Kerry Werner

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.

Loo-vull Sluggin: Kerry Werner’s weekend of two halves

After a week of Airbnb’ing in Louisville (pronounced like you have a mouth full of jelly beans, hence my title), I was eager to get after racing. We stayed about two miles from the course and a lot of my rides went by the venue so I was checking out the stakes and walking through the park all week.

This race had been happening for a number of years closer to downtown and right off of the river at Eva Badman Park. However, with Louisville hosting CX Nationals next year, USAC didn’t want to chance a potential repeat of the flood in 2013 that effected the World Championships.

Friday the tape got put up and we went over to set up the tents and ride the course. The top section of the course, around the start finish area, was flat as a pancake and didn’t have much in the way of technical or defining sections. The bottom half was all set on a gradually sloping field. The course designers utilized a steeper section of the field, in front of a historic house on property, to add in the technical bits, which played the biggest role in the races. There was a tricky, when wet, off camber and ride out, followed by a set of stairs, and ending with a steep downhill with a tight 90º degree corner at the bottom. Rain on Friday night left these sections slick and challenging. Needless to say, the race was going to be a fun one. You know that when you are having a blast in pre-ride, trying to dial in sections.

5:30pm Saturday was go time. Therefore, there was a lot of time to kill all day. Luckily, Emily and Kermy Shields came to the race and brought the RV so venue time wasn’t too much of a drag.

Off the line I found myself to have a good start, slotted in to the top three. After the first lap, the gaps were formed and our group of five at the front had a gap. There were never and huge attacks but small gaps would open on the technical sections and eventually the group was whittled down. Stephen and Gage got away from Tobin and I three laps in when I missed a pedal after putting an outrigger out through a tight turn. The gap never got out of hand, Gage and Stephen were having their battle while Tobin and I lingered just 10-15 seconds back. Eventually, Stephen got away from Gage while Tobin and I ended up taking it to the line.

No one was riding the little off camber before the finish, the whole race and I knew that if Tobin came into me ahead of it riding I was going to immediately commit to running and try to pinch him out before the pavement. This exact thing happened as Tobin came into it with me on his wheel. I jumped off while he got hung up and then I managed to get around him and completely gut myself to hold on to third.

My cheeky little move…

What a day! Rounded out the podium with this cheeky little move but Tobin made me hurt so bad to keep it (@horsteng…). Also, locked down 2nd in the #uscupcx overall. Can’t thank my @konabikes squad enough. 🙌🏾 @shoaircg for funding and putting @rtrebon in charge of running the series. It turned out to be a just what we needed. – – – @rideshimano @clifbar @julbousa @jakroousa @donnelly_cycling @girocycling @wildernesstrailbikes @crankbrothers @lizardskinscycling @cts_trainright @tenspeedhero #konabikes #superjake #rideshimano #duraace #di2 #feedyouradventure #ridedonnelly #jakrooapparel #girosynth #wtb #crankbrothers #weridecb #dspbartape #lizardskinscycling #touchitfeelitloveit #ctsathlete #horstspikes #horstengineering #cxismydisco #fieldwrench

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This was the first time I felt the need to completely lay out on the ground after a bike race. I had, on many occasions, leaned over my bike using it as a support but this time not even that would suffice.

Stephen won, while Gage was 10-15 seconds down, while Tobin and I were another 10-15 seconds. Some real dicey racing and I was happy to end up 3rd.

That meant I held on to 2nd in the US Cup Overall! And I got to take home my first “big” check, which I still can’t get anyone to cash.

Sunday was more or less the same schedule except there was way less time to ride the course because of all the different Pan Am Champ categories.

Upon first inspection, I was really pumped to be out on file treads, Donnelly LAS. The course had tacked up so much that the ground was a soft and intensely grippy power suck in spots. Though this was not everyone’s impression. Most were on intermediate tires.

 

I had another good start and slotted into the front of the race, which quickly became another group of 5-6. Micheal van den Ham, Canadian National Champ, was riding really aggressively early on and even got a small gap with Tobin, but it came back.

Half way through the race Stephen had gotten away and the small gaps in the group were starting to take their toll on me. Tobin and MvD gapped me a little off on a slog of a climb and I couldn’t bring it back. This was when the pin was pulled and the grenade went off. Fernando came by me like I was standing still.

I managed to do some dirt sampling whilst trusting a soft “rut berm” with three to go but I held it together and shook it off in a second.

Luckily, we had a big gap before this happened so I took a lap to get my wits about me and then attempted to rally. Jamey Driscoll was behind me and I had just enough in the tank to hold him off for fifth.

One more lap and I may have pulled the plug on the whole thing. This was not uncommon for the day as many found themselves at their limit for too long, without realizing it. Yesterday’s race effort and the culmination of the physically demanding course were no doubt the cause of my detonation.

While I wasn’t happy with fifth in the Pan Am Champs race I was happy with the weekend as a whole. I managed to hold down 2nd place in the US Cup CX overall as well as come out with one podium.

Now it’s time for a weekend off. Kerm is having his race as a part of the NCCX in Salisbury, NC, which is always a fun course. Plus, this year, he is going to let me give my two cents in the layout. Watch out NCCX’ers, you’re in for a treat this year.

Then its up to NY for the Supercross Cup and another weekend off before the final C1 of the season in Tulsa, Ok. My last chance for a C1 win this season, unless I magically rise to Van Der Poel and Wout’s level by the time Worlds come around.