Kerry Werner Keeps Momentum Rolling with Two Podium Finishes at Rochchester

The Rochester race weekend has been the traditional season opener for many years past. This year a few racers, Becca and Kerry included, decided to start with Roanoke last weekend (last weeks blog link) but that doesn’t change the nerves as this was the first C1. Thus, Rochesert was about gritting their teeth against some stiffer competition before heading into the world cups. 

Becca and Kerry drove to Rochester the Monday after Roanoke. They spent the week at a host house in Victor, who Kerry has developed a strong relationship with over the past three years racing at Rochester. Finally getting the race rigs together, check out Kerry’s bike check video.

Wednesday the gang got out to the local  YMCA camp to get some mid-week efforts in as well as scope out some different stations for Thursday nights CX clinic.

The YMCA camp hosts a weekly cyclocross clinic in the late summer/early fall thanks to some GVCC (Genesee Valley Cycling Club) enthusiasts. Becca and Kerry both participated as coaches alongside Tobin Ortenblad and Emily Shields. It’s all about giving back especially to the young guns. It is also inspiring as Kerry notes the CX community is strong in the Rochester area, “There are a ton of 10-16-year-olds in the Rochester area that are just so damn good! These kids can hop barriers, understand how to get on and off the bike, and are always looking for a challenge when on two wheels. It left us coaches wondering how good we would be if we had been exposed to the sport when we were that young.” 

There were more than just juniors at the clinic as well, once 120 people decided to show up. Becca describes it like this, “Imagine a sea of 100 cats in a laser light show and you had to keep track of 15 specific ones. Seriously, though excited, they were focused, attentive, and really seemed to want to learn and progress.”

Becca then ran a Friday clinic at the Rochester Cyclocross venue, walking people through the different obstacles on the course and giving them tips of the trade. Covering race day prep, confidence boosting, and a few deadlifts picking up fallen participants. Sometimes you gotta risk it for the biscuit. 

Saturday is race day and Becca kicked it off first for the Kona Maxxis Shimano CX Team. She didn’t have the most ideal start and after finding herself back in the high teens she remembered she had to pedal… harder. After regaining focus she clawed her way back into 4th but burned a few matches doing so and thus started to make some small mistakes that were, in turn, big mistakes at the end of the race, slipping in dusty corners, catching fences, bending rear hangers. 

Though disappointed by having a mechanical play a roll two weekends in a row Becca realizes, “I can take some time to remind myself that these mistakes are user-error and fixable, I’m still not set up with my season’s gear, I’m still working out my own rhythms, and that it is better that these things happen now rather than later.”

Kerry went next and had his head set on the whole shot. There was a super tight off camber section less than 1min from the start and being at the front could mean saving a match to maintain the gaps. 

He got the coveted whole shot, which set him up to stay in the front group of 4. They dangled off the front until about halfway through the race when they became solidly out ahead. Then the real games began. 

Kerry describes the race like this, “Lance Haidet was yo-yoing at this point and Gage was riding well but struggling a little in the tech bits. I knew Stephen was the guy to watch yet I managed to put myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Stephen put pressure on in the woods and Gage was gaped a bit. He was riding well though, and I figured we could bring Stephen back but after pulling through I looked back and saw Gage gapped. I couldn’t get to Stephen alone so it was three laps solo. I had just enough in the tank to hold off a rallying Tobin Ortenblad and Jack Kisseberth to hold on to 2nd.” 

Though it wasn’t a win it was definitely a good result for the first C1 of the season where UCI points are higher and so is the cash payout. 

On to Sunday, which was one classification lower. A C1 gives out UCI points 15 deep and has about 3X the payout of a C2. C2’s only give out UCI points to the top ten and because there are more of these throughout the season only a riders 8 best C2’s count towards UCI ranking. 

Becca was fired up for Sunday and it showed as she got off the line well and didn’t settle on the first lap. She rode the majority of the race in 4th and did a lot of work chasing the podium. She was more consistent throughout the race by running some sections that were touch and go in Saturday’s race. No mechanicals but sticking her nose in the wind for a good portion of the race meant a lack of fuel left in the tank towards the end of the race and she lost two spots falling back to 6.

Recollecting, Becca says, “It’s kind of funny how a bad start and a great start can lead me to the same place. You would think if I could start so far back and chase to 6th that I could start in 6th and chase to the win. But anyone who races bikes knows that is never the case. Maybe chasing so hard on Saturday burned me out for Sunday and is why I lost those 2 spots. Maybe that mental edge of wanting revenge allowed me to start well on Sunday. I am sure the two results are tied together. Clearly, I am riding at a level that is very consistent and repeatable for me, and despite what happens I am remembering skills and strengths to fight through.” 

Kerry didn’t have such good luck on the start. He pulled out of his right pedal off the line and slotted in around 10th. A few changes to the course lead to an even punchier race, which quickly dissolved into small groups. The front group was 4 again, Jeremy Power, Hyde, Hecht, and Werner. The lower category C2 meant there wasn’t as much on the line and it showed. There was no reservation in the front group as blow after blow was thrown. 

Kerry was gassed but settled into the back of the group, not where you want to be at the end of the race. Hecht clipped a pedal on the off camber with 2 to go and caused a separation that Kerry could not bring back as Powers and Hyde traded turns at the front. 

Reflecting, Kerry realizes his mistake. “Luckily, I was able to keep Gage on the back burner after his mistake. I knew I shouldn’t have been on the back but Gage was riding strong and I didn’t see him making a mistake. I was definitely feeling fatigued from Saturday’s effort but really wanted two podiums on the weekend. So it was head down and a focus on smooth rather than fast in the woods.”

The next 2 weeks will involve Kerry building up Becca’s new Kona Super Jakes with the sweet Shimano Dura Ace group sets – with those sweet Ultegra RX Di2 clutch rear derailleurs. Becca will be pushing the limits of her endurance and skills and then hitting the recovery hard leading into the world cups. 

She says, “Remember, the Trek UCI World Cup pays women equally, and that is just huge. So for this Kona woman, it would mean so much to be on top form and performing my best in order to respect everything about the cycling community and their support of me and everyone else out there chasing dreams, working hard, and pushing limits.”

Check out Kerry’s vlog for some great in race footage (Thank you Cory Kuhns!) and some behind the scenes hoverboarding, pancake making, and donut eating!