my head down and kept up a smooth and fast race. Everything was going flawlessly until the 2nd half of the 4th lap, and I flat. Rear wheel was completely flat, I must have hit a rough patch of pavement too hard, I know right where it happened. I was hopping roots through turns quite elegantly, but there was a section of abandoned pavement that was too long to hop and it was sort of a pick-your-way-gingerly type of thing. Well. I must have gone full Pumpkin Spice and hit the rear wheel. 

The announcers didn’t see the flat and said Sunny closed the gap. She caught me by the time I hit the pits. I rode that flat well, but I lost 16 seconds in that over quarter lap because of it. I pitted. Sunny got up to 20 seconds or so on me, and I saw my win go out the window, and I was just chasing the oblivion trying to keep the gap under 30 seconds for the win. Then, somehow, she was so close. SO CLOSE people were telling me three seconds. I WAS GOING TO WIN A BIKE RACE! I was so excited I hopped off my bike and threw it to the ground (I slid out in the loose downhill corner before the stairs. Same problem as the day before. Old habits die hard).

Okay, so the win was gone after that. But, I still had second and the series. Until I stood up and realized my boas on my left shoe were completely open, shoe was falling off and I had banged my rear derailleur and sent it into crash mode. I was stuck in my 11 tooth cog. I had to run up a slight hill because I couldn’t push the gear. I had to stop because my shoe was coming off. I bent over to tighten my boa and wouldn’t you know if I didn’t get passed. Crap. 3rd place. I realize I can still shift my front chainrings so I shift down into the little ring but I am still in my 11. Good thing I have been practicing for being overgeared my WHOLE FREAKING CAREER and was able to keep 3rd against a charging Arley. And. As soon as I cross the line. I hear it. I have kept the series win by 4 seconds. $1000 by 4 seconds. 

I am happy with the series win and reflecting back, it is awesome to keep hearing from all of the spectators what a show Sunny and I put on. So really, we did our jobs. I did my job. Sometimes a loss in a hard-fought battle is more noble than a win that is taken so easily (cough cough Kerry). The fitness is coming around. The confidence is high. The handling is every improving. The pieces are coming together. The podiums will continue, the wins will come, and the spectators will be forever impressed by the performances we women put on out there.

Kerry: The course was basically in reverse on day 2. The biggest change was the wind! It was howling all night. In fact, Kerm and I even took about five tents down at the venue so people would show up and find their $1000 10X10’s in a state of “pick up sticks”.

The course was even more hard packed than yesterday so I strapped on the files, pulled on my Hawaiian Jakroo warm-up pants, Timmermade puffy, and headed to the line. 

There was another Rapha prime, but on lap three. So after getting the holeshot I settled into the group. Eric Thompson, Travis Livermon, and I quickly established the front three and on lap two I sent an attack to secure that $$. I came across the line another $250 richer and also 15 seconds richer. So again I kept at it. 

Due to the wind, my gap continued to grow. Eric and Travis didn’t want to take up the pace making and waste energy out in the wind. They were too evenly matched. So I set a new goal, don’t get off the bike!

The approach on the stairs was much straighter and the stairs were actually not any slower to ride or run. Combining that with hopping the barriers and I was set to never let my feet touch the ground. Remember the game “the ground is lava” when you were a kid… Yeah.

With the crowd behind me I was having fun. I came across the line for the 3rd DCCX weekend sweep in a row and the Parkway CX trophy. Combine those wins with the Rapha primes and I was $2340 richer! That is better than sweeping a C1 weekend. Sorry I am not sorry you other suckers didn’t show up. Becca and I don’t mind. 

Stay tuned, the next weekends include Cinci, Pan Ams, NoHo, and Supercross.

 

Charm City CX: Two Podiums, Two Race Reports (Part 1- Rebecca Fahringer)

Last year was my first Charm City experience and I really enjoyed it. I loved that it was a power course with slogging climbs and swooping turns, and the crowd was energetic and very interactive. It was actually the race where the most people approached me with hellos, equipment questions, and congratulations. I am pleased to report that it was an overall positive vibe that was 100% replicated this year!

 

The weather was slated to be cooler than last year, but no rain was in the forecast. Despite this, there was quite a bit of mud on the course due to some broken water lines. The muddiest sections were along the pits before the (larger-than-last-year’s) flyover, down by a road crossing, and then coming back up to that road onto the finish straight. Despite these sections, the rest of the course was nice and tacky.

Course pre-ride on Friday we really thought it was going to be a file-tread weekend. The grass had been cut, everywhere but between the tape, and the wet spots were just wet grass. Some corners were slick, but we expected once the grass torn up the dirt would provide traction. Watching social media from the host house on Saturday morning, we were seeing the muddy bikes but were still skeptical. Showing up to the venue we saw the lines for the power washer were long, and after a lap of our own, we found out why. Those small sections of wet grass or little running streams turned into huge mud bogs. 

It was decided to be an All Terrane day to help for some grip on the grass off-camber turns and when dropping into and climbing out of the mud bogs. There was a little thought and discussion as to whether or not the mud near the pits was rideable or if it should be a run, but most decided to just run in. 

I had a front row call-up. The biggest contenders were Maghalie Rochette, Kaitie Keough, Ellen Nobel, Caroline Mani, and Sunny Gilbert. Lucky for me, Caroline was sick. Unlucky for me, all of the other women are very fit right now. The start for the race is a long climb that ends will a nice steep punch. I settled into the top five to seven wheels, knowing I wanted to be further up but telling myself to be patient and not make any stupid moves to crash anyone out.

Bad decision. 4th wheel was a rider that turned at about half of the speed of the front 3 and a huge gap opened up. I saw it happening but I couldn’t pass her and the other rider behind her in the turns without risking a crash. Then, I went to pass on a straight section before the mud bog, a risk I was willing to take, until Jamey Driscoll who was standing beside the course delivers this PSA “they moved the course! Course change! Stay right!”. Apparently, while we were on the line, the course got restaked, making us take a turn in to the mud. No worries, us women are used to completely new lines due to new course designs that aren’t discovered until our first lap.

I again wait to pass. I can’t remember when the pass happened, but there was a 13-second gap between me and 3rd at the end of the first lap. Another 6 seconds back to the blocking rider. That was a huge deficit. I was never within a direct sightline of Kaitie Keough, who was in 3rd dangling between myself and the front 2 riders.

Everyone was saying that I was closing the gap, but I never seemed to make ground on her, and the most I could do was try to stay away from Sunny Gilbert who was dangling a few seconds behind me. I succeeded and finished the race in a solid 4th, which was one spot better than last year.

Going into Day 2, once again following a win by Kerry, I was determined to make a podium – I knew I was capable. I took Kerry’s burnt pancakes as a sign from above that I could do it. The course was very similar, but the mud pits grew even larger yet. I didn’t make any equipment changes, except adding a bottle into my jersey pocket and an ice sock tucked behind my neck. My start was fantastic. I got my pedals, remembered to shift and pedal, and ended up 4th wheel entering the course. I made a pass to punch it into 3rd, and there was only a small gap up to 1st and 2nd.

I was STOKED! YES! I CAN RIDE IN THE FRONT GROUP!! I was so excited, that I rolled in the mud. Heading up into the pavement I was too stiff when I hit the ruts exiting a mud pit and just fell over. I quickly grabbed my bike, started running, and hopped on. I looked down and saw everything seemed to be in order with my drivetrain, so I got out of the pedals to catch Sunny who managed to pass me despite trying to take up a lot of space when I fell as to not get passed. I could not quite catch her wheel. I spent most of the race dangling in 4th.

I settled for the spot, saying at least I am tying with yesterday. But I looked back and saw Georgia Gould charging hard behind me, closing the gap. Crap. Georgia is retired. I would need a really good excuse to get beat by her (she is an incredible athlete and honestly totally capable of winning the freaking bike race, but, this is my only job). I used the motivation of not losing 4th to see I was actually closing in on Sunny. When I heard she was within 10 seconds I decided I could do it, and I was willing to lose 4th place trying.

I caught up and picked my moment to pass. Once I did, I could tell she was cracked, but I worked hard keeping the pace high and keeping my head in the game. And I crossed the line with my first UCI podium of the season – finally. But what is more, is that I crossed the line without any regrets and only one “what if”. “what if I didn’t crash on the first lap?” But we don’t ever race in a perfect world and rarely do cyclocrossers get clean races. I was stoked. I am going to keep this mental motivation through my week of race and training into DCCX, hoping that Cycleution Coaching helps me get in tip-top condition for the Pan-American Championships later this month. A podium there would mean the world to me! Or at least the continent.

Charm City CX: Two Podiums, Two Race Reports (Part 2- Kerry Werner)

All I could think about all week was the top step. With Stephen on the mend, the podium was wide open and I was hungry. I wanted my first C1 win but I also didn’t want to overthink it. Luckily, I was around family all week so it wasn’t a heavy topic occupying my mind. 

The drive was only 2hrs from my parents’ house in southeastern pa to the Baltimore Airport, where Becca was flying in. With relatively no traffic the drive was smooth and we were at the course by 1pm, which was way too early. The mega fly over was still being built and the course wasn’t fully taped yet. So we occupied our time by swatting mosquitoes and organizing equipment, which was more or less just thrown in the trailer after Jingle Cross. 

After a pre ride we were off to the host house. A quick stop at Traders Joe’s, for pancake mix, then chipotle for dinner and we were all set. Katey and Joe (owners of Joe’s Bike Shop) were nice enough to put us up over the weekend and dealt with us bringing loads of stuff into their house, using their washer and dryer, and making stacks of pancakes every morning. 

I was prepping to leave for the venue on Saturday morning when Bruce Buckley sent me a photo of someone’s bike…

What I thought was going to be a file day actually turned out to be a real mudder. There was some rain earlier in the week in Baltimore, which the ground was holding, with an iron fist. Overcast skies were preventing anything from drying out and after the morning amateur racers went off the ribbon of dirt around the course was continuing to be slick. There were also two mud bogs on course. Apparently, there was a broken drainage pipe under the ground just past pit one and another broken drainage pipe towards the end of the lap. The first was being churned up and thickening all morning leading riders to run from the exit of pit 1 all the way to and up and over the fly over. The second mud pit was providing us with standing water, half way to hub deep, that you couldn’t see the bottom of but was relatively straight forward. The ground after the standing water was the most tricky part as we were tracking water past the puddle, which was turning the ground to peanut butter and kept you searching for traction on the short little climb after the puddle.

These were perfect conditions for me. I was looking forward to having a few corners slick and my legs were feeling ready to twist the throttle.

I threw on the Maxxis All Terrane’s, at 22 rear- 20 front, and headed to the line wearing the #1 number. 

I really wanted the hole shot so I could push on the early corners and see if people were struggling early on in the slick conditions. I got it and kept the pace high. 

After the first lap I pulled off and Curtis, Bolo, Van den Ham, and Driscoll were there, but the cracks were forming behind us. 

We tested each other all race but could not make it happen. With 2 to go we were still all together though the hurt was on everyone’s faces. Bolo got to the front and pushed a big effort, riding through the mud pit into the flyover that everyone else was running. He immediately opened up a 5 bike length gap and I knew that was the move. Up and over the fly over then I really had to work on the other side to catch him. Luckily, there were turny bits and not tons of pedaling. 

I latched on and went up the mansion climb with him. Then I slotted in front of him just as we went over the top. The turns after the top were fast and awkward, I pushed the pace and opened a small gap. One of those gaps that isn’t big enough to look back at, you just know it’s there from other people yelling at you and you hope to god you can just pour on a little more to make it more substantial. 

That’s what I did but I may have only gained another second or two. We hit the last corner maybe 3-4seconds apart but with that gap into the finish straight there was no way to contest the sprint. 

Holy crap! First C1 win! And I had to work like crazy for it, which made me even more excited about the race. 

It made it all the more special that my mom and dad were there, my new wife, and in laws. While Baltimore isn’t home for me, a lot of the spectators know of me from racing in the area when I was younger and they sure made me feel at home. Gracias!

We all grabbed some food at R. House Sunday night then packed it in for the night. 

Sunday was the same deal. We showed up at the venue around 12. Then got out for pre ride at 1:30. The track was tacky and dry in spots. The sun was out baking the ground and turning those slick corners into hard packed speed boosters. 

The files were perfect, Maxxis Speed Terrane, except for the mud bog before the sand pit, the one with a slight uphill after the exit. Riding through it was fine but trying to get back up to speed after it was a struggle. The lack of knobs on the top were not finding traction in the slick peanut butter. 

Taking that into account I figured it wouldn’t really matter. If the tires were only bad on that one spot it would probably not be an issue. I figured I could minimize the damage and the lack of tread would help me on the rest of the course. As it turns out, I was sadly mistaken.

The gun went off and Tobin had a rocket start. I slotted in behind him for the first half a lap or more. It became apparent on lap one that I didn’t have the best tires in that mud bog. But oh lord the files were so money everywhere else. 

I was getting gapped by 2-3 seconds every lap on the short climb after the mud bog but when I would lead into it I could keep everyone behind me and it wasn’t an issue. 

The same group stayed together for the first half of the race. Then MVdH came off, then Bolo, and it was Curtis and I. Then Curtis made a mistake and I was solo off the front with 2 laps to go. I had a solid 5 seconds on Curtis and Jamey, who latched on. 

I held the gap but Jamey bridged on the mud bog that I was struggling on. Then with 1 to go Jamey got to the front and started throwing hay makers. I was on the limit trying to hold his wheel. He would gap me, then I would close it, then he would gap me and I would close it. 

I hesitated for a split second and missed an opportunity to get in front before the mud bog and that was the end of the race. He opened up a 2-3 second gap coming out of it and there was no time and not enough left in the tank to close it. I sent a hail mary over the planter, jumping in and out trying to make up some time, but it had been a wash. I was gassed and didn’t jump the exit fast enough to make up ground. 

We hit the last corner and he still had 2 bike lengths on me. I don’t think I could have sprinted him with that gap, but then I slipped my rear wheel on the entrance to the pavement. I rolled it in for second.

That one hurt, not just physically but mentally. I wanted the sweep and felt like I had the legs to do it but one too many efforts to cover ground from my tire choice left me with a match or two short at the end of the race. 

 

I guess that is the silver lining though. I had the legs and felt good all weekend. It is also cool that the racing is so tight. Both Saturday and Sunday weren’t decided until the last lap and we weren’t group racing. We were trying to kill each other all race. It’s cool to see that on a given day 4-5 guys could come out on top. 

Charm city is the first two races of a 4 race series called the Parkway CX Trophy Series. The promoters of Charm City and DCCX have teamed up to make a series, based on time. With the win Saturday and 2nd on Sunday I have a lead in the overall, hence the white jersey in Sunday’s pictures. 

There is a grand up for prize money for the overall win. So after taking the next weekend off all focus will be on hitting DCCX and holding on to that. I have managed to sweep DCCX the last 2 years so I am hoping to keep the streak alive. 

 

Christmas Cross in September: Jingle Cross and UCI Cyclocross World Cup Round #2

After the Waterloo world cup, Rebecca and I headed three hours south-west to Iowa City. We had host housing just a 10min bike ride from the venue. In fact, you could see the lights of the Johnson County Fairgrounds just over the hill from the house. 

Even though there was racing on Friday night Rebecca and I skipped it to focus on Saturday’s world cup. That meant we could treat the weekend like a normal weekend, i.e. openers Friday, race Saturday and Sunday. The added bonus was that we got to watch the racing on Friday night. We only stuck around for the Women’s race though because they didn’t start until 7:45 and the Men went at 9! Have fun getting to sleep before 2am after racing that late.

Becca: Pre-riding on Saturday I had everything dialed, from tires to line choices. I even decided that I was going to play it by ear if I was going to ride or run the last two turns of the descent of Krumpit, but I was nailing the turns at the top.

Kerry: I got to go first! I always like when they switch up the order because I like to watch the women’s race. It’s always cool to check out a race after you have emptied the tank yourself. It’s also a bummer when you see other people have already raced and you are just getting warmed up on the trainer. Though I have gotten used to it. 

I was poised for a good start on Saturday but only managed to hold my position. I came through the first lap in 20th or so then no matter how hard I tried I stayed there. For some reason, I was missing the ability to go into the red. I couldn’t wind up into that extra gear when small gaps were closing in front of me. I only packed the diesel motor and had one speed. 

Granted, it wasn’t a terrible speed but I missed out on a group early for 17th then the last three laps Gage Hecht was a stone’s throw in front of me, down to three seconds at times. For some reason, I just couldn’t close it. A part of me thinks it was my subconscious holding me back saying, “Woah buddy, easy partner, don’t dig too deep. You’ll be too gassed to hit this super technical section.”

So I ended up 22nd. That’s two world cups in a row I landed 22nd. It isn’t a terrible race but I felt like I was capable of better. I had gotten 19th last year and felt like a top 20 was in my grasp but was ultimately going for 15th. 

Anyway, I grabbed some hot chocolate and a few of my friend’s mom’s famous cookies and watched the women’s race.

Becca: My start was great, until halfway down the start straight the fencing forces a zig-zag and the riders ahead of me are braking so heavily that they lock up their wheels. I sit up. Losing ground despite no crashes happening, I charge forward, into the mud pit before the first turn. A crash. I go wide. Luckily I go clear but I have lost more spots (I am only ahead of those who hit the deck it seems). I pass when I can and am patient when I cant. Then we get to the descent of Mt. Krumpit, and people are dismounting before the tricky turns, forcing me to as well. As I run I figure out why – the rain has turned the grass and clay-rich soil to ice. It is an awkward scramble to the bottom. I keep passing groups until I find myself into the teens – right where I want to be. Another run-up and a quick mount with our feet full of mud. A rider goes down on an off-camber and I can do nothing but lay the bike down and slide into them instead of running them over (was that an option? Not worth the risk of hurting another person or myself if you ask me). Losing a few spots. The next lap shows me picking off even more riders, but also losing a few spots in the tougher climbs. I just couldn’t run any faster.

That same off-camber that I laid it down on in lap one has a large sweeping turn afterward, and in lap 2 I decided to check my speed right as I entered, and it sent me into a solid 200-foot slide, dropping my bike and sliding on my hip. I actually slid about as fast as I would have ridden, so no time was lost. But when I picked my bike up, I noticed my chain had dropped. Remembering last race, I was very careful at trying to get it back on and checking the full drivetrain, making sure I wasn’t going to make matters worse by riding. Maybe my check was too thorough because I could have pedaled it back on but I had already lost precious spots and time. I chased hard and caught a few riders, but we were only racing for 4 laps so I didn’t have much time left.

Despite the short race (40 minutes for the winner), I was so cracked by the last lap that I was making sloppy mistakes on the slick runs, and for every spot I gained I lost 2 to riders who were more careful. But that is the toll a slick course can take – these conditions require more than skill, but also patience. I crossed the line in 21st. Again not what I was hoping for, but at least beating Kerry.

It was back to the normal routine, Women racing prior to the Men on Sunday…

Becca: The result left me hungry in the C1, but also exhausted. The officials didn’t have the UCI course set up when I went out to preride, and I didn’t have the gumption to go out a second time when half of the course was a walk through thick mud. Kerry gave me the intel on the course changes and I felt confident in my choice to rest the legs until race time.

I had another acceptable start and rode an aggressive 1st lap, making great passes and even blocking when I could. Luckily we were only going up Mt. Krumpit once per lap, but unfortunately, it was the much harder way up – the run. The top of the run was where they changed the course for the C1, adding a few turns before routing us to the descent. I was prepared for a slight incline at the top when we remounted, but because I didn’t preride I didn’t realize it was a “be in your easiest gear” type of incline.

I hop on, and even midway through my cassette and in my little ring I stand on the pedal and go nowhere. Not your typical hero-type, I get off the bike and air-shift into my 30 tooth cog before hopping back on and spinning (lol jk slogging heavily) to the top. I lost a lot of spots doing that, but it was the only way. I charged hard, and eventually found myself in 7th, clawing towards 6th. But for every inch I gained on the flats and downhills, I lost 2 in the steep run-up to the tall and long-legged Sunny Gilbert. I couldn’t close the gap. And my legs were so shot from the day prior that I lost the battle for 7th to Clara Honsinger and ended up 8th. I know I left it all out there on Sunday, so I am happy with the ride despite some very rookie mistakes (like not pre-riding!).

Kerry: I have adopted a motto: Sunday’s are for sending! It stems from the idea behind a usual weekend in the US where there is a C1 Saturday race and C2 Sunday. So C1’s I play the game and do everything possible to go for the win. Sit in, play it smart, really watch the other dudes, find flaws, etc. Those races there are more points up for grabs and more money. Then Sunday, I have decided just to go for it. Send attacks really focus on pushing the pace instead of sitting in and saving myself for the win. We only get to count our 8 best C2 race’s points towards our overall UCI point total. I am hoping I can get enough good C2’s that even if I botch a few because of this method I’ll still be ok. 

So with a front row call up I decided to go for the holeshot, then settle in and see what happens. The top guys from the world cup decided to sit out Sunday’s race but there were still a few guys there to keep things spicy. 

I damn near hole shotted and then kept going. I lead some on the first lap, tried to breathe and tell myself to just ride smooth. The running up Mt. Krumpit was killing me. I managed the first half of the race and was in the running for the final podium spot until the wheels started coming off. I couldn’t hold the Euro’s pace up the 1min climb and I started making small mistakes that caused gaps to form with 3 laps to go. From there I put my head down and brought it in for 6th. 

I was truly pumped with the ride. The conditions were just right and racing with those guys for the first half of the race was a real learning experience and confidence booster. Those guys, Boroè , Thijs Aerts, Jim Aernouts, Wouters, and Cleppe are top 20 and top 10 world cup racers. So I was happy to hang with them as long as I did. Baby steps. 

Becca: Charm City in Baltimore is up next – and I am pumped. Last year was my first time to the race, and this year I am excited to see how I stack up.

Waterloo Cyclocross World Cup Round #1

Here is the play by play taken from both Kerry and Rebecca’s point of view (POV)

Kerry: After arriving Thursday at noon Becca picked me up at the Madison airport (the only flight I will take this year besides heading overseas) and we headed straight for the course. Mark and Kerm were already there and had the tents set up. Mark had his afternoon cut out for him as he was going over my handy work.

I had to build up Becca’s bikes the previous week so that they would be close to ready to ride when we arrived on Thursday afternoon. Rather then her showing up to blank frames that needed completely outfitted. 

I promptly found my dude, Eric Thompson, and we headed out on the road for some efforts because the course wasn’t set up completely and there were too many people burning in lines. 

All weekend was to be spent at the Dettmer’s. I met Connie and Peter two years ago after getting set up with the from the race director. This was the 3rd year of them hosting me and as always, I was excited. They are awesome people, Connie knows how to make a mean pumpkin pie and Peter can crank out an Old Fashioned faster then most mechanics can swap a wheel in the pit.

Friday morning was race morning. It wasn’t a huge priority for me. I was looking forward to it to test my self against the majority of Sunday’s World Cup field. However, it proved to be more of an opener. I hadn’t gone hard since last Saturday’s Nittany CX, then I spent the week going easy to recover from training and racing. So my engine was running a little cool.

I finished up 18th without too much concern. I felt like I was riding sluggishly so I focused on keeping a cool head for Saturday’s rest day. Besides Connie and Peter had to show us the hot spot in Sun Prairie to have pizza, it was worth it!

Becca: I was so close to being ready for the world cup in Iowa. So close. And then, I took a day off the Monday before and my body responded with a seized up lower back. Is it because my racing age is 30? Am I secretly a Greek Goddess suffering from hubris? Or maybe it is the world’s way of saying that I am wasting my time doing yoga and stretching because I am going to end up in pain anyway. For whatever reason, it happened. Despite not doing any efforts leading up to the race, it was still stiff and painful for the C2 on Friday. I didn’t want to start, but I was in such a funk: hurt back, bad attitude, that I decided I had to race just to clear my system. Unable to do any real “opening” efforts before the race, I started slow, and my legs felt like they were full of wet cotton until nearly my last half lap.

My result and performance on Friday did not phase me, because a lot of us did not approach it as a race, but instead, an opener for the big show on Sunday. I was still optimistic. But the car ride back to our host house on Friday even proved to be too much, and I was hardly able to pull my socks on before dinner. I was devastated. But, with the help of a network of friends, google, and some understanding people, I got some last-minute appointments for a chiropractor and acupuncture on Saturday. Between those treatments and some easy laps where I focused on some skills, I was feeling prepared for Sunday’s world cup.

Kerry: Saturday we headed to the course to check out the world cup track. All the “pro only” lines were added in for a specific UCI only pre ride time. The new lines were an off camber, a run up, and one punchy climb. It added some spice to a otherwise pretty mellow track. 

The temps were steadily staying in the high 60’s and low 70’s, which was a welcomed change from last year’s 90ºF and humidity. The forecast was showing no ice socks for Sunday’s showdown. 

During Sunday morning’s warm up I was feeling much better and looking forward to heading into battle. I stole the last spot on the 2nd row and used it to my advantage. 

I had a great start, slotting into 15th. Just taking notes…

I stayed there for the first 3 laps, but that effort caught up with me. I started to fade through the middle of the race. I went back to 16, then 19 and back to 24 before finding my group battling for a 21st place spot. 

I kept trying to recover and maintain contact with the group. I came around the last two laps and was able to finish 22nd.

I was unbelievably appreciative of the crowds. They carried me through the middle of that race and kept me in it mentally when I was on the edge of shutting down. 

While sending it for the first couple of laps lead me to fade, it had to be done. You aren’t going to make time up on the guys at the front of the race. So I aimed to put work in early, establish a good start, and hold on for dear life. My hope is that if I can manage to do that enough, eventually I will fight off the fade and stay up there. If you throw yourself at the wall enough times, eventually something will stick!

Becca: Once again, on Sunday, the schedule was flipped and women were racing after the men. We had so much course time available I wasn’t even sure what to do with myself! It was great to be able to see Kerry and the other pros take some good lines in prep for my own choices. For many, it was a file tread day, but I chose Maxxis All Terranes for some bite in the steep off-cambers and in the event there was some dust or debris build-up through the turns. I was happy with my choice because the course was a mix of smooth pavement-like dirt ruts and loose gravel-like soil. Traction was not a big worry.

I was happy with my start – I didn’t fight too hard but I sure didn’t go backwards like I could have. The first lap was the typical World Cup fight, and it took well into the lap before anyone even started to settle. I made a few good passes and smart decisions, gaining me 5 spots at a time. I was climbing up.

As I worked to pick off groups and riders, I came up behind a group going into the steep off-camber. I went for the same pass I made in lap 1, but what I did not anticipate was Helen Wyman sticking her leg out (also known as dog pissing). I could have just hit the leg, but my instincts made me grab brake, and I immediately slid out on the steep slope. CRAP! I scrambled to the bottom and around the corner and up. I heard the announcer say I was down. My chain had dropped between my cassette and my wheel. I pull it out. I go to get on. It drops again. UGH I forget to shift to move my derailleur away from the wheel. When I dig it out again I shift and see my cage is at way too steep and angle. Going to need to pit. Crap. But the race was away from me. The group I was chasing was lost with the initial mistake. More people passed me during my chain re-set. And even more passed when I had to take a second pass. 

I am frustrated that I went down. I don’t regret the pass, but I do regret how I reacted. The crash sucks, obviously, but what sucked more was that I wasn’t calm enough to go through all of the steps to fix it. I could have made up more spots if I would have shifted up the first time.

I was able to chase down only a few people after that incident. The gaps ahead of me were so big, they weren’t even within sight, and it was hard to channel the fight to go and get them. The only thing driving me was knowing that I only had 2 more people pass to tie Kerry on the day – but somehow even that didn’t push me into the pain cave. 

I ended up 24th, which is the same place I ended up last year. Perhaps this means I am geared up for another 15th at Jingle Cross, but hopefully I’ll end up a bit higher!

Kerry: After the race, I cleaned up and got to watch the women’s race, which was a nice role change. The Trek CX Cup and World Cup weekend is a great opportunity for women in the sport. The organizers are leaders in racing equality by being the only world cup to offer equal world cup pay. The women’s racing has been proven to put on one hell of a show, based on last season, which was cemented after this past weekend’s battle between Ellen Noble and Marianne Vos.

After the racing, we packed up the trailer and headed to Sun Prairie for old fashioneds and pumpkin pie at Peter and Connie’s. What a great way to end a great weekend and kick off the first few days of fall. 

The stoke is high heading into Iowa and I am looking forward to flexing on Mt Krumpit and a course I feel suits me more so then the Trek track. Onwards and upwards! Until then the Super Jakes need a brake… 

 

Kerry’s Vlog 17: One of the best yet! Give it a watch!

The Road To The World Cups

After a satisfactory weekend last weekend in Rochester I was really motivated to put some solid training in this week. I am not a guy who likes to rest on my laurels. Racing is good and really gets the high end revved up, however, by racing, resting, and repeating weekend after weekend it is often hard to build fitness and work on specific things. So Jim Lehman, my coach, and I decided that this week and into Nittany Lion Cyclocross this weekend was going to be part of a training block. The race was only 45min from my house and my family was pumped to watch me race close to home so I had to include it.

I put two good days of intervals in on Wednesday and Thursday, some longer, over-under intervals to be exact (this is where you spend some time at threshold then some time over then back down then back up and you do this throughout the whole interval). I was feeling good, but those days were hard so I had my doubts going into the weekend.

When I showed up to the race on Saturday I discovered that I was leading the ProCX series, which really isn’t a series because it is literally every race on the calendar, but I guess it is still something. This didn’t really add any pressure to my situation, because the “series” was never part of my season goals, but oddly enough it made me want to win just that little bit more and gave me a new focus for the day. Full “series” calendar and standings found here.

After some course laps I was pretty pumped because it wasn’t going to be a dry, dusty, bumpy, crit race like it had been in years past. We had a decent amount of rain off and on all week and the sun never really came out so the ground was saturated. The amateur races earlier in the day cleared off all the grass and thus the afternoon races were left with a nice line of moist, sometimes slick, sometimes velcro, dirt/mud. 

I decided to run an aggressive tire up front (Maxxis All Terrane) after Alex Ryan got in my head, so I could really push in the corners. Then I ran a pretty mellow mid in the back (Maxxis Raze) because there was some suction like sections on the course and I didn’t want to have all the resistance a double All Terrane set up would have brought. 

I had a good start and led the whole first lap. Right at the end of the lap, there was an off camber that was at a low point in a field so it was extremely muddy. It was possible to ride but challenging and even harder when you came into it gassed or under pressure. I knew that would be a crucial spot later in the race if you were trying to shake an opponent or trying to maintain a gap. 

A group of three of us separated ourselves from the field by the end of the first lap. We all took turns on lap two then I decided to put pressure on Curits White and Matthieu Bolo (a Frenchman) in the corners. I was feeling really confident in the the turny bits and was hoping a little pressure would start to open up some cracks so that the race wouldn’t come down to a sprint. 

It worked and I gapped the two. Curtis was swinging a leg over his CX bike for the first time this season and it showed he was a little rusty. Normally, a move like what I pulled wouldn’t have worked like it did. 

 

I pulled away for a lap until Matthieu started to pull up to me. I kept making mistakes in the muddy off camber at the end of the lap. I was struggling to find the line then when I found it I was struggling to execute. Regardless, Matthieu caught me and I was pleased. I didn’t want to do the last 6 laps of the race off the front by myself.

We worked together to widen our gap and I started to pick apart his riding style. He was strong physically but I had him on the skill part. So again, with 2  laps to go, I put pressure on and a gap opened up. I kept it on through the first half of the lap and had 7 seconds. With him not being able to see my lines in the corners I exploited his weakness and expanded on my gap at the start of the last lap, then kept the pressure on to finish the race.

I was pumped on the W, especially after training hard through the week. It was great to win at home and put on a show for my family too. Sherman was pumped with his first UCI podium top step appearance too.

It was Emily’s birthday on Friday so we all went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house after the race to have cake and celebrate. A surprising number of my friends showed up to race or cheer on Emily and I so we had quite the crew over for the post-race party. It was a great ending to a good day.

I had planned all along to not race Sunday. This is the third weekend of the race season and the world cups are on the horizon. I wanted to get the Saturday effort in as a high-intensity workout without having the mental strain of gearing up for a workout. However, but doing both days on top of the training I did earlier in the week could have dug a hole I may not have been able to climb out of before next weekend’s Waterloo World Cup. 

So I opted for a nice endurance ride from my house to the race, which was awesome. I have done similar rides before, but usually around Thanksgiving time as we usually do Thanksgiving at my, aforementioned, aunt and uncle’s house. However, getting to do the ride in the sunny warm air of September rather than the frigid, crisp, often wet air of late November, was a treat. 

All back roads, farm roads, little cars on a Sunday morning. It was just what I needed after being focused for the last couple days. I listened to some good tunes and just pedaled. I rarely looked at my GPS unit for anything other than turn by turn directions, it was choice.

I got to the race in time to watch Em crush and take pictures, which I wish I could do more of. Photography is hard and watching Bruce Buckley trod around course, profusely sweating, hauling 20-30lbs of camera gear, really put that into perspective. Not to mention the difficulty in framing shots, getting from one side of the course to another, and shooting all the unique sections. Bruce said he lays out a logistics plan on paper so he can know with certainty how he can get from a to b to c and back to a. There is more to it then you think.

The focus this week is rest and then get opened up. I leave Thursday for Madison, WI. Rebecca will meet me there and then we will dominate Waterloo. Rebecca will finally be on board her new Super Jakes and thus the final pieces of the Kona- Maxxis- Shimano CX team are complete. 

All race photos Bruce Buckley @bruce_buckley

Bike Racing In The Land Of Maple Syrup

With CX season coming into view on the horizon Kerry thought it would be good prep to fit one last MTB race in before it’s all curly bars and skinnier tires. So he headed north, with his wife of course, and didn’t stop until he hit Vermont, home of the legendary North East Kingdom Trails and The VT3 Bike Race.

“After spending some time in BC and Washington state this summer I had encountered quite a bit of the lush green, coveted single track, big rock rolls, and dense forest the PNW was known for. It was cool to see that those kinds of trails exist on the east coast. The VT3 Bike Race claims to be “modeled after races like BC Bike Race”, which I found to be true. The race took us to a few different areas, which offered unique but awesome trails. From maple tapped forests to an enduro-specific mountain and finally fast, flowy berm-riddled woods. ”

 

Arriving in VT on Thursday he quickly settled in with the guys at Bicycle Express, a Kona dealer in Waterbury, VT. They took him out on the backyard trails for an evening spin to give Kerry a little taste of what was to come. Thus, the fire was lit.

The racing structure was this: Friday night TT, Saturday 24 mile xc race, Sunday 20 mile XC race. Kerry wasted no time in setting the pace high. He came out on top Friday night but only by a second with a local ripper, Cooper Willsey, hot on his tail.

Saturday’s course had a good bit of climbing and to give himself some breathing room going into Sunday Kerry tried to push the pace and create some separation on the hills but could only muster 22 seconds more on Coop.

Sunday, being flat and fast came down to a sprint finish. Cooper had pushed hard all race trying to lose Kerry on the tight, fast sweeping, single track, putting Kerry on the limit more than once. However, it wasn’t quite enough and the finish was decided by less than 1 bike length.

You can catch his vlog below to see what happened off the bike. He and his fellow racers spent their downtime hanging at the well known Craftsbury Outdoor Center, an Olympic ski and rowing development center.

From here out it is all about CX as the first race of the season kicks off the first weekend of September and Kerry has high hopes and big goals for the months to come.

Werner Hits US Mountain Bike Nationals

Three days after BC Bike Race ended Kerry took a “red eye” home to the east coast. He spent Tuesday being a zombie. On Wednesday he drove 5hrs to Snowshoe, WV for the 2018 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Nationals.

He spent the week watching sunsets from high up on Snowshoe Mountain, scoping out the course, and trying to catch up on sleep.

 

You can watch how it all played out on Kerry’s Vlog!

Next up for Kery is a cyclocross camp. He will be hosting a skills camp in the mountains of western NC to help those who are aware that #crossiscoming and want to get a jump on sharpening the axes!

Kona Adventure Team Pedal Packs to Whiskey 50

The Kona Adventure Team congregated in Phoenix on Tuesday night. When the sun came up on Wednesday morning they loaded up their HEI HEI‘s with the bike packing bags and headed north west to Prescott, AZ.

The goal was to get out of the PHX sprawl ASAP and take the Black Canyon Trail north to Prescott. The unrelenting heat took a toll on the boys and they had to alter their plans from mostly single track to mostly gravel roads. With no water out in the desert, the choice was an obvious one, if they wanted to survive.

Kerry Werner will be posting up a 3 Vlog series on this mission. The first is up below…

The next two will be posted as the team navigates the Fat tire crit on Friday night, off day Saturday, racing the Whiskey 50 on Sunday, then riding back to PHX (on more single track) over the course of Monday- Tuesday. Laughs will be had and suffering will be felt, but it’s always more enjoyable amongst friends.

Pisgah Punishment: 5 Days of the Pisgah Stage Race

This is year 4 for me and there is an obvious reason why I keep coming back. At least It’s obvious to me and, I am sure, all the others that take the plunge into the Rhododendron covered, bench cut, old school woods of Pisgah. Over the course of 5 days you get to ride the most iconic single track the Ranger District of Pisgah has to offer. You can do it at pace or you can tour it. You can stop for snacks or blow right past the aid stations looking for new PR’s. Either way, everyone has FUN and this year was no exception. 

We all congregated for stage 0 on Monday night. Dinner and packet pick-up was followed by an intro into the first stage, what was expected, and thus the initial injection of butterflies/nerves.

From years passed, I knew that stage 1 was the fastest. Having Spencer Paxson in town for the race last year saw a new course record of about 1:45 for 24.7 miles and 4130’ of climbing. The competition was a little deeper this year so I was expecting the pace to be pushed even harder.

Sure enough, by the time we hit the first single track selection the lead group had dwindled down to 5 riders and the gaps were already wide open. I didn’t give enough thought to my positioning into the single track and got stuck behind some bobbles and then held up on the descent. 

Tristan Cowie got away early, which had Travis Livermon, Tristan Uhl (TEX), and I chasing the rest of the day. 

After stage 1, It was obvious that Tristan C. and Trav were on another fitness level. Therefore, I pushed aside my hopes of GC glory and settled in for the task of maintenance. 

Stage 2 started much the same way. Trav was on a mission early and Tristan C. was forced to join in. In the wake, Tex, Stephano, and I were stuck playing our own game. Tex and I separated ourselves from Stephano on Squirrel Gap and kept the pace high in hopes of staying ahead of Stephano for the enduro section at the end of the stage. 

This is when I consciously decided to go for the Enduro overall. After a second day of watching Tristan and Trav ride away, I knew I wasn’t going to put a dent in their time gap so I shifted perspective and decided that getting pitted on the enduro sections was my best card to play. 

I managed to go into first in the enduro overall after stage 2 and was excited to push the pace over stage 3 and 4, as they are some of my favorite trails in the forest. 

Stage 3 is dubbed the queen stage. The most climbing and the most technical climbing throughout the race. Heart rates surged early, as we started uphill right off the line. We ascended Black Mountain, which was built for going downhill, not up… and hit Buckhorn to Club gap and into the enduro section of the day, Avery Creek. 

By this time the gaps were big enough to land an airplane in so there wasn’t much concern about getting held up on the enduro. Thus, it was throttle wide open and smiles from ear to ear. 

I got 1st on the stage and extended my lead in the enduro to 30 seconds over Tex. However, stage 3 wasn’t all peaches. I did lose time to Stephano, cutting the time gap from 4:20 to 2min between 3rd and 4th in overall. That’s the difference between one mistake!

I was dreading stage 4 from the start of the week… The climb up Laurel Mtn is a 50 min+ grunt, at pace. That meant I needed to come into that climb with a big buffer to hold off the climbers and hope for a clean run on the enduro, which dropped off the top of Laurel and turned into Pilot Mt trail.

Stephano pushed the pace from the gun and I was forced to follow. He gapped me some but I gritted my teeth and kept it manageable to the point where I was able to pass him just as we hit Squirrel Gap. 

I pushed the pace on the narrow single track opening up a gap and hit the gravel climb up to Laurel mtn seeing red and on a mission. 

The next 1:15 was a struggle but it passed soon enough, at least looking back on it. I crested the top and held on as my Hei Hei bounced down the chunkiest of the descents that Pisgah has to offer. 

The top of Pilot is comprised of big massive rock slabs with tight loose switchbacks. The trail opens up halfway through but the rocks become smaller and they seem to multiply like bacteria in a public bathroom. The speeds get higher and the arm pump becomes a real issue. By the bottom, my arms were the limiting factor. I struggled to pull up over some curb sized water bar obstacles but pushed on through to the finish. 

I missed out on the enduro stage win by 5 seconds to another Kona mate on a Process. Understandable, Kona’s are the bike of choice when trying to fight the signs and symptoms Pisgah punishment. 

Going into stage 5 I had 1 min on the Enduro overall and a solid gap to 4th in the GC overall. The theme for stage 5 was smooth sailing, which is easier said than done when Farlow Gap is looming in the near future. 

I held my own pace up the 20 min + climb to the Farlow descent. The boys at the front were on fire and I was trying not to blow up. The enduro section was at the end of the day so I needed to save some matches. T. Cowie, who had second in the enduro knew the section much better than I. A fewslip-upss could cost me the top step. The enduro was the longest of all the others at 22 min and the most pedally, more like a super d. (do ya’ll remember those?)

After ripping down Farlow and rejoining the lead group, we ran into a cheer squad handing out bacon feeds, which really elevated my mood. Then I missed a bacon feed, which was the biggest bummer of the whole week.

The lead group split apart on the climb up to the back of Bracken. T. Cowie and I sat back and enjoyed a nice party pace into the enduro while the others traded blows. 

I was gassed pushing my way through that final enduro. It was obvious as Tristan put 20 seconds into me closing down the gap from 1st to 2nd in the overall to only 45 seconds. 

Wiping sweat from my brow I was all smiles, but even the muscles to help me smile were sore. After 5 days of pushing the pace with my comrades, I was feeling it. I hadn’t done any efforts prior to the race except for training races. It’s crazy to look back and think that I just got back from the Euorpean CX racing scene 2 months ago. 

A few beers were had to celebrate… 

My little dude came into town with Emily to check out the end of the race and explore Pisgah Forest. He even helped me look good on the podium.

We capped off the night with s’mores and passing out before 10pm. Until, next year. Cheers!