Kerry Werner’s first Euro CX race didn’t quite go according to plan. The conditions in Fiuggi, Italy were crazy slick and took out a lot of people! Expect a regular update from Kerry here on the Cog as he heads to CX Worlds and beyond.
The travel was smooth. CLT-IAD. IAD-Munich (a couple of Lunestas later). Munich-Rome! We met Rebecca and we were off to the mountains of Fiuggi.
***Want hair like this? Tips soon to come. Just waiting for McTubbin so you can get all the knowledge and look lit like me!****
We spent the first night walking from one closed ristorante (pizzeria) to another. Finally we found a lit neon sign in a back alley, which proved fruitful, or rather pizzaful. Then Gelato… Because when in Rome, right?!
Our Airbnb was great! Spacious, warm, no carpet, and plenty of room for lots of luggage.
We got to get out on course in Fiuggi Saturday, which was interesting. The course was set in a park at the base of a small hill, which cast a shadow over the entire course. The recent cold temps had the ground frozen as well as the many transitions from grass or gravel to pavement/sidewalk. It was sketchy. The woods sections were equally as sketchy as the grippy loose dirt on top was getting pushed off and all that was left was frozen, slick AF, ground that toe spikes were having trouble to puncture. Like peanut butter on glass!
I dropped tire pressure significantly over the preview laps and landed on 18psi front and 20psi rear, which is the lowest I have gone all year. The course was also slow because any speed meant braking and braking meant slipping. Finesse ruled fitness on this course, though having both was key!
Sunday’s temps creeped into the upper 30s, Fahrenheit, and the women kicked it off first at 1:30pm. I caught the beginning of their race live in our house and quickly noted, “When in doubt, run it out”.
The course was only getting slicker as the women’s race went on and this trend continued throughout our race.
I had a 4th or 5th row call up and when the light turned green I found myself sitting in 21st on the first lap. I may have bitten off a bit more than I could chew and faded a bit but I was holding strong in the 30s toward the middle of the race.
I had a bad crash about 4-5 laps in. My front wheel washed out, my shifter grabbed a stake, and I was airborne. I got up with some scrapes on my knee, but more damaging, and a huge blow to my psyche. I tried to tell myself that everyone was crashing and I could recover from this by staying smooth but my body wouldn’t believe my head and I couldn’t get back into it.
Determined to finish I trudged on, gradually fading through the pack. With 2 laps to go I hit the deck hard again, or rather a tree then the deck. The same tree Toon Aerts hit with his shoulder, which looked like it exploded! I got my bell rung and the wind knocked out of me hard enough that I sat off the course with some spectators and a medic until I caught my breath, realized nothing was broken, and felt as though I could limp on.
The two minutes or so I sat off course was enough for Wout to catch up to me by the end of the lap and I was pulled, which I was grateful for. I got pulled right behind my fellow American Kevin Bradford-Peris, however, the medic must have radioed in my number as injured, and consequently, I was marked as a DNF in the results.
This race in my opinion was harder mentally than physically. Sure the course was slippery and treacherous at times but everyone was falling, except maybe Wout van Aert – but no one races him. The key was to not get bogged down mentally by minor slip ups and dabs. Over the race the course was getting more slippery and lines were constantly changing. Leaning your bike in corners was a no-no!
The mental part is where I struggled. I am in a good spot right now fitness wise but the hard crash in the middle of the race threw me off balance and I couldn’t regain composure after that. I lost my will to fight for every wheel and at the World Cup level that is detrimental to maintaining position, again, unless you are Wout… Apparently, he can have all the mishaps and still come from 20 back to win World Cups.
Once I realized I was not broken, the reality that my first Euro CX race will forever be marked as a DNF was a difficult pill to swallow. I drowned my sorrows in pizza and filled in the crevasses with gelato.
Struggling to pack my bags last night gave me a lot of time to think about how bad I want it at Hoogerheide this weekend. With every wince I concluded that I have three more Euro CX race weekends then Japan and I am determined to have a result I can be happy with. Plus, I didn’t end up like Toon. #silverlining
We spent Monday at the beach! Well… the ocean. And we didn’t stay long. It was 35ºF with big wind gusts… Climbing up in a small dock lighthouse tower yielded a good view over Fiumicino and a great place to watch planes touch down.
Thanks to all those who caught the live stream. It means a lot to have support back home. Motivation to keep pushing! I’ll be aiming for more camera time next weekend so keep your eyes peeled for the orange and black!