Kerry Werner

Bike Racing In The Land Of Maple Syrup

With CX season coming into view on the horizon Kerry thought it would be good prep to fit one last MTB race in before it’s all curly bars and skinnier tires. So he headed north, with his wife of course, and didn’t stop until he hit Vermont, home of the legendary North East Kingdom Trails and The VT3 Bike Race.

“After spending some time in BC and Washington state this summer I had encountered quite a bit of the lush green, coveted single track, big rock rolls, and dense forest the PNW was known for. It was cool to see that those kinds of trails exist on the east coast. The VT3 Bike Race claims to be “modeled after races like BC Bike Race”, which I found to be true. The race took us to a few different areas, which offered unique but awesome trails. From maple tapped forests to an enduro-specific mountain and finally fast, flowy berm-riddled woods. ”

 

Arriving in VT on Thursday he quickly settled in with the guys at Bicycle Express, a Kona dealer in Waterbury, VT. They took him out on the backyard trails for an evening spin to give Kerry a little taste of what was to come. Thus, the fire was lit.

The racing structure was this: Friday night TT, Saturday 24 mile xc race, Sunday 20 mile XC race. Kerry wasted no time in setting the pace high. He came out on top Friday night but only by a second with a local ripper, Cooper Willsey, hot on his tail.

Saturday’s course had a good bit of climbing and to give himself some breathing room going into Sunday Kerry tried to push the pace and create some separation on the hills but could only muster 22 seconds more on Coop.

Sunday, being flat and fast came down to a sprint finish. Cooper had pushed hard all race trying to lose Kerry on the tight, fast sweeping, single track, putting Kerry on the limit more than once. However, it wasn’t quite enough and the finish was decided by less than 1 bike length.

You can catch his vlog below to see what happened off the bike. He and his fellow racers spent their downtime hanging at the well known Craftsbury Outdoor Center, an Olympic ski and rowing development center.

From here out it is all about CX as the first race of the season kicks off the first weekend of September and Kerry has high hopes and big goals for the months to come.

Werner Hits US Mountain Bike Nationals

Three days after BC Bike Race ended Kerry took a “red eye” home to the east coast. He spent Tuesday being a zombie. On Wednesday he drove 5hrs to Snowshoe, WV for the 2018 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Nationals.

He spent the week watching sunsets from high up on Snowshoe Mountain, scoping out the course, and trying to catch up on sleep.

 

You can watch how it all played out on Kerry’s Vlog!

Next up for Kery is a cyclocross camp. He will be hosting a skills camp in the mountains of western NC to help those who are aware that #crossiscoming and want to get a jump on sharpening the axes!

Whiskey Dessert: A Kona Adventure Team Project


Do this after you’ve left home a few hundred times, kids: do something you’ve done many times before, and do it with a big twist. Such was our experience at the 15th Annual Whiskey Off Road. We’d done it collectively around thirty times. We’d been on the podium, we’d been around last place, we’d been somewhere in between, and so the race itself was nothing new. The twist was that we traveled to-and-from the event by mountain bike. Instead of the typical racer’s approach of arriving at the airport, renting a car and zipping to a comfy accommodation, we mapped out a route across 130 miles of urban sprawl into desert scrub into pine-forest mountains. We slept in the dirt. Then we did the race. And then we rode back. Instead of six or eight hours of total ride time during a typical race trip we logged over thirty. Indeed, we made the most of it, and it was remarkable. Here are some moments that stuck. Read more over at Pinkbike.





Kona Adventure Team Pedal Packs to Whiskey 50

The Kona Adventure Team congregated in Phoenix on Tuesday night. When the sun came up on Wednesday morning they loaded up their HEI HEI‘s with the bike packing bags and headed north west to Prescott, AZ.

The goal was to get out of the PHX sprawl ASAP and take the Black Canyon Trail north to Prescott. The unrelenting heat took a toll on the boys and they had to alter their plans from mostly single track to mostly gravel roads. With no water out in the desert, the choice was an obvious one, if they wanted to survive.

Kerry Werner will be posting up a 3 Vlog series on this mission. The first is up below…

The next two will be posted as the team navigates the Fat tire crit on Friday night, off day Saturday, racing the Whiskey 50 on Sunday, then riding back to PHX (on more single track) over the course of Monday- Tuesday. Laughs will be had and suffering will be felt, but it’s always more enjoyable amongst friends.

Pisgah Punishment: 5 Days of the Pisgah Stage Race

This is year 4 for me and there is an obvious reason why I keep coming back. At least It’s obvious to me and, I am sure, all the others that take the plunge into the Rhododendron covered, bench cut, old school woods of Pisgah. Over the course of 5 days you get to ride the most iconic single track the Ranger District of Pisgah has to offer. You can do it at pace or you can tour it. You can stop for snacks or blow right past the aid stations looking for new PR’s. Either way, everyone has FUN and this year was no exception. 

We all congregated for stage 0 on Monday night. Dinner and packet pick-up was followed by an intro into the first stage, what was expected, and thus the initial injection of butterflies/nerves.

From years passed, I knew that stage 1 was the fastest. Having Spencer Paxson in town for the race last year saw a new course record of about 1:45 for 24.7 miles and 4130’ of climbing. The competition was a little deeper this year so I was expecting the pace to be pushed even harder.

Sure enough, by the time we hit the first single track selection the lead group had dwindled down to 5 riders and the gaps were already wide open. I didn’t give enough thought to my positioning into the single track and got stuck behind some bobbles and then held up on the descent. 

Tristan Cowie got away early, which had Travis Livermon, Tristan Uhl (TEX), and I chasing the rest of the day. 

After stage 1, It was obvious that Tristan C. and Trav were on another fitness level. Therefore, I pushed aside my hopes of GC glory and settled in for the task of maintenance. 

Stage 2 started much the same way. Trav was on a mission early and Tristan C. was forced to join in. In the wake, Tex, Stephano, and I were stuck playing our own game. Tex and I separated ourselves from Stephano on Squirrel Gap and kept the pace high in hopes of staying ahead of Stephano for the enduro section at the end of the stage. 

This is when I consciously decided to go for the Enduro overall. After a second day of watching Tristan and Trav ride away, I knew I wasn’t going to put a dent in their time gap so I shifted perspective and decided that getting pitted on the enduro sections was my best card to play. 

I managed to go into first in the enduro overall after stage 2 and was excited to push the pace over stage 3 and 4, as they are some of my favorite trails in the forest. 

Stage 3 is dubbed the queen stage. The most climbing and the most technical climbing throughout the race. Heart rates surged early, as we started uphill right off the line. We ascended Black Mountain, which was built for going downhill, not up… and hit Buckhorn to Club gap and into the enduro section of the day, Avery Creek. 

By this time the gaps were big enough to land an airplane in so there wasn’t much concern about getting held up on the enduro. Thus, it was throttle wide open and smiles from ear to ear. 

I got 1st on the stage and extended my lead in the enduro to 30 seconds over Tex. However, stage 3 wasn’t all peaches. I did lose time to Stephano, cutting the time gap from 4:20 to 2min between 3rd and 4th in overall. That’s the difference between one mistake!

I was dreading stage 4 from the start of the week… The climb up Laurel Mtn is a 50 min+ grunt, at pace. That meant I needed to come into that climb with a big buffer to hold off the climbers and hope for a clean run on the enduro, which dropped off the top of Laurel and turned into Pilot Mt trail.

Stephano pushed the pace from the gun and I was forced to follow. He gapped me some but I gritted my teeth and kept it manageable to the point where I was able to pass him just as we hit Squirrel Gap. 

I pushed the pace on the narrow single track opening up a gap and hit the gravel climb up to Laurel mtn seeing red and on a mission. 

The next 1:15 was a struggle but it passed soon enough, at least looking back on it. I crested the top and held on as my Hei Hei bounced down the chunkiest of the descents that Pisgah has to offer. 

The top of Pilot is comprised of big massive rock slabs with tight loose switchbacks. The trail opens up halfway through but the rocks become smaller and they seem to multiply like bacteria in a public bathroom. The speeds get higher and the arm pump becomes a real issue. By the bottom, my arms were the limiting factor. I struggled to pull up over some curb sized water bar obstacles but pushed on through to the finish. 

I missed out on the enduro stage win by 5 seconds to another Kona mate on a Process. Understandable, Kona’s are the bike of choice when trying to fight the signs and symptoms Pisgah punishment. 

Going into stage 5 I had 1 min on the Enduro overall and a solid gap to 4th in the GC overall. The theme for stage 5 was smooth sailing, which is easier said than done when Farlow Gap is looming in the near future. 

I held my own pace up the 20 min + climb to the Farlow descent. The boys at the front were on fire and I was trying not to blow up. The enduro section was at the end of the day so I needed to save some matches. T. Cowie, who had second in the enduro knew the section much better than I. A fewslip-upss could cost me the top step. The enduro was the longest of all the others at 22 min and the most pedally, more like a super d. (do ya’ll remember those?)

After ripping down Farlow and rejoining the lead group, we ran into a cheer squad handing out bacon feeds, which really elevated my mood. Then I missed a bacon feed, which was the biggest bummer of the whole week.

The lead group split apart on the climb up to the back of Bracken. T. Cowie and I sat back and enjoyed a nice party pace into the enduro while the others traded blows. 

I was gassed pushing my way through that final enduro. It was obvious as Tristan put 20 seconds into me closing down the gap from 1st to 2nd in the overall to only 45 seconds. 

Wiping sweat from my brow I was all smiles, but even the muscles to help me smile were sore. After 5 days of pushing the pace with my comrades, I was feeling it. I hadn’t done any efforts prior to the race except for training races. It’s crazy to look back and think that I just got back from the Euorpean CX racing scene 2 months ago. 

A few beers were had to celebrate… 

My little dude came into town with Emily to check out the end of the race and explore Pisgah Forest. He even helped me look good on the podium.

We capped off the night with s’mores and passing out before 10pm. Until, next year. Cheers!

Vlogging His Way Through The Pisgah Stage Race

Kerry Werner of the Kona Pro Cross Team and Adventure Mountain Bike Team is taking on two new challenges this week. One, the Pisgah Stage Race. This will be his 4th time competing in the event, which is held in Brevard, NC and is comprised of 5 stages baring 140 miles of the most iconic trails in the area.

The second challenge is vlogging! A longtime contributor to the Kona Cog via typing blog entries Kerry is trying something new in hopes to of engaging with ya’ll a little bit more and give a more personal look into the life of a racer and what it’s like. Mostly showing that it isn’t all serious and it’s really fun!

Check out the first episode below and give him a follow on Instagram (@KerryW24) for updates the rest of the week as today is stage 1! Good luck Duder!

Birthday Bikepacking

What would do you like to do for your birthday? Kona Pro cross racer Kerry Werner is all about adventure. Yesterday was his 27th birthday, and to celebrate he is going on a mini 2-day bike packing trip from central North Carolina to Western North Carolina.

He will be pedaling the Kona Super Jake. After a great CX season domestic and abroad, Kerry is showing just how versatile this bike is by strapping some bike packing gear to it and saying, “say0nara” to the status quo for what an elite-level CX bike can do.

“I have some friends getting married just west of Asheville, NC. The whole family is going to be going and bringing mountain bikes fpre-weddingdding ride, so I figured, why not kill two birds with one stone? I’ll be riding down on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday evening my crew arrives and the weekend will resume per usual. I like to do these mini-adventures, especially during structured training, which I am just getting back into. These kinds of things help keep my mind fresh and ease the stress of having a regime to follow every day. I like a mix-up,” Werner said.

His route is just shy of 200mi with 15,000ft of climbing. There will be plenty of dirt/gravel roads along the way, scenic rivers, and hopefully lots of blue skies.

Godspeed, and happy birthday Kerry!

 

 

Kerry Werner’s Road to Bronze

Kona cyclocross racer Kerry Werner had a stellar cross season finishing 28th at the World Championships last weekend in the Netherlands. Prior to that race, he landed on the podium in third place at US Cyclocross National Championships in Reno, Nevada. BikeFlights.com put together an incredible video of Kerry’s prep for his bid at US Nationals. If you’re a fan of storytelling and getting to know the athletes, this is a great watch.

Cyclocross World Championships: Valkenburg, NL

After a very successful 2016-2017 cyclocross season Kerry Werner has raised the bar again this season stacking up 6 UCI wins, locking in his best UCI world ranking (25), and a handful more podiums including his 3rd place at the 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. This culmination of results has no doubt lead to his nomination to the USA Cycling World Champs team for this Sunday’s race in Valkenburg, Netherlands (located in the Limburg providence).

If you missed out on cyclocross nationals a few weekends back in Reno, NV you can catch the race reply here.

 

Or you can watch a condensed version… Kerry spent a few weeks in December and through nationals collaborating with Bikeflights.com, a sponsor providing great shipping rates for bikes, on a video and story to be released solely to increase the hype for World Champs. We think it did just that!

Kerry got on the Worlds course yesterday and had some things to say about it.

“The course is heavy and is going to require a lot of mental strength in addition to physical fitness. It’s fitting that this course will be the hardest course I have ridden all year, I mean it is World Champs. The ruts are already getting derailleur cage deep after only 2hrs of pre-ride. More rain is in the forecast before Sunday not to mention a few races and more pre-ride time. The biggest challenge is going to be trying to hold yourself together when you’re pinned and bleeding out of your eyes. You couple that with the difficulty of trying to nail a rut/ any line 2 feet off of someones rear wheel and you get a race where you have to be aware all the time not just on how hard you are going and how you’re body feels but also how to react when someone in front of you messes up or what lines to take next lap because the old ones are no good anymore.”

The course preview video below should put Kerry’s words into context.

The junior men, U23 women, and Elite women race Saturday. The u23 men and Elite men go off Sunday.

 

The schedule and live streams can be found here (if you have the NBC gold access, otherwise look into VPN browsing options to get around geo cached feeds).

Don’t forget to send Kerry and the whole USAC crew all the good vibes this weekend!

US Cyclocross Nationals is This Weekend!

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

It all comes down to this. After a long season of slogging through mud, snow, over obstacles, and navigating sand pits, Cyclocross Nationals will be held this weekend in Reno, Nevada. Kona’s Kerry Werner has had a strong season and is looking to punctuate his success with a victory by taking the coveted top step of the podium aboard his Super Jake.

The course isn’t terribly technical, according to Werner. “So far I have only seen pics/ video of the “off camber”, which seems to be the only glorified feature on Course. No rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week so the rain Reno got on Tuesday will likely have zero impact on Sunday’s race.”

His training and preparation seem to have served him well, though. “I am feeling good, though, there is always an element of uncertainty when you haven’t raced a UCI race in over 4 weeks,” he said. “I have spent the time since Hendersonville NCGP putting in a lot of solid training. I am confident in my fitness going into the weekend. It’s just a matter of managing stresses, wondering if my engine is revved up and ready for the intensity of a really hard race. You can never be sure of how altitude will affect you. Reno is at 4500 feet and the science claims the real detrimental effects take place at 5000+.”

Until race day, he’s going to be resting up, inspecting the course, and doing the mental preparation needed to go into Sunday’s race in the best possible state. “My plan is to play it cool all week. I’ll check out the Course tomorrow and Saturday and get a feel for things and try not to think too much about the race,” he said. “Stagnation is not good for me. Boredom puts my body in a lackadaisical state but obviously, I don’t want to be busy doing things and end up on my feet too much before Sunday. The name of the game from now until I wake up Sunday morning is to have fun and be cool like a cucumber.”

And his goal? “WIN!” he responded.

From all of us at Kona, Kerry, we wish you strong legs, smart racing, and are pulling for you!

Tulsa Tango

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Velonews Highlights Kerry Werner’s Rising Star

 

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

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