Kerry Werner

Kona’s Kerry Werner goes in to battle at the Charm City Slug Fest

I was checking the weather all week. The meteorologists where calling for 80% chance of rain on Sunday and I couldn’t have been happier. I was looking for something to break up the racing so I wouldn’t have to think so much during. However, then I saw the Charm City twitter update about the massive 21 stair flyover and thought that getting off the bike four times in one lap should help crack open some gaps.

Doug and I showed up Friday around noon, a little early as I couldn’t check out the course until 4:30. Doug got the compound ready and I went off for lunch with the Donnelly Tires crew. Ricoh Riott with Running Quail Productions was not only serving as our host house for the weekend but also doing the filming for a video coming out about the new Super Jake and how it raced at Charm City. He also brought Doug his favorite snacks…

After getting on course we headed downtown to a nice Korean joint for some authentic Bi Bim Bap (rice bowls).

Saturday morning was spent watching Euro CX racing and scarfing down pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup that Jamey Driscoll brought me from his recent visit home.

I got to the course around noon and was immediately greeted by the one and only David Carey. The kid with a bigger heart than I could ever hope to have. He is diagnosed with pre B acute lymphoblastic leukemia but certainly doesn’t let the disease own him. He is a fighter and loves to ride bikes so it was only natural that we get out for a half lap on the course.

The good news is that the intensity of his chemo treatment has thinned out to more intermittent visits, though, his energy levels are easily tapped out. His motivation is plentiful though and it sure was humbling to pedal the course with David knowing that while he could only physically do a half lap he wanted to be out there all day. He’ll get there.

After some fun in the sun on course, I chilled and got into the normal routine of things. The last five weekends have all been the same. Doug and I have even developed a formula for when I get on the trainer. I add 10min to the start time (4:15 at Charm so 4:25) then subtract 1 hr (3:25) and that is when I get on the trainer. This gives me 25-30min of warm up and gets me off the trainer at 20min before the race. Then I have 5min to go to the bathroom, do some leg swings and loosen up before spinning around the start grid. They always say 15min before for staging but they are always a little behind schedule for that.

The hat dropped and I found myself floundering to get in my pedal off the line. I was sitting around 10th once we got off the start straight and into the course. This wasn’t a huge deal, though not ideal, I was patient and moved up over the first 2 laps. With the course being so fast and dry there was no need to be at the front to catch early breaks. The first half of the race saw a big group of six or seven riders.

I found the front a few times but getting away was futile. The course had a few punchy bits but then there were some long stretches that would allow someone, who was gapped, to claw back onto the group. The last lap saw a group of four, Jeremy Powers leading, I was on his wheel, followed by Tobin, and then Stephen. I was happy to be sitting second wheel, though I was a little gassed from a dig I put in with two laps to go. That effort with two to go may have been the reason I ended up fourth.

With half a lap to go I was still sitting second wheel then after a stair section, Tobin dive bombed me on the inside and I tried to get him back on the next corner. I couldn’t get the spot back and got slowed down in the meantime so Stephen came around me and that is where I sat. Tobin went on to nip J-Pows, and Stephen hung on for third.

I was happy to be there at the end but a little chuffed at my lack of tactical prowess and inability to be patient. I didn’t have quite enough in the tank to be as aggressive as I needed to be at the end and I paid the price by watching the podium from my tent on the trainer instead of standing up there.

My parents came to the race because Baltimore is only 2.5 hrs from my Pa residence, Emily and I went out to eat with them in Hamden area, noodles, followed by ice cream at the Charmery, a staple in my recovery routine.

Sunday had the same schedule as Saturday. The rain had come down early in the morning but it was nowhere near as torrential as it needed to be. The course was so dusty and dry that every drop was soaked up and made the track faster. The dusty corners turned into Velcro by the time 4:15 rolled around, which always feels great to race but it also makes everyone a great bike driver.

I had a much better start today and found myself sitting third wheel for the first two laps as Stephen drove the pace. I stuck my nose out there for a bit and then Stephen got back on the front and Spencer Petrove weighed in as well. We were starting to crack Tobin a bit but he was fighting like hell. We would lap him by a few seconds and he would pull it right back on the long straight efforts.

This should have been my cue to take it easy and save some for the end of the race but, again, I was certain I could dislodge Tobin and then sit on while Hyde and Spencer took the reins.

This kind of happened. Spencer threw down after I put a dig in and gapped Tobin off the back of him and Hyde. I was on Tobin’s wheel though and was weary to jump around him right away because I didn’t want to bring him back into the mix, I was also gassed and reluctant to give it another go at the moment.

Thus, Spencer and Hyde stayed away then I put a little attack on Tobin with half a lap to go and rode in for 3rd. Tobin rode strong considering we were all gunning for him. But it was good to get him off the top step and off the podium.

Now for a little R&R! five weekends in a row sure makes the cross season go by fast but I am looking forward to, one, not race this weekend, and two get some consistent training in before the next few rounds of the US Cup CX.

Doug gets to fly home too. We will reconvene at DCCX in two weekends time then hit Cincy and Louisville for Pan Am Champs and the last couple rounds of the US Cup series.

 

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.

Kerry Werner’s World Cup Waterloo Sizzler

After Jingle Cross Doug and I were graciously invited to spend Monday-Wednesday in Chicago, hanging at the Tenspeed Hero Studio. Luke, of Tenspeed Hero showed us a rad time. We ate a good deal of great food (including the meat sweats at Publican, highly recommend the charcuterie) and saw a lot of the sights!

I also kicked off my modeling career and I am currently accepting agent applications…

tenspeedhero.com/

We left the Chicago skyline in the review and headed to the Trek HQ in Waterloo, WI on Thursday. After setting up at the venue I got a quickie sunset spin in followed by dinner at the host house.

Friday was a C2 at 3:30pm, undeniably the hottest part of the day. I had an unfavorable start and pitted halfway through the first lap. The course was so hard and bumpy my chain was bouncing everywhere, which coupled with the sprinting caused my front derailleur to twist.

I was further back than I wanted to be at this point and thus put some efforts in to bet me back up to a group fighting for 8th. This, however, was a mistake.

The explosive efforts in the heat took the same toll on me as previous experiences at altitude had. I was in the red early and quickly found myself going backwards with nothing much I could do but soft pedal. The heat, which was already causing elevated heart rate, should have cued me to change my racing style towards more conservative and consistency. However, I was peeved with my start and didn’t want to miss the early gaps so I made it happen all at once, which pushed me over the edge. I found that out about 3 laps in.

I was chuffed, new word I learned from Helen and the Brits which means frustrated, to DNF on my own accord. Though, after I started going backwards I immediately shifted focus to Sunday afternoon making more sense to save it for the world cup rather than finish for pride’s sake.

Doug and I headed home to a dinner of burgers and roasted veggies, provided by our hosts, can’t thank Peter and Connie enough. I even managed to beat Doug in pool though he put many more W’s on his record. So the day wasn’t a complete disappointment.

Saturday I got out on the World Cup course, which was much better than Friday’s C2 setup. A few more off camber sections, a mandatory run up, and some tricky nose wheelie turny bits!

I tried to minimize time outside so after riding we planned a big multi team movie night. Kingsman 2 came out so we invited a bunch of people and went to a swank movie theater with plush leather recliner seats, push button food/drink service, and air conditioning, for only $11!

Sunday I was feeling good and ready to rock. We took a lot of icy precautions, stuffed many panty hose with ice to put inside the skin suit for warm up and race time. Lots of ice cold water for pouring everywhere. Sitting in the start grid it looked like we were at a water park! Everyone doing their best to stay cool in the sweltering sun, hiding under umbrellas and passing around cold water to pour on ourselves.

I managed to sneak past a crash at the start and found myself come through the first lap in the mid 20’s. I worked my way up slowly and eventually was in 18, rallying with Stephen Hyde and creeping up on Tobin, Americans uniting for Euro domination.

However, about half way through I lost some traction on a corner that lead into the pit entrance. I corrected and didn’t unclip but this put my trajectory wider on the exit and I hooked the pit entrance pole with my bars. I should have ran backwards on course to enter the pit and get a new bike, my bars were “turnt!”. However, something about racing and always going forward caused the though to never cross my mind. I did a half a lap with my bars pointed at 2 o’clock until I got a new bike.

I would like to take this time to apologize to Stephen. He was on my wheel during this slip up and crashed as well. He managed to claw back into the group and even finished at the front of it. If only I would have pitted…

I lost some spots doing this and found myself in the midst of shattered souls and those determined to keep on fighting. Fragmented groups of 2 or so hanging on by the skin of their teeth rather than the big group of 5 or 6 I was in, which was focused on top 20 placing.

I held it together mentally and didn’t continue to go backwards. So I finished 26th. Not too shabby but I was confident I could have finished better, which nagged the back of my mind.

The last two World Cup weekends were awesome. It’s always great to have the world’s best come over and put on a clinic. I am also happy with where my fitness and psyche is coming out of it. Really looking forward to next weekend in Thompson, CT at the KMC Cross Fest where temps are expected to be high’s in the high 60’s! About time, still no rain though. But it is a start.

As always big thanks to Dougems for keeping things running

Jingle Jangle Christmas Cross in September – Kerry Werner on His Career Best World Cup Result

Words by Kerry Werner. Photos by Meg McMahon.

Jingle Cross. In September. You’re probably thinking exactly what everyone else is thinking, so here’s some background. The name Jingle Cross is used because in years past, before it was a World Cup, the race was held in the Midwest’s mind-numbingly cold Decembers. Due to its proximity to Christmas, the race’s mascot was the Grinch, who would ride around on course and hang out on Mount Krumpit heckling all those who dare tread up it. And this tradition continues.

Our story: Touch down in Chi town. Doug made the drive from PA with the new bikes built and ready to shred. He picked me up at the ORD and we finished the journey to Iowa City. We got to the venue with enough time to drop the trailer then go for a spin before settling into our host house.

Friday was the first race of the weekend! I woke up at 8am or so and then had about 12 hours to kill… this is where I struggle with night racing. I passed the time by picking up Emily at the Cedar Rapids airport and trying to take a nap, though my excitement for the coming race intervened and the attempt was a complete and utter failure.

With the pro race at 8:45pm I got to the venue a little too early, but I figured I would have gone crazier sitting in the house all day, staring at the ceiling. It was hot but I had the convenience of the Shields’ RV, which was strategically parked right next to the Kona compound.

Kona had quite the representation. It was Doug and I, Helen and Stefan, and the S&M Kona crew out of Portland, managed by the legendary Erik Tonkin, Kona CX badass from back in the day.

The course for Friday night’s C1 was a bit of a letdown. It seemed like they took all the bad parts from the past Jingle Cross races and put them into one course. The Iowa climate had been extremely dry and hot so the ground was hard as asphalt and thus jarred you around like you were riding on a highway rumble strip.

Once the whistle blew it seemed more tolerable. I managed to have a mediocre start and had to work my way up into around 12th or so. The Euros at the front set a hot pace early and my legs couldn’t turn over fast enough to match the acceleration. I could hold a decent power but the snap was not in my legs and the entire race was a struggle because of this. I was constantly staring at one to two bike length gaps, dangling off the back of groups and being lazy, trying to outbreak my opponents to make up for my lack of snap.

I suffered a flat at one of the best places to flat, right before the sand pit, which was maybe 150m from the pit zone. With a leaky front tire, I floated through the dry/loose sand pit effortlessly, if only the rest of the course would have been more conducive to a lower tire pressure.

I finished 17th, which wasn’t terrible but I knew I could do better. In 2016 I got 9th in the C1… I think I spent too much time on my feet during the day in the heat and this sapped some explosive twitch from my legs. I am not the best at sitting still so I will have to work on that for future night races.

It wasn’t hard to forget about my not so desirable result when I gave Emily a dozen cupcakes from a boutique “cupcakery” in town for her birthday, which was Thursday. I won best fiancé of the year award for that one.

Saturday I tried to minimize time in the heat and on my feet. I got to the course for some World Cup preview laps and to spend more time on the Super Jake, every day feeling more at home. After the course preview, I went home and chilled for a bit before coming back to the venue to cheer Emily on in night C2 race.

She had a terrible start but charged hard throughout the race and finished 7th, grabbing some points and my heart for continuing to fight all race.

Back to normal race time of 3:30pm on Sunday. The temps dropped after some rain came through Saturday night, which caused the course to tack up and eliminated the “moon dust” effect from Friday and Saturday. Mt. Krumpit was grippy and traction was plentiful to ride up the damn thing. This meant the only limiting factor was my legs.

I was third row and found myself to have a better start. I quickly found myself in a group of 5 or so fighting for 20th. After a few laps, our group was solidified as there was a lengthy gap in front of us to the next group and vice versa behind us.

About halfway through the race Wout van Aert, current world champion, flatted and came into the pit just in front of us. Trying to cause some separation in our group I jumped off the front and did my best to latch onto his wheel and get a bit of a pace.

I lasted about half a lap before I thought my internal organs might explode and my legs may seize. Regardless, I got the result I wanted and now it was a group of 3 of us for 19-22.

We made contact with Stephen Hyde, who after an amazing starting half suffered from the heat and came a bit unglued at the end of the race. He motioned for me to “Go!” as we came through 1 lap to go. I don’t second-guess advice from the likes of people like Stephen and dropped the hammer. The group spaced out then came back together for the final straight where I managed so summon some demons from within and win the sprint for 19th.

Gutted but elated I hung my head while they pulled the transponder from my back number then promptly looked for a bench because I was having trouble keeping it upright. It took a good 15min of seat time before I felt like I could stand up… While the resulting pain was quite uncomfortable I couldn’t have been happier to feel good enough to dig that deep. That is all you can ask for in a race like the World Cups. I managed to minimize mistakes and save enough for the end giving me my best World Cup result to date.

I can’t thank Doug enough for having the rigs as dialed as they were and being as thorough as a mechanic can be with the odds and ends. Next week is the Trek CXC Cup in Waterloo, Wi. C2 race Friday off Saturday and the 2nd World Cup of the season Sunday. Stay tuned.

Cross/Roads with Kerry Werner and the All New Kona Jake

Cross/Roads

Kona Pro cyclocross racer Kerry Werner knows that ‘cross is always coming. He sees his everyday training rides as an opportunity to get rad. In Cross/Roads, we take you into Kerry’s world prior to the 2018 cyclocross season. We apologize in advance if you find yourself digging out your cowbell after this one.













20 Years of Jake

The Jake has a long pedigree here at Kona – twenty years to be exact. It began as a race-bred cyclocross bike but was quickly identified by those who rode it as an excellent all-arounder. ‘Cross racing, commuting, backroad adventuring, the Jake is one of the most versatile bikes in the Kona lineup.

Kerry is riding the Major Jake, one of three all-new models in the Jake series. You can find detailed information on the new Jakes at Konaworld.com, and in our development story with technical video and photo details on our Innovation page.

Introducing the All New Kona Jake

Versatile, race-bred cyclocross bikes

‘Cross racing, commuting, backroad adventuring, the Jake is one of the most versatile bikes in the Kona lineup. The Jake has a long pedigree here at Kona – twenty years to be exact. It began as a race-bred cyclocross bike but was quickly identified by those who rode it as an excellent all-arounder.

Ground-Up Redesign

This year’s Jake sees a full redesign from the ground up, with new frames in both carbon and aluminum, a full carbon fork, Shimano E-thru axles, and flat mount hydraulic disc brakes on all three models in the line.

Kona Product Manager Joe Brown on the All New Kona Jake Series

Three New Jake Models

Born from the muddy trenches and the sand pits of the cyclocross World Cup, this year’s Jake series forges new territory with an all new carbon frame and fork. For two decades racers have known that the Jake is no average CX bike, with the unmistakable Kona ride built in. This year’s Jake is lighter all around, stiffer in the right places, and still retains the ride that has made it a world-class ‘cross bike that’s equally at home grinding gravel or laying down base miles.

Super Jake

Straight to the races with this one. An all new full carbon frame and fork with flat mount disc brakes, thru-axles front and rear, and fender mounts is the foundation for this year’s Jake series, and the Super Jake is the cream of the crop with a SRAM Force 1x drivetrain with hydraulic discs and Clement tubeless-ready wheels and tires. Whether your sights are set on the ‘cross podium or the all day gravel epic, the Super Jake will get you there.

Super Jake Specs

  • Frame Material: Kona Race Light Carbon
  • Wheels: Clement Ushuaia Wheelset Tubeless Ready
  • Fork: Kona Full Carbon Flat Mount CX Race Disc 100x12mm
  • Crankset: SRAM Force 1 X-Sync
  • Drivetrain: SRAM Force 1 11spd
  • Cockpit: Kona Road Light bar, Kona Road Deluxe stem and Kona Cork Tape
  • Brakes: SRAM Force 1 HRD
  • Tires: Clement MXP Tubeless Ready 700x33c
  • Saddle: WTB SL8 Pro

Major Jake

Our all new carbon ‘cross frame and fork with flat mount discs and thru-axles at both ends is the evolution of the Jake series’ storied lineage in the muddy trenches and sand pits of the CX World Cup. A Shimano 105 2×11 group with hydraulic brakes links up to tubeless-ready WTB rims and Clement tires. Major Jake. Take it racing and then ride it all year long.

Major Jake Specs

  • Frame Material: Kona Race Light Carbon
  • Wheels: WTB i19 Asym
  • Fork: Kona Full Carbon Flat Mount CX Race Disc 100x12mm
  • Crankset: Shimano RS500
  • Drivetrain: Shimano 105 11spd
  • Cockpit: Kona Road Light bar, Kona Road Deluxe stem and Kona Cork Tape
  • Brakes: Shimano 105 hydraulic flat mount
  • Tires: Clement MXP Tubeless Ready 700x33c
  • Saddle: WTB SL8 Pro

Jake the Snake

The Jake the Snake has long been our workhorse ‘cross bike, racing on Sunday and commuting on Monday. This year the Jake gets a brand new frame and fork with flat mount disc brakes, front and rear thru-axles, and internal cable routing, bringing modern touches to Kona’s race-ready all-surface bike, while rack and fender mounts keep that everyday versatility the Jake has come to be known for.

Jake the Snake Specs

  • Frame Material: Kona Race Light 6061 Aluminum Butted
  • Wheels: WTB STP i19
  • Fork: Kona Carbon Cross
  • Crankset: Shimano
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Tiagra 10spd
  • Cockpit: Kona Road bar and stem, Kona Cork Tape
  • Brakes: Shimano Hydraulic flat mount
  • Tires: Clement MXP 700x33c
  • Saddle: WTB Volt Sport

Cross/Roads with Kerry Werner

Kona Pro cyclocross racer Kerry Werner knows that ‘cross is always coming. He sees his everyday training rides as an opportunity to get rad. Watch the video below, and check out the full photo set from the Cross/Roads shoot here.

Kerry Werner highlights the versatility of the new Major Jake in Cross/Roads.

For all the details on the new Jakes, head over to Konaworld.com, and check out the technical details on the Innovation page.

Single Track Summer Camp – Kerry Werner Waxes Lyrical on The Transylvania Epic

The name implies fun in the sun, good times with friends, and an easy laid back attitude. I mean, they hand out beach balls and whoopee cushions on the podium!  However, the name does not glint even the slightest hint of the physical exhaustion, jarring rocks for miles, flats/mechanicals, wet roots, and climbs that hurt to think about, which lie ahead. While the later mentioned aspects of Transylvania epic don’t sound like joy they are crucial to balancing the week out. Plus, misery loves company and this year there were plenty of friends to share the long miles with. This picture depicts it best…

Cory Rimmer, Kona Grassroots rider, mean muggin with a SpongeBob popsicle

Last year was my first year of Transylvania Epic (TSE). I never had the pleasure to endure the 7 day version, which I honestly can’t imagine. All throughout my career as a junior racing in the Mid-Atlantic Super Series mountain bike races I would hear about this awesome/amazing race in the middle of Pa. Every year I would contemplate the possibilities. Though, I could never scrape the funds together or convince my parents to let me take a week off of high school.

It took 8 years but I finally managed to race last year and it was great! I ended up winning, which granted me a free entry this year and thus no excuse not to come back. Emily and I loaded up the RV and headed north!

DCIM110GOPRO

One thing that stands out about this race more than others are the promoters and their dedication to helping more kids get on bikes through NICA. Last year they implemented the first year of free entries by fundraising for PICL (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League). This meant instead of handing out comped entries to pros they we had to work for it. If you raised $1000 the first $500 went to the PICL, to grow the high school race scene, and the second $500 covered your entry fee. If you only got $5oo it all went to PICL and you had to pay for your entry. Talk about investing in the future and planting seeds! Mike Kuhn and Dave Pryor have developed a system which helps put about 10K into the local NICA chapter and generates a ton of talk, equally important. Link here to donate!

Race start was Thursday for us 5 day racers. The 3 day racers would take full advantage of the long Memorial Day weekend and not have to miss out on work. However, they would miss out on the enduro day, which was Friday.

Day one was a fast start to the race, traditionally dubbed the road stage, though the Wild Cat trail would easily change your perspective. We finished the 29 miles in just under 2hrs avging 16.4 mph! With rain the night before some of the century old rocks were slick as vaseline on glass, which created some gaps later in the race. I took full advantage of some course recon the day before and launched an attack late in the race, which granted me 20 sec, though Justin Lindine reeled that back to less than five by the finish. I won the stage but Justin won the enduro segments on the day, which gave him a 1min time bonus on GC. I got 2nd in enduro and got a 40 sec time bonus, so Justin was now up <20sec…Just like that the stage was set for 4 more days of racing. (each day there are 3-4 enduro segments, if you get top 3 in the enduro you get a time bonus on GC 1min, 40sec, 20sec)

Day 2 was meant for fun and fast. Enduro day! Only the cumulative time of all the enduro segments (5) were added to total GC time. That meant soft pedaling in between, snacks at the rest stops, and conversation rather than just breathing hard at each other. I slapped some beefy WTB Vigilantes tires on my Kona Hei Hei DL to give me some extra flat protection and more confidence when boring white knuckles. My fatty stanchioned MRP Ribbon 120mm for was my saving grace as I didn’t have a trail bike to hop on for the day. I got through with no problems and smooth runs but it was no match for Justin on a trail bike, who put 8 seconds into me.

Stage 2.1 was the go-karts after the finish… We didn’t get a time bonus but we did get some raffle tickets and became extremely close to cramping up in the go-karts.

Stage 3 would prove to be a humdinger of a day, a real bellwether. Tussy Ridge, 38miles, the longest, the gnarliest sections of rock pedaling, and equally demoralizing road climbs. I was feeling good and ready to do battle, though the wind was swept from my sails as I flatted at the bottom of the 2nd enduro section. I was following too close to the guy in front of me and wasn’t ready when a deep water bar popped out from behind his rear wheel. Two quick “PING PING” sounds came from my rims and a rear slow leak ensued. Unbeknownst to me the feed was a short pedal away from the bottom of the enduro, which would have aided in saving time lost due to wheel change or tube installation. However, I decided to do it trial side. I experienced some CO2 malfunctions and by the end of the day I would loose 14min to Justin. My head hung…

This put 1st out of reach and 2nd was 8 min up now. I went into stage 4 ready and willing to take no prisoners. My aggressive attitude was matched by great legs. I was putting the wood to the guys early and managed a gap. Justin and I lead into the first enduro where I wanted to stay pinned in order  to gap the current 2nd place GC contender, Kyle Trudeau. We had him on the ropes until… (cue low toned dramatic music) I flatted again. This came as a mental wall collapse. I felt good on the descent, not taking chances, but riding fast and smooth, I never felt my rim hit any rocks or bottom out my suspension. I would come to realize this was just dumb luck. I fixed the flat and throttled out for the next 1.5 hrs by myself. I felt great and was able to get time back on the guys that surpassed me but I fell to 5th in GC with 3rd was now 2:20 up on me going into stage 5. Justin would later reveal that he has flatted on a single rock on that descent “like 3 times… It is pointy sharp and pointing backwards in the trail.” Someone should go dig that thing up and move it. Or at least point it down hill.

Stage 5 was going to be relentless. I knew I had to go early again to have enough of the stage to make up time on 3rd in GC. Though, after the first bit of, slick AF, gradual rocky climb I knew I emptied the tank on stage 4 and my legs weren’t feeling quite as snappy. Soldiring on I attacked about 15miles in and gapped Aaron Snyder, 3rd in GC, and never looked back. Justin and Kyle Trudeau (1st and 2nd in GC) came with and then went by me on the climb. I never saw Justin again but went up the final climb pacing myself on Kyle. I crossed the line and immediately started to measure the time gap between me and Aaron. Of course, I glanced away from the clock for one second at which point he comes into view and I lose track of time. Now all I can do is wait and reassure myself I did it even though in the back of my mind I knew there was a chance I hadn’t. I cleaned up, drank a lot of coke, and ate a lot of pringles until the results were posted.

(Cue sigh of relief)… I managed 2:50 seconds, putting me in 3rd by 30 seconds. Not too shabby of a race after 15o miles of some of the rockets mtb’ing in the nation. Though, Aaron proclaimed we weren’t friends anymore with a smile on his face, I am sure that will pass.

My Kona compadre managed to muscle his way into 5th throughout the stage race. He said this was the first year he hasn’t flatted! Good legs and good luck held him steady throughout the week and he maintained 5th in GC and 5th in the Enduro overall piloting his Kona Hei Hei Dl.

Link to Dirtwire.tv interviews from the entire race and amazing highlight videos!

I had some unbelievable support this year. Big thanks to Lynn and Kerm for providing soigneur and tech zone services. Thanks to my mom and dad for coming up and watching, and a huge thanks to the TSE volunteer crew who pulled off another year without a hitch. I’ll be back next year for sure, with some thicker tires!

You may have thought that was the end but I had other plans, since we drove 8hrs from NC to PA. Bald Eagle State Forest is not only home to the TSE and great mountain biking but also some amazing dirt bike trails, which opened to the public on Friday of the race. That meant the Tuesday after Memorial Day we had the place to ourselves! Emily and I used this opportunity to get her out on her first trail ride.

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That evening I hooked up with Aaron Snyder and Gunnar Bergey for a few laps on the SMCC Enduro Trails. These were the same trials we raced a few enduro stages on during the race, however, instead of going down these descents on dirt bikes we were going up. As if my arms weren’t pumped up enough!

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Big thanks to Bruce Buckley and the TSE Media crew for great content all week!

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.