cyclocross

Weekly Wyman Update: What Goes Up Must Come Down

Kona cyclocross racer Helen Wyman had a challenging weekend in Belgium as she crashed in both her events after strong starts. Winter was in full effect making the technical conditions even more challenging. But, as Wyman knows, it’s all a part of the bigger game.

Video recap from Essen:

 

“It was back to the usual routine of Belgian racing with back to back events over the weekend.  It wasn’t my best weekend, but there were good signs.   After a very heavy training block in Spain I wasn’t expecting to feel too good but actually started both events well.  Frustratingly I managed to crash while in 2nd place in both events and put myself out of contention.  The World Cup series starts again this coming weekend and then we hit the busy Christmas period of racing.”

 

Video recap from Overijse:

Wyman Wins in Spain!

Going to Spain for some training is a pretty standard event for me, something I’ve been doing for many years.  This season, though, I managed to squeeze a race into the training camp and help put some speed into my legs.  I’m glad to say it went well, with win number 6 now in the books.  Overall it was a good block of training and I’m now back in Belgium and ready for the busy block of races that faces me for December. These races outside of Belgium have become a vital part of this season, with my focus on gaining a higher UCI rank, following last season’s injury.  I’ve moved up to 10th in the world rankings now, which gives me hope of a front row start the World Championships in January.” – Helen Wyman

Tulsa Tango

After eating way too much turkey and having way too much fun with friends over Thanksgiving it was time to get back between the tape for the last C1 weekend of the North American CX season.

Doug had dropped the trailer in Tulsa after Louisville so we both flew in and met up on Thursday. We stayed at Jill and Chris Dakin’s house, who were amazing all weekend. Their two 11 year-old boys raced the weekend, Chris did the P 1, 2 race both days, and the whole family came to support all the races all weekend.

Friday, we spent a lazy morning getting ready to check out the course, which opened at 3 pm. Though there is not a lot of elevation change in the park Tanner and the course designers put together a fun track. There was an up and down sandpit, a slick creek crossing, an unpredictable creek crossing, some fun single track in the woods, and some stairs that were rideable.

Day 1 the course went counter clockwise and Day 2 was the opposite.

I was prepared for some tactical racing as the course wasn’t physically demanding. The key was to keep it together as you were seeing red on the rev limiter. One dab or slip up could open up a gap, though, the gaps were hard to maintain due to the nature of the course.

After another pre-ride Saturday around noon, I opted for the Donnelly file treads at 21F-24R.

 

The gun sounded and we were routed straight into the sand section. The field was strung out and we had a large group at the front for the first half of the race. It wasn’t until 5 or 4 to go that the front group was a definite group of 5: Tobin Ortenblad, Gage Hecht, Lance Haidet, Cody Kaiser, and myself.

With three to go Gage dropped his chain on the steps and then it was Lance, Tobin, and I at the front. Gage clawed his way back on as we started 1 lap to go. I found the front halfway through the last lap, which is when we entered the single track. Soon after that we approached the finish.

I thought being in the front at that point was crucial to holding the chasers off. As we came upon 200m to go I was sure I was going to have the win until I went to the outside around a right-hand corner to avoid the steeper part of a ditch crossing, the line that everyone took all race. Tobin came in hot and sent it straight over the ditch on the inside to chop me in the exit of the corner. I was on his wheel but there was no room to move up in the final corners of the race and he held me off for the win.

That one hurt. I was looking forward to getting a C1 win this season and that was my last chance. While it was my best C1 finish, it didn’t come with the satisfaction that those kinds of finishes usually provide. I was feeling physically strong all day and comfortable in the technical bits but Tobin found the chink in my finish strategy armor. Ellery, Chris’s 5 year old daughter, burst into tears when I crossed the line in second because she wanted me to win so bad. I am glad she acted out my emotions so I didn’t have too. Heh.

There exists a sliver lining, though. We went back to the host house and grilled out, had a cocktail or two, and ate outside on a 60ºF night in the beginning of December, but apparently, global warming is “fake news”.

After a pre-ride of Sunday’s course, I opted for MXP’s at 23F-25R. There were a few more roots exposed and the extra grip comforts me when I am riding aggressively, which was the plan for the day.

The wind was howling all afternoon and I knew that would make it even harder to break up the field. No one wants to stick their nose out in the wind and pull everyone along with them, especially on a tactical course like Ruts n’ Guts.

Sure enough, we had a huge group of 15 strung out two laps in, then 10, and then 8. Finally, with about 4 to go, it was a group of 5. Again, I was feeling strong and thinking ahead to the end of the race, where my positioning should be and how to hold off Tobin’s, infamous, last half lap charge.

Just as we entered the woods section after the finish we dipped down and turned left across a small rise. I took a hard pedal stroke out of the corner and SNAP! I managed to break my chain.

I was far from the pit and there wasn’t much I could do but kick push and run. I got a new bike from Doug and proceeded to do damage control. There wasn’t much to race for except the purpose of finishing the race, going hard, and anger management. I could have easily thrown in the towel as I wasn’t going to get any UCI points and the payout for a C2, outside of the top five, isn’t worth getting out of bed for. But I stayed on the gas and stayed in the race mentally, which is a positive take away.

After the race, I was bummed out. I was feeling good all race and looking forward to shaking it up on the last lap to contend for the win, which is the about the only positive take away. There is comfort in knowing that my result on paper was a direct result of something I couldn’t control rather than having a biomechanical. The fitness is there but so was a small lapse in oversight from lady luck.

It’s on to the next one! I’m heading to Hendersonville, NC, which is 2.5 hrs from Winston-Salem and a race I have done for the last 4 or 5 years. I got my first UCI win there and I am looking forward to the course changes that Tim Hopkins, NCCX race promoter and course designer, has made. There isn’t any rain in the forecast but the temps are dropping into the mid 40’s and lows in the 20’s overnight. Maybe we will have some freeze/thaw slick but at least we will be in long sleeve skin suits.

CX Fest in Quebec Was One of a Kind

Nothing short of fun, laughs, and great riding at the CX Fest in Montreal this year. The sub-zero temperatures didn’t stop riders from having a blast on the track custom made by organizer Emile Robillard, who only had one goal in mind: put an event together where people are just having a good time riding their bikes. But, how much fun can it be running to your bike, riding through a school bus, getting into a jungle of pool noodles and avoiding hanging pickles? (Yes, CX is eclectic, but that’s what makes it fun!) See for yourself :

YouTube Preview Image

The event raised just short of $2000 to help out building trails in the area, and organizers would like to thank their partners, La CordeeGroupe Plein Air Terrebonne, and Kona Bikes for their support. Cx Fest will definitely be back next year!
Photos by Judicael Aspirot – Instagram @judjudjud
Video by Maxime Trudel – Instagram @mt_lab

Velonews Highlights Kerry Werner’s Rising Star

 

Velonews has released a profile on Kona cyclocross rider Kerry Werner that tells of Werner’s big goal: to dominate the CX field. Werner has had strong results this season and continues to improve each year. Check out the full story on Velonews.

And, just in case you’re looking for a little motivation today, check out Kerry in our video, Cross/Roads.

Keeping it Real – Spencer Wins at Woodland

In the not-so-quiet corner of the world that is the Seattle cyclocross scene, the Woodland Park Grand Prix is regarded by many as the prestige cyclocross event. It’s the race to hit, and the party to be in. As such, 948 racers and many more fans made their way to the popular venue in the heart of town this past Sunday afternoon to experience a day at the races.  As the perennial finale to the MFG Cyclocross Series since 2008, Woodland Park buzzes with an extra level of energy, extra cowbell, extra Nutella on the waffles, and extra bubbles in the foam party. In the Elite Men’s division, this year saw the series overall title on the line with a tight battle between Kona team rider Spencer Paxson and curly-bar sensation Steve Fisher.  The “Woodland Park Bout” was fast and tight, but not so much that there wasn’t time for a little revelry on the SSCXWC-esque “Slip-n-Slide” bonus line mid-race. Spencer went on to win the day aboard his Super Jake. Read on for a few of the highlight moments. 

Dennis Crane

A little bit prestige cyclocross, a little bit SSCXWC shenanigans, the infamous Seattle Hodala Crew put on a serious party on the back end of the course with a Slip-n-Slide A-Line, where riders had the choice of vaulting over a pile of wood palettes and sliding down the hill through a wave of foam. “This is sort of a metaphor for my career as a cyclist”, said Spencer, speaking of the foam party line mid-race. “Fast and fun…we may look all serious in our coordinated spandex suits, but it doesn’t mean we don’t look forward to getting loose and having a good time in the process. Top racing moment right here.  Thanks, Hodala Crew!

Dennis Crane

What’s a race without a bit of fun hype before the race to highlight the tight duel between the two Bellingham riders Fisher and Paxson? The Series Overall was on the line going into the 6th and final round of the MFG Series, with Spencer trailing in second by a scant four points.  Fisher, a graduate of Kona’s prestigious Rad Racing Northwest program, is an accomplished North American professional road racer and ‘cross racer, known for a sharp sprint, serious power, and savvy tactics. He and Spencer had dueled all season, with “The Fish” taking several sprint finishes by a hair. As for Spencer, he says, “my edge is actually on the runs, or when it gets really gnarly and cold.” With mild conditions slated for Sunday, the stage was set for an exciting race.  With a tight points bracket, Spencer would have to win, with “The Fish” in 4th place or worse, in order to take the series.  While a win for Spencer was in the cards, a low finish for Fisher was unlikely. Regardless, it was gentlemanly, high-class, gloves off racing from the gun!

Dennis Crane

Grabbing the holeshot off the start line, Spencer sports the new pink-on-black-on-blue and the new Super Jake. Conditions were tacky and fast on Sunday. “With high speeds, the margin for getting out ahead is tighter, so the start was pretty hot,” noted Spencer.

Dennis Crane

A tight and exciting duel all day between Spencer and rival Steve Fisher, along with 2013 Masters World Champ and Seattle legend Russel Stevenson. Spencer would emerge victorious with a decisive last-lap attack on a steep run-up around 600-meters before the finish.

Dennis Crane

Tech notes from Spencer: “I’m running a 54cm Super Jake frame with a 90mm, -17deg stem and 44cm bars, 2×11 Shimano Ultegra Drivetrain, 172.5mm cranks and XTR 11-40 cassette in the back (40t limited out). For tires today I ran the WTB Riddler 37c at 24psi and 25psi front and rear, respectively. For reference, my system weight is approximately 170lbs/77kg (rider and bike combined). Conditions were fast and tacky with only a bit of need for some bite in the high-speed corners, which made this tread profile and supple tubeless feel a good option.”

Spencer took the win on the day, and Fisher would retain the series lead by a couple points.

With the traditional North American cyclocross season winding down in most parts of the US (for Europeans, it’s just getting rolling, and will go until February!), riders are either preparing to give the bikes a rest, or keep up with their local series, and maybe even thinking about plans for the next season already. In Washington, there is still a State Championship on the line, as well as other series to wrap up, including the Seattle Cyclocross Revolution and Northwest Cyclocross Cup, and Bellingham’s Cascade Cross Series which will go into December and January. The cyclocross scene, while already hot in the Northwest, is sure to heat up even more as the 2019 Cyclocross National Championships approach – taking place in Tacoma, Washington. When asked about future plans for a deeper pursuit of ‘cross, Spencer alludes to considering a “long game” for ‘Cross Nat’s, but for now, time for a beer.

Dennis Crane

Wyman Takes Second at Bogense World Cup

It’s been a couple seasons since Kona Cyclocross racer Helen Wyman stood on a World Cup podium, but the wait is now over! After getting a strong start, Wyman took second place at the Bogense, Denmark World Cup aboard her Super Jake.

 

“That was a pretty good weekend in Denmark.  After one lap of the course on Saturday, I wasn’t particularly keen and if I’m honest I wasn’t feeling very positive about it.  However after a swift talking to from the coach, I realised that if I break the course down into its component parts, it was actually a pretty simple challenge.  Half was flat out and not my strong point, and the remainder was a running event.  With that in mind, I started to ride it differently and felt positive.  When the opportunity opened up to move forward from my second-row start, I grabbed it and chased Sanne.  It was fun to battle with the World Champion, but she was the strongest out there and fully deserved the win.   It was good to be back on the World Cup podium after a few seasons away, and I’m hitting the next events confident I can keep my good recent run going.”  – Helen Wyman

 

2 for 2, Thoroughly Gnarly, Totally Balmy – Spencer Paxson Checks in from a Weekend of Kona’s Backyard ‘Cross Scene

Barreling down through the mud and the snow at the ever raw and rugged Cascade Cross Series. Photo: Matt Curtis

Team Rider Spencer Paxson checks in from a messy weekend of local cyclocross action in Kona’s back yard in western Washington. While our cyclocross superstar A-Team of Helen Wyman and Kerry Werner tear up the international and national ‘cross season, Adventure Team rider Spencer has been keeping his racing craft sharp (and flying the Kona flag high) at the epicenter of Washington’s cyclocross scene.  Spencer claimed back-to-back wins amidst brutal conditions, one aboard a Private Jake, the second aboard our new Super Jake. Read on for a brief recap and on how you can get your bike to look this good.

It’s not always pretty!‘ That’s what I thought as I pedaled back home after Saturday’s race at the Hannegan Speedway in Bellingham. Round #3 of the Cascade Cross Series.  It was 33 degrees, squinting as huge flakes of snow pelted my face. We had just spent the last hour racing through a horrifyingly muddy yet amazing track on the outskirts of town.  I kept the pace up to retain the dwindling warmth in my extremities. I could feel the thick mud caked across the front of my clothes begin to stiffen and freeze.  ‘Even after all these years…it’s remarkable that we do this kind of stuff.‘ But that’s part of the point, perhaps.  The bewilderment combined with the exhilaration keeps you coming back for more because it’s all just a mystery. Or maybe that’s only for crazy people like me…

‘Squish, squelch, squash, plosh’ – the real sounds of ‘cross. Photo Matt Curtis

But finally, cyclocross conditions worth reporting on! Until this past weekend, each race I had done was warm enough for bare arms and legs.  This weekend was deep, deep in the opposite direction.  One degree above freezing, with snow and rain mixed into a marrow-chilling breeze, as if there were such a thing as cold steam.  And hundreds of bike riders keeping the mud churned all day long.

Cascade Cyclocross promoter Kip Zwolenski marveling at the carnage from Saturday’s course. Photo Matt Curtis

Sunday’s race brought me south to Tacoma and Round 5 of Seattle’s flagship MFG Cyclocross Series.  I’ve been in a hot (now cold) off-season “battle” with friend and fellow Bellinghamer Steve Fisher for the series overall this year. Of course, I’m sitting second, and all statistical analysis points towards me sticking in that spot (the perennial Bride’s Maid!). But on Sunday I edged closer with a win (Steve wasn’t there). It was not without drama, however, as shortly after the start, while taking a strange line with a big bump, I dropped a chain and fell to dead last.  Ever experienced from weathering setbacks, I was able to slither my way through the field, back to the front, and hold a lead through the pelting snow and claim a discreet victory…it was snowing so hard, I don’t think anyone could see.

“Snow-Aero” – It was coming down so heavy during the MFG race on Sunday that a thick coating formed on the leading edge of all surfaces. After an early mishap, Spencer fought through these conditions and the field to take the win.

lofi cross

Crappy picture? “That’s the point,” said Spencer. In conditions so wet and cold that fingers could barely work to use cameras, “a crisp-looking ‘Insta-perfect’ shot just wouldn’t do it justice.” Here channeling his inner Erik Tonkin and Team S&M spirit, thus loving the conditions.

Stay tuned for more updates from Spencer’s “B-Team” cyclocross action, and some even more unappealing “off-season” activities.

Kona Quebec Grassroots CX Rider Laurie Arseneault Wins Twice in one Weekend

Switching discipline isn’t an easy task. When local Quebec athlete Laurie Arseneault got into Cyclocross as an attempt to stay competitive in the cross-country offseason, we couldn’t have known just how tough she would be.

Between the rain, ankles injuries, school, and work, she proved everybody that she is one tough woman and that nothing can get in her way.

Laurie has made her way to the podium a few times during this CX season, but this weekend at the 7th and 8th rounds of the Série de CycloCross Maglia Rosa, everything came together, not only did she take the win at Saturday’s Round 7 event, she went back the next day with her Jake the Snake and won her second gold medal at Round 8.

With only three races to wrap up this season, she sits firmly on the second step of the overall Elite women in the provincial championship.

Allez Laurie !!

Photos: @judjudjud

Kona Cyclocross star Helen Wyman takes her first season win

Kona’s newly redesigned carbon Super Jake found its way onto the top step of of a Swiss podium in the weekend, piloted by legendary Kona CX superstar Helen Wyman. It’s her third podium of the season and sure sign she is back in top form!

“This weekend was a first major European road trip as I got to experience the EKZ Cross Tour for the first time after a long drive to Switzerland. It’s a series I’ve heard a lot about and have wanted to start for a long time. The race was a C1 in Aigle, the home of the UCI, and I’m happy to say to I won. It’s been a year since my last CX win, and it’s a relief, and shows I’m getting back to my pre-accident form. The next big race is the first European World Cup of the season in Koksijde”Helen Wyman

Helen Wyman and the Kona Super Jake Find the Podium in Belgium

Helen Wyman is off to a strong start this season after a broken collarbone dashed her hopes of staying at the top of the European cyclocross pack last year. Riding the new Super Jake, Helen’s picked up her first podium back on European soil after the 2017-2018 World Cup season got started in the US.

Scroll down for Helen’s report from Neerpelt and Gieten, and her quick 1-minute CX Diaries videos from those races.

“A big weekend of racing to get the body back into the European season, I took on two events in Belgium and Holland.  Neerpelt UCI C2, and the first round of the Superprestige series.  I’m happy with the performance and results and it’s always really nice to be on the podium.  Next weekend is another two-race weekend with both events in Belgium this time as we return to the DVV series.”  – Helen Wyman

Kerry Werner Reports from KMC Crit Fest

Coming off the two world cups I was feeling good about my form and looking forward to battling at the front of the race rather than hanging on to the wheels of Euro cross bosses.

Doug and I made the 5hr drive from my parent’s house in southeastern Pa to Thompson, CT where we had an Airbnb on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg. This was less than five miles from the venue, which was super convenient, Doug went searching for fitness and ran to the course one day.

Friday was race day, which is unusual. We typically race Saturday and Sunday but for some reason the promoters saw it necessary to schedule the weekend like so. The course was pretty similar to last year except 200% drier and dustier, more rock and stone exposure, and much more pavement.

We kicked off at 6:30pm and I found myself in a good spot. Tobin and I had a bit of a gap on the rest of the field, nothing super substantial but enough that if we worked together we could have stayed away for a few laps. We came through the half lap and to our surprise, an official was crossing the course. He was looking at his clipboard heading form the start grid to the pit zone and was oblivious to the rapidly decreasing distance between Tobin and him, until Tobin yelled out. He did some stutter stepping then pulled deer in the headlights and stood there. Tobin managed to sneak through to his right. I barreled right for him and landed a direct hit. He went down and I simply unclipped and went on my way, though our hopes of staying away were demolished. (All is well. He apologized and we both agreed that it was good he or I didn’t get hurt, or my bike was fine, and it the grand scheme of things it didn’t affect the race.) I am excited to see the crash highlight video.


We settled into the group and started playing the games. No matter who went to the front it resulted in the same thing, coming back together.

It came down to the last lap and a group of six of us went to the line together. Tobin, Jack K, Spencer Petrov, and Hyde were in front of me and they lulled for a split second before a decisive set of corners leading to the finish. I should have jumped but I didn’t, Tobin did and lead it to the line. I rolled in for 5th.

Saturday was a rest day. I participated in leading out the gran fondo and got my ride in early so I had the rest of the day to relax and mess around on the lake at the Airbnb. I got out for a little cruise on the Kayak then Doug and I took the paddle boat out. Naps were had and Netflix was watched before calling it a night.

Sunday we raced at 4pm but arrived at the venue around 12 to get on the course and scope out any changes/ dial in pressures, etc. I decided to run a little higher tire pressure because of all the rocks and bumps. I didn’t want to flat and there was plenty of traction on course so there wasn’t a down side to running a little more. Better safe than sorry.

The gun went and once again, due to the long start on the race track oval, mid pack riders swelled to the front mixing in with the top 10. This is often frustrating because it is only a matter of time before the pin on the grenade is pulled and they are going backwards, usually opening gaps and sometimes leaving crashes in their wake.

By mid race there was a group of 8 of us all doing our darndest to get away, to no avail. It came down to the last lap. Stephen jumped and Tobin set on his wheel. I managed to find myself in the wrong place at the wrong time and was left clinging on to the chase group about 5 sec back.

I came into the final corners and barriers in 3rd place leading Curtis White. I hopped the barriers and he ran giving me a bit of a gap. He shut it down by the time we u-turned into the finish straight and we went to the line together. He managed to nip me with a bike through and squash my hopes of a podium by a tire knob.

Coming out of the weekend I wanted more, but I am not too broken up about my results. I currently sit 3rd in the US Cup CX overall and while Charm City doesn’t look like it will be any wetter than KMC there is a hill and sand pit to help break things up. As coach Jim Lehman laments, “You have to be able to perform in all conditions, under all kinds of circumstances.” Therefore, while I favor some mud and grit and a less tactical race, I’ll have to make due and figure out a recipe for success to take McTubbin down.