Kerry Werner

Spencer Paxson Waxes About his 2-3 Finish with Kerry Werner at the Pisgah Stage Race!

Spencer Paxson and Kerry Werner went 2-3 at the Pisgah Stage Race on their Hei Heis. As usual, Spencer’s trip report is super thoughtful and interesting! Here goes…

Words by Spencer Paxson. Photos courtesy Blue Ridge Adventures and Icon Media Asheville.

If the Bible had been written in the Pacific Northwest, the expression “shake the dust off your feet” would go something like “scrape the moss off…” At least that was my thought as I hummed out of town in my moss-covered truck early one April morning for my first race trip of the 2017 season. It had been a long and wet winter in Bellingham. The longest in recorded history. I had let the legs go good and fallow since my last race in November, and then spent all of December off of the bike (on account of the snow). For the past three months I had been riding the magic carpet of loam on the trails around town to get back in shape. Now it was time to put it to the test and wake the senses from hibernation with a trip to the Pisgah Stage Race in North Carolina.

Needless to say, I was keen to get out and stretch my legs in the old crumbly Blue Ridge Mountains and rhododendron groves of western North Carolina. The objective was the Pisgah Stage Race, a 5-day humdinger of a mountain bike stage race based out of the town of Brevard. This would be the 9th edition of the famous event and my first time racing it. Along the way I’d link up with new teammate and North Carolina native Kerry Werner and the good folks at Tennessee Valley Bikes (TVB) in Knoxville.

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There was no lacking in fine Southern hospitality as soon as I landed in Knoxville. In no time I had tossed my bag into the back of a big truck and was driving down the highway with a Nikki Lane song twanging on the radio as the sun set over the Smoky Mountains. A big dinner of hole-in-the-wall Mexican food with Scott and Eric from TVB and the road warriors from Kona Bicycles Demo Tour had me feeling fat as a tick. With a happy post-travel coma fast approaching, I passed out that night to the sound of the local crickets and katydids.

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We shook our legs out at the Kona Demo Day at the new Knoxville Urban Wilderness trail system, followed that evening my some official pre-fueling at TVB’s new shop grand opening. Kerry and I were elected as chief judges for a “guac-off”. We sampled 14 different kinds of guacamole scoring on 8 criteria each, then topped off on street corn and sausages before bidding farewell to Knoxville and caravanning down the Blue Ridge Highway to Brevard. We weathered a flat tire on the RV and made it to the Pine Ridge campground and my first night in the Pisgah Forest. Just before midnight I had pitched a tent on a little grassy nook next the Davidson River with the blue light of the moon shining so bright I could read a book without a flashlight.

Coffee, pancakes, and NPR News in the morning would begin the routine for the coming week as Kerry whipped up a mighty fine breakfast before our first day pre-riding some of the Pisgah trails. The weather was looking prime, with sun and short-sleeve temperatures forecasted for the week, maybe a frogwash or two along the way, but otherwise uncharacteristically dry for spring. Despite the warm temperatures, the trees had not bloomed yet, and the only green in the woods was the dark evergreen of rhododendron groves. The absence of leaves gave the forest a brisk and flinty appearance. I kept an eye out for the famous white squirrels of Pisgah and imagined old-time Civil War era history as we rolled out to the trails.

“This one’ll get a little loose,” noted Kerry before we dropped into the first descent of the day. I had expected Pisgah to be rough based on the stories I had heard, but that said, I was caught off guard after four months of riding the luxurious loam carpets of Cascadia. Yes, our trails in Bellingham can get rough and wild, but there’s a nuance to everything. The trails of Pisgah are refreshingly raw, rocky and rooty, ungroomed and unapologetic. Riding fast here requires a smoothness akin to the prolonged vowels of the Southern drawl. Managing traction and speed are as different here as the accent. Fundamentals are the same, but the expressions don’t work without the subtleties. I felt like I couldn’t carry my speed if I had a bucket with a lid on it! Let’s say my Yankee rigidity would hold me back through the first half of the stage race, but I eventually adopted a smoother Southern style.

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Racing arrived soon enough, and on the morning of Stage 1 the air was abuzz as the crowd of 200 racers from 11 countries lined up for the 5-day, 140-mile journey. We plunged through an icy stream and into the rhododendron forests. A group of four, including Kerry, a local elite rider named Tristan Cowie, one Mystery European and myself, quickly separated from the masses and soon we were all seeing double as we navigated our way up and away into the forest. The battle was on.

Kerry was the defending champion of Pisgah and bringing the thunder after a career best cyclocross season in 2016, not to mention a long history as one of the top MTBrs in the country. Tristan Cowie was no stranger to the top-level of mountain bike racing himself, having been a regular on the US National Team in the 2007-2009 period. And as a local, he knew each of the trails like a tree knows its roots. The Mystery European turned out to be from Spain and was an ex-World Cup dominator. With fast conditions and good legs, we blazed through the stage setting a course record a whopping 20 minutes faster than the year before! Midway through, Tristan launched a perfect attack into a long descent, placing the Spaniard between him and myself. Spaniard’s skill going down was not as good as it was going up, and Tristan began to float away. I eventually snuck around Spaniard, but I wasn’t riding very smooth either, and though I was reeling Tristan in, there wasn’t enough of the day left to close the gap. I came in second on Day 1 by 19 seconds, a gap that would ebb and flow through the week. Kerry rolled in third.

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Meanwhile, Kona Grassroots rider Jena Greaser was dominating the Open Women’s category, and would go on to do so through the week. Jena is beginning to rack up impressive results, with a top-3 finish a few week’s prior at the TransRockies Moab Rocks stage race in Utah. Desert to Appalachia, she is a Canadian force to be reckoned with. In the Open Men’s field and just a possum’s tail behind us was Super Grassroots rider Cory Rimmer, a young and rising star from North Carolina. Cory put the hustle to the enduro sections like a fart in a fan factory and would go on to take second overall in the Enduro portion of the race.

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At the front end of the field, the days at Pisgah are relatively short at around 2-2.5hrs each. The upside is that the fatigue doesn’t stack up the way it does in longer death-march style races where each day is over 4 hours. The flip side is that the short days make for very intense and fast racing. The pace each day is faster than green grass through a goose. Course records fell left and right as we stormed through the hills, beating times set by previous legends of the sport Jeremiah Bishop, Thomas Turner, Sam Koerber and Adam Craig. Was it the trail conditions, the modern equipment, the legs, or all combined?

Whatever it was, it made for a tight battle between Tristan and me. It turns out we were well-matched. I won three stages and chopped the gap down to as little as 9 seconds, while he won the other two stages. My advantage early on was in going uphill, a metabolically expensive option. Tristan was already strong as an ox on acid on the climbs, yet his advantage was in going downhill, a much more energy-efficient option. Each day we logged at least 10 minutes worth of sustained 6 watts-per-kilogram efforts, interspersed with plenty of digs so hard they could make a preacher cuss, and long descents that left the arms feeling like a pair of arthritic snakes full of hot sauce. By day 4, I was going downhill on pace, but just couldn’t close the gap. Despite my best efforts, I finished my now customary 2nd place by less than 0.2% after five days of racing. That’s tighter than a pair of pants on a bloated elephant, and something like my 6th consecutive stage race that I’ve finished as bridesmaid.

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Kerry wrapped up the week in third overall, and took the win in the Enduro, the race within the race, comprised of a timed segment of downhill trail on each stage. Kerry rode over those rocks, ruts and roots faster than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking competition, and was still there with a cheery smile to make breakfast for us every morning. When it was all said and done we basked in glory and downed several beers, sprawled under the sun in a grassy field at the after party listening to Nikki Lane live in concert serenade the crowd, grinnin’ like possums eatin’ sweet taters. It was a damn fine week.

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Check Spencer’s blog for the full article, and follow him on Instagram !

Kerry and Emily’s Blue Ridge Bikepacking Adventure: Beta

Words and photos by Kerry Werner.

It all started during cross season. We were staying at a host house in Sun Prairie, WI, getting ready for the Waterloo CX race, when our hosts started telling us about how they ride tandem. For some reason it clicked. I immediately thought of Emily and myself doing some sort of tandem adventure.

We had talked about doing some thing really cool this summer because in the fall she will start an internship, which will keep her chained to Winston-Salem. She will have little time for extended adventures – the likes of which a standard 4 year college degree and two years of grad school allowed, the latter less often of course.

Then I thought of a conversation I had last summer with a good friend, the Lees McRae Collegiate Cycling Coach. We pondered how cool it would be to do a fully supported Blue Ridge Parkway through-ride, by raising some money for a charity of our choice. This would allow us to simply ride with two bottles and a phone to take pictures then meet the support vehicle at the end of the day, have a good meal, sleep in a bed, and wake up to do it all again the next day.

So with these two thoughts aligned my brain instantly computed that Emily and I should do a Parkway through-ride, bikepacking on a tandem. I dropped the whole support aspect of the original plan because it would be more fun to camp and make an adventure out of it. I like to get out of my comfort zone, it helps me grow and realize I am human. Plus, I was watching my friend Russell Finsterwald’s Instagram, and what not, all fall. This must have lead to an immense amount of pent up jealousy, which erupted into this idea.

From there the plan changed slightly, only in the approach. Instead of a tandem Emily would use panniers and I would pull a B.O.B. Yak trailer, behind my Major Jake of course.

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It was Emily’s spring break, instead of Punta Cana or Cancun, we decided an abbreviated bike packing trip (3 days, 2 nights) from Winston-Salem to Stone Mountain State Park. Stone Mountain State Park, along the Parkway, to Boone, NC, Boone back to Winston-Salem, with a mandatory bakery stop (and later an emergency donut stop).

We strapped on our cold weather gear, loaded up the rigs and headed out into the burliest head wind… and that is how it was for the next 5 hours.

Tall shadows confirming our late arrival at the end of Day 1, which was not a pleasant way to start this journey. It ground our average pace down to 12.8 MPH, which wasn’t planned when we started late at 12 noon.

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It was an expected low of 15ºF that night and the temp was dropping fast when we rolled in. We got out of the saddles and straight into the tent, inhaled some freeze dried food and cookies, then lights out.

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We woke…

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Breakfast…

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Packed and hit the road!

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The night was nice, our gear kept us warm, the sun was out, and we were feeling revived, refreshed, reinvigorated.

Got on the Parkway in the first 5 miles and didn’t have to get off it for the next 60.

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These were the reason the Parkway was added into this equation. Vistas to the right and left for 60 miles.

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The BRP holds a special place in my heart because I trained on it for 6 years while I was in Banner Elk, NC going to college. This is why…

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I can remember doing efforts on climbs and finishing at the top, completely blown, I crane my neck and my eyes focus on layers of pastel blues darkening and deepening as the miles stretch on.

It was just as I remember it.

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We called a friend in Boone because why struggle when awesome people want to help? We were welcomed into a warm kitchen, straight to a bubbling pot of chili, and as much hot tea as we could manage. After warm showers and a great meal it wasn’t long before lights out. Besides, tomorrow was going to be a big day.

Pancakes for breakfast, lots of them, or rather one giant one that would fill your plate like a mini pizza but was half an inch thick and absorbing all the syrup you could throw at it.

Out the door, but first to Hatchet Coffee for a little pick me up and a pastry from Stickboy Bread Co.

Now for real, Boone to Winston, 100 miles! The previous two days were 65 miles. We were a little nervous because the all day head wind and the 60 miles of Parkway forced our average speeds down – below 12 the second day. If we didn’t have a tail wind or wouldn’t have started the ride by dropping Elk Creek Road – a big paved, snaking decent, which intermittently pops on and off gravel as it serpentines next to a gently rolling creek – we wouldn’t have made it before dark.

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Luckily, the bike gods were on our side because by the end of the day we averaged 16.1 MPH. This was after an emergency donut stop just outside of Wilkesboro, NC. As well as a stop at the Amish Bakery in Windsor, NC before the last push home.

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It was a long three days and the temps were certainly unfavorable, thus adding to our post ride exhaustion.

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In hindsight it is comforting to know that we managed to do the trip in the harsh, cold temps that we experienced because this was all just practice for the big hoorah! The real Blue Ridge Parkway through-ride is planned for early June, after the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race. We plan to use fitness gained from that 5 day MTB stage race to get through the Parkway through-ride.

This mini 3-day trip was crucial to first see if bikepacking is something that we both could enjoy as well as dial in our gear and weed out unnecessary pieces of equipment. I am more excited for the through-ride now than before our adventure. The warmer temps will make the whole ride more tolerable and give us longer days; we started before the time change. Thus, we will have more time to follow the brown signs of the park services to waterfall off chutes, swimming holes, and welcome centers that will be open in the summer, which were not at the beginning of March. All in all Emily and I are both excited for the big trip, though I doubt you will see us towing the B.O.B. trailer across America or down the Continental Divide anytime soon. Baby steps.

Video: Life as a Pro Cycling Mechanic

Kona Pro Cyclocross racer Kerry Werner is a force to be reckoned with, but his accomplishments between the tape don’t come without support. Enter Doug Sumi, Kerry’s mechanic on the road. And, at many of the US ProCX stops, Ricoh Riott. Ricoh and Doug teamed up to create this video from a veteran mechanic’s perspective on wrenching on the road.

Keep up with Ricoh Riott Photography on his website, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Throw Back to Tokyo with Kerry Werner

Words and photos by Kerry Werner.

It all started when I decided it wasn’t a good idea to do the China CX races at the beginning of the season. I started thinking, “What else can I do?” and then it hit me… I remembered Timmy J., Jeremy, and Zac McDonald all had done the CX Tokyo!

I had recently, even before thinking about CX Tokyo, grown a keen interest in Japanese culture, food, and the city lights. It blows my mind how their traditional views within society can keep 40 million people in line. You would think that crime would run rampant in the streets, it would be dirty and littered, and people would be jerks. Everything was quite the opposite.

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People were nice, even though I was a little shocked to learn that many people spoke little English. I guess I am too use to the melting pot of Europe where everyone speaks 3-6 languages. Apparently, the Japanese study English in school but then never have an opportunity to use it so they lose it (if you don’t use it you lose it).

The city was eye popping and with so many tall buildings! The only way to build as a contractor is up. The streets were clean and respect for the space of others was apparent everywhere I went.

I was most excited about the food scene. I had been watching “Mind of a Chef” on Netflix and David Cheng was really getting me excited for some ramen. I had tried to make it myself and I thought it was ok, however, my ignorance was immediately realized upon digging into my first bowl of tsukemen.

So after the post World Championship races Doug and I flew through Istanbul and then into Narita, 30miles west of Tokyo. The next morning we met up with Ryoji Aybeki, the CX Tokyo promoter. He was privy to my quest for the best bowl of ramen consequently we stopped for lunch on the way into Tokyo. In hindsight this was a blessing because when you walk into a ramen shop there is a vending machine type thing that you pick your ramen on, you pay, it prints your ticket, you hand it to the waiter and then wait for a steamy bowl of love.

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The problem was that all the text on the machine was in Japanese and completely indecipherable to Doug or I. We tried to shoot from the hip later in the trip and it wasn’t a complete failure, we still got great ramen, but Doug ordered the biggest bowl on the menu by accident and didn’t eat until the next day at dinner.

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Doug and I spent the first two days in the Tiato-Ku district, NW of Downtown, in Hotel Kurame. We walked everywhere, which may not have been great for the race but I have no regrets! We checked out historic Asakusa and the Skytree.

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And from 350 meters up…

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We had ramen all over and great coffee at “Bridge” recommended by my good friend Hans. We loitered in shop windows, picked up authentic handmade Japanese knives, bought souvenir chopsticks, frequented multi level malls, ate mochi on the road, and tried to blend in. We should have bought some medical masks to do this, maybe next time.

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We wandered through temple grounds…

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And were inspired by the intricate bike parking garages.

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Pre-ride was Saturday. The course was all sand, which didn’t make me particularly excited. There was no need to do openers, simply riding the course was hard enough.

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Doug and I spent all nights riding the train to somewhere new and checking out new districts. The night before the race was no different. We headed to Shibuya to check out the hustle and bustle. If I sat in the hotel room with my feet up, while in Tokyo, I would be looking back on the trip with regret.

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We raced Sunday afternoon, which was nothing special for me. I felt as though I had the fitness just not the finesse. The sand was raping me. Aerobically, I wanted and felt as though I could pedal harder but, technically, my constantly shifting body weight was hindering any power output. I finished 6… I wanted that podium, but instead I pulled out my notepad (literally I pulled up the “Notes” app on my phone and wrote“sand practice”) next year will be better. Notice I had to cut the sleeves off my long sleeve jersey. Sun’s out guns out in February.

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Big thanks to the Shimano boys for letting us take up room in their tent and all their help.

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Doug and I headed back to the hotel, packed bikes, and hit the town. We were going to check out the Imperial Gardens, but were stopped by a guard. I think they close at dark. We had some Gyoza, dumplings, and sake. Then to soak up the nights festivities we had Yakatori in the bowels of the subway station and it was marvelous.

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Monday we embarked on a sobering Journey to find “The Great Buddha”. This entailed a short 5k trail from Kita-Kamakura station to Hase Station. We saw Mount Fuji on the way, which was epic.

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We found it!

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We even checked out the beach then trained it back to the hotel.

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Tuesday we woke early to walk 3 miles to the Tsujiki fish market.

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We were greeted with fishermen who looked annoyed to see tourists wandering around their domain but who cares.

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We plopped down for sushi in the markets next to the auction area and enjoyed. The raw fish had a texture I had never experienced before. It melted in my mouth and the flavor was enhanced that much more as I was watching the Sushi master hand craft my sashimi no more than 3 feet away.

A ball of mochi for the walk back and that was all she wrote. Doug and I grabbed our bags and trained it to the airport.

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I can’t thank Ryoji and CX Tokyo enough for the experience. I don’t think I have a regret or a bad thought about my experience in the city, interacting with the people, or the culture. Though, the jet lag was brutal!

Follow Kerry on his blog and on Instagram.

CX Worlds are Finished But Kerry Werner is Not!

Wednesday we drove as a team from Sittard, NL to Bieles Luxembourg, 2.5 hours through the snow covered Ardennes. It was pretty and rad, pretty rad.

Thursday was course preview day. And it was epic. Lots of snow and ice on course, very much so like Hartford was for US Nationals. It made for a very tense pre ride and the idea, at least for me, was to just get a feel for the layout. By the time Sunday came around for my race the course was going to be drastically different.

Pre-race interview with Cyclocross Magazine:

Kermy Shields flew in on Tuesday from NC and got an Airbnb just 15min bus ride from the course. To escape the “hotel life” and hang out with Kerm I hopped on a bus with him after pre ride and hung out with him in Alzette, Lux. I made some curry, which is the first time I had cooked in way too long, had a beer, and was able to lounge about in a house not a hotel room, avoiding my hotel room claustrophobia and constricting nature of things, like Tobin farting and Stephen stealing my bed to come watch TV or youtube videos.

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Friday morning Kerm and I checked out the Square, had a cappuccino, then headed to the course so I could get on the rollers for a spin. Spacing things out throughout the day is crucial when spending an extended amount of time in a hotel. Therefore, morning lounging usually takes up 3hrs minimum and riding later in the day helps stave off afternoon boredom. This allocates time spent Netflix browsing and reading to just before bed instead of all afternoon and all evening.

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Saturday was race day for Juniors, u23 women, and elite women. We watched all the action from our rooms before heading to the course for a final pre ride and openers. At this point snow was melting but there was still ice and hard frozen ground on the majority of the course. This led to an incredible women’s finish, the most exciting of the weekend by far!

The day came and I was really excited to get after it. I felt terrible for Curtis White. He was feeling a flu at the beginning of the week and opt’ed to not start on Sunday. I would have done the same. To go out on the world stage not feeling 100% would have been a big shock and a huge kick in the nuts to anyone’s mental game. There is no need to end a great season on an extremely low note.

Saturday and Sunday produced some rain, which had the course super muddy. Mostly soupy mud but some sections were thickening up. I goofed and left my music at the hotel so I had to warm up on the trainer to Doug’s jams, which was hard AF 90’s hip hop. I am not sure if you are familiar with “Killer Mike” but I now am.

Called up 26, and I was ready for the light to turn green. I had a good start, coming through the line in the mid 20’s. The first lap was good but then guys started coming by me and I could do nothing about it. Those damn Euros start so hard and never slow down. I wasn’t feeling super snappy, which was unfortunate because there was no hiding out there, especially when the leaders were turning faster and faster laps. Not sure if I could have taken my KTM around the course as fast as they were pedaling it.

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Powers came by me with 3 to go and I jumped on his wheel. He carried us out of the group I was with and we ended up getting pulled 2 laps down… This was a big disappointment. Getting pulled is never a good feeling especially at a race like worlds but, like I said before, Van der Poel and Wout were just going nuts! Only 29 people finished on the lead lap.

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Looking back on the race I had a few small victories. One being the fact that I only flatted once and it was a slow leak so I was able to lose little to no time, two being I never crashed and felt good on the technical sections, three being I learned a ton! These last couple weekends have been eye opening. They have really showed me some things I need to work on for next year, and I am excited about it.

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A gigantic thanks to USA Cycling for the support. The mechanics did a great job among the chaos of dealing with 2 bikes for 31 riders, handling all the flats, and ever changing weather conditions. The hotel was great and logistics were never a concern.

Playlist of post-race interviews:

Now that worlds is done there is a little weight taken off my shoulders, weight that I have been putting on myself. I wanted to have a great worlds and I may not have done that but I am satisfied and content. This is probably the first time I am nearing the end of the season and I am not looking forward to taking a break.

Stephen, Kaitie A., and I have stayed in Sittard while the rest of the crew went home. Joe Devra and Doug are here and we are heading to Maldegem tomorrow, Lille on Saturday, and Hoogstraten on Sunday. Then Doug and I fly to Tokyo on Monday to race on Sunday. There are still 4 races left in my season and I can’t wait to race them.

Keep up with Kerry’s remaining time in Europe and his trip to Japan on Instagram.

World Cup Racing from the Mechanic’s Perspective – Kerry Werner

Kona Endurance Team rider Kerry Werner’s been in Europe for the past couple of weeks preparing for this weekend’s CX World Championships in Luxembourg. His last update before the big race includes an interview with his mechanic, Doug Sumi.

Instead of boring you with a race report I’m writing to show you how a World Cup CX looks from a mechanic’s perspective. However, because I am too egotistical not to touch upon my race, I got 32nd. Plus, I want to share some sick pics Meg snapped.

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My ribs were not – and are still not – 100% from crashing in Italy. Therefore, I was going into this race timid. Not timid to the point where I wouldn’t go hard but rather unsure how it would go. Training this past week was helping my skepticism to hang around. Wrenching hard on the bars when givin’er up hill or off the start line was causing me to wince. I was sure that the adrenaline would numb the pain but, I am sure, the two ibuprofen and the Redbull I shot gunned before the race helped too.

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This proved to be true for the first 3/4 of the race, however, the last 3 laps started to hurt and after crossing the finish line I couldn’t stand up straight.

But who cares! The work was done and I was pumped to put in a good result.

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More pressing matters: I sat down with Doug Sumi, my main man, to ask him how a World Cup weekend goes before, during, and after. Doug starting on the road with the Jamis road team, has since moved to the Hincapie Citadel road team, and started wrench CX two years ago for Raleigh-Clement. He came to Europe last year as Caroline Manni’s mechanic for World Cups and her World Champ silver, so he knows the ropes in the Euro pits.

I asked him a whole bunch of questions to better help you all understand a bit more about working as a mechanic on the circuit. Listen to our conversation in the youtube video/slideshow below.

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I didn’t know how to embed an audio file so I had to make a picture slide show over the audio. Sorry in advance for the background noise… I am a hack and Doug was getting ready to head over to the service course while I was recording.

It’s off to Luxembourg on Wednesday! World Champs this weekend. Woot Woot!

Follow Kerry’s World Champs weekend on Instagram and look out for the update on his blog.

Kerry Werner on Eating Pizza, Dirt, and More Pizza at His First Euro CX Race

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.

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***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?!

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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!

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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.

A video posted by Kerry Werner (@kerryw24) 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.

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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!

Follow Kerry on Instagram and on his blog, and stay tuned to the Kona Instagram for updates as our riders head for the CX World Champs in Luxembourg.

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Kona’s Kerry Werner to Represent Team USA at Cyclocross World Championships

It’s quite the honor to be chosen to represent one’s country at the World Championships of your respected discipline, and we’re happy to report that Kona Endurance Team rider Kerry Werner is headed to Luxembourg to represent Team USA. It’s nice to see Kerry’s consistent performance over the 2016-17 cyclocross season, including back to back UCI C2 wins, numerous C1 podiums, and a podium at USAC Nats paying off.

See the full list of riders headed to Luxembourg to represent Team USA at CX Hairs.

Believe the Hype: USA Cyclocross Nationals – Kerry Werner

At first glance I was not looking forward to arriving for Nationals on Tuesday only to wait around in Hartford to race on Sunday at 3pm. However, Emily Shields made it worth my while.

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The whole reason I came early was to cheer on my one and only for the Collegiate Club race and I am glad I did. She dominated! Off the line she had good positioning but didn’t choose the best line up the “Wall” and therefore found herself just outside of top 5 on the first lap. She was not deterred though. She kept her head up and slowly showed the ladies how to ride in the mud (keep in mind it was in the mid forties on Wednesday, the kind of weather mud can exist in).

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By the end of the race she had tacked more than a one minute lead. I was so happy with the way she rode and thus I got even more excited for my upcoming race.

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We were posted up in an Airbnb about 4 miles from the course just outside of d-town Hartford. I was able to avoid the venue for the most part and checked out West Hartford, which had some decent road riding. I got out for a good but cold day on Thursday for some openers to stretch my legs before Sunday’s fun.

After being at the venue on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I vowed not to set foot in Riverside Park on Friday. To achieve this Emily, Doug, and I hit J Rene’s Coffee Roasters and I had my first siphon pot brew. It was delectable.

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Saturday I headed to the venue to see what the course might actually look like for my race on Sunday. It snowed significantly over night and the course was covered in a 1-2 inch thick blanket of pillowy white dust (until the bike-cyclers started going around and making it brown).

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The snow made for a sand-esk type of ride where you were sliding through all the corners and lines where constantly changing, even while you were riding through them.

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Starting Tuesday and throughout the week the course was changing everyday due to weather and dropping temps. This made for a lot of speculation and hype about what to expect on race day, another reason to avoid the venue until I absolutely had to go. I was trying to stay calm and not let things get into my head too much. I wanted this weekend to be just like any other weekend of racing for me. I knew that if I could avoid getting amped up about it and toe the start line with a focus and determination that was uninfluenced by excessive nerves and self induced pressure I could have a good race.

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Plus, the course was pushing riders to stay loose and go with the flow. There was no sense in getting tense and stressing out. I needed to harness some Jamaican vibes, mon.

Sunday came and I was amped. I kicked off the morning with the typical pre-race cake, followed by a drive over to the course for some inspection.

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The course was more or less the same as Saturday but temps were dropping through the day making the ruts more icy and the margin for error much smaller.

The front row start helped and I quickly found myself glued to Stephen’s wheel up the wall. Out of my peripheral I saw Yannick blaze the bottom line and then run up the further part of the hill putting time on us “conventional line” users and teaching us a lesson for lap two.

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After watching Stephen and some others go down on the first two laps I knew this race was up for grabs. I found myself towards the front and feeling good on the second half of the course, which housed the more technical and turny sections.

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Then Stephen started to come around and unleash the beast. He gapped me and I was riding second for a while until Papa Driscoll came by me. I knew I had my work cut out for me if Jamey was towards the front at the end of the race…

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He managed to gap me, mostly likely because he was running those new Clement BOS tires, and I found myself fighting off chasers the last two laps. Jamey was always with in 15 seconds so I new a slip up could put me in contention for 2nd or even 1st. The name of the game for me the last two laps was riding smooth and I managed to pull it off.

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Photo: Meg McMahon

I was so pumped to roll across the line and let my shoulders relax. The line I was riding was between cautious and pinning it to the point where I thought I was going down a couple times. Though it all worked out and culminated in my first Elite Nationals podium!

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Photo: Meg McMahon

I can’t thank the support crew enough. The Shields family as always has my back and I was ecstatic to have my parents there to witness the race, even if it did stress them out a bit. Doug was more than exceptional this weekend. I can’t wait to head overseas with my main man for another 5 weekends of CX racing. The adventures are only beginning.

Off to Fiuggi, Italy on Thursday for the World Cup on Sunday. Doug and I will be teaming up with Becca Fahringer for a dream team assault on the city that is about 1.5 hours east of Rome. The goals are to smash the race, eats lots of pizza, drink more espresso, and possibly some vino.

Keep up with Kerry’s world travels on Instagram and through the Kona Bikes Instagram and Facebook pages.

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Kona Riders on the Podium at Both USA and UK 2017 Cyclocross National Championships

Kona riders on both sides of the Atlantic had successful racing weekends aboard their Jake CX bikes at their respective 2017 Cyclocross National Championship races. On the European side we saw Amira Mellor of team NEXT Wyman racing in the British Cycling U23 Women’s race, while Kona Endurance team rider Kerry Werner lined up with the Elite Men for the final race of the USA Cycling calendar.

Amira Mellor 2nd in UK U23 Women’s Cyclocross National Championship

Beginning with Sunday’s races in Bradford, England, Amira Mellor clinched a solid second place in the U23 Women’s category. Following up on her first UCI win the weekend previous, Amira is riding strong in the final weeks of her season, and battled to regain position after getting caught behind traffic in the first lap. With a silver medal on home soil, Amira now looks forward to one final UCI round before the World Championships in two weeks’ time.

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amira-mellor-huw-williams-cxnatsPhoto: Huw Williams
Kerry Werner 3rd in USAC Elite Men’s Cyclocross National Championships

Lining up on the front row with the Elite Men in Hartford, Connecticut, Kerry Werner stormed into 2nd place off the start and held on to that position for the majority of the hour-long race. Conditions in Hartford were legendary, with snow covering much of the course and temperatures well below freezing. Kerry kept it upright for a 3rd place finish, enjoying that giant bottle of champagne with Stephen Hyde and Jamey Driscoll.

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Keep up with Amira Mellor, team NEXT Wyman, and Kerry Werner as they head into the 2017 Cyclocross World Championships in Bieles, Luxembourg on the weekend of January 28-29.

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Kerry Werner Maintains 3rd Overall in the USA Cycling Pro CX Standings Heading Into Nationals

Currently in 3rd overall in the USA Cycling Pro CX standings, and 43rd overall in the UCI world ranking, Kerry Werner‘s first cyclocross race season with the Kona Endurance Team has been a great ride. Kerry’s looking forward to this weekend’s USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships before heading to Europe for a couple more UCI C1 races prior to the World Championships in Luxembourg at the end of the month, finishing off the season with a trip to Tokyo. This update from Kerry looks back at some some recent highlights…

I’ll keep this short and filled with lots of photos because there is way too much that has happened since my last post. In terms of racing it was Hendersonville (NCGP).

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Followed by a local NCCX race in Statesville (which was wicked muddy and therefore wicked fun).

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Other than that I have been hitting the books hard and doing my homework. The prep I have undergone over the last couple weeks is going to have to carry me through the end of the season, which is about to hit hard.

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I was chatting with Doug and we talked about how we hit racing hard AF in September, it felt like we didn’t do anything over the last two months, and now we are about to go pedal to the metal for the next 6 weekends.

It hasn’t been all work and no play.

A video posted by Kerry Werner (@kerryw24) on

Christmas was great and I had a great time!

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Starting with Nationals next Sunday followed by the Italy, Fuiggi World Cup, Hoogerhiede World Cup, World Champs, two C1 races in Belgium, and ending the season with CX Tokyo in Japan. Unlike other years I am coming into the end of the season with a renewed level of energy and excitement. Not only will this be my first CX experience in Europe but I have a lot of momentum, with which, to build off of.

This year with Kona has been my best thus far. I am certain there is no way I could have achieved the things I did this year without their support and I can’t wait to finish out the season and move into the next.

I set a handful of goals at the beginning of this season and I have accomplished them all so far but one… I got third in the ProCX series, I am ranked 43rd in the world (inside the top 50 was my goal), and I am going to the world championships in Luxembourg at the end of January! The as-yet-unreached goal was to get on the podium at CX – only time will tell but I am feeling good about my fitness and eager as a beaver to race!

So, cheers to an incredible year, and another cheers to finishing the season off strong! Thanks for everyone that has been following along. I hope I can keep the excitement alive over the next two months. But first, let’s send it into the new year!

Follow Kerry’s adventures on Instagram.

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CX Magazine on Tandem Bike Touring and USA Cyclocross Nationals with Kerry Werner

Kona Endurance Team rider Kerry Werner is gearing up for this weekend’s USA Cyclocross National Championships. Having had success at nationals in the past with three collegiate national titles to his name, Kerry has a unique viewpoint on the US Pro CX scene.

Cyclocross Magazine has just published a great interview with Kerry on a whole range of topics that only a professional racer could delve into in such detail. From gear to race season strategy to team talk, there’s lots to dig into in this one.

CXM: Are you officially a dedicated ’cross racer? Or do you still consider yourself a mountain biker as well?

KW: No. I do love mountain biking, and that’s where my… In terms of riding, that’s where I can associate with the most, just like my attitude towards cycling. I am more associated with mountain biking, and maybe that’s only because ’cross hasn’t really gotten the stigma yet. Like there’s roadies, and there’s mountain bikers, but nobody is ever like, “Oh, dude, you’re a ’cross racer.” You know what I mean?

Head over to CX Magazine to read the full interview.

Kerry Werner (Kona) is on pace for his best-ever cyclocross season of his young professional career. photo: Jingle Cross Day 3, Werner's top 10 finish. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine
Kerry Werner (Kona) is on pace for his best-ever cyclocross season of his young professional career. Photo: Jingle Cross Day 3, Werner’s top 10 finish. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine