Rebecca Fahringer

Charm City CX: Two Podiums, Two Race Reports (Part 1- Rebecca Fahringer)

Last year was my first Charm City experience and I really enjoyed it. I loved that it was a power course with slogging climbs and swooping turns, and the crowd was energetic and very interactive. It was actually the race where the most people approached me with hellos, equipment questions, and congratulations. I am pleased to report that it was an overall positive vibe that was 100% replicated this year!

 

The weather was slated to be cooler than last year, but no rain was in the forecast. Despite this, there was quite a bit of mud on the course due to some broken water lines. The muddiest sections were along the pits before the (larger-than-last-year’s) flyover, down by a road crossing, and then coming back up to that road onto the finish straight. Despite these sections, the rest of the course was nice and tacky.

Course pre-ride on Friday we really thought it was going to be a file-tread weekend. The grass had been cut, everywhere but between the tape, and the wet spots were just wet grass. Some corners were slick, but we expected once the grass torn up the dirt would provide traction. Watching social media from the host house on Saturday morning, we were seeing the muddy bikes but were still skeptical. Showing up to the venue we saw the lines for the power washer were long, and after a lap of our own, we found out why. Those small sections of wet grass or little running streams turned into huge mud bogs. 

It was decided to be an All Terrane day to help for some grip on the grass off-camber turns and when dropping into and climbing out of the mud bogs. There was a little thought and discussion as to whether or not the mud near the pits was rideable or if it should be a run, but most decided to just run in. 

I had a front row call-up. The biggest contenders were Maghalie Rochette, Kaitie Keough, Ellen Nobel, Caroline Mani, and Sunny Gilbert. Lucky for me, Caroline was sick. Unlucky for me, all of the other women are very fit right now. The start for the race is a long climb that ends will a nice steep punch. I settled into the top five to seven wheels, knowing I wanted to be further up but telling myself to be patient and not make any stupid moves to crash anyone out.

Bad decision. 4th wheel was a rider that turned at about half of the speed of the front 3 and a huge gap opened up. I saw it happening but I couldn’t pass her and the other rider behind her in the turns without risking a crash. Then, I went to pass on a straight section before the mud bog, a risk I was willing to take, until Jamey Driscoll who was standing beside the course delivers this PSA “they moved the course! Course change! Stay right!”. Apparently, while we were on the line, the course got restaked, making us take a turn in to the mud. No worries, us women are used to completely new lines due to new course designs that aren’t discovered until our first lap.

I again wait to pass. I can’t remember when the pass happened, but there was a 13-second gap between me and 3rd at the end of the first lap. Another 6 seconds back to the blocking rider. That was a huge deficit. I was never within a direct sightline of Kaitie Keough, who was in 3rd dangling between myself and the front 2 riders.

Everyone was saying that I was closing the gap, but I never seemed to make ground on her, and the most I could do was try to stay away from Sunny Gilbert who was dangling a few seconds behind me. I succeeded and finished the race in a solid 4th, which was one spot better than last year.

Going into Day 2, once again following a win by Kerry, I was determined to make a podium – I knew I was capable. I took Kerry’s burnt pancakes as a sign from above that I could do it. The course was very similar, but the mud pits grew even larger yet. I didn’t make any equipment changes, except adding a bottle into my jersey pocket and an ice sock tucked behind my neck. My start was fantastic. I got my pedals, remembered to shift and pedal, and ended up 4th wheel entering the course. I made a pass to punch it into 3rd, and there was only a small gap up to 1st and 2nd.

I was STOKED! YES! I CAN RIDE IN THE FRONT GROUP!! I was so excited, that I rolled in the mud. Heading up into the pavement I was too stiff when I hit the ruts exiting a mud pit and just fell over. I quickly grabbed my bike, started running, and hopped on. I looked down and saw everything seemed to be in order with my drivetrain, so I got out of the pedals to catch Sunny who managed to pass me despite trying to take up a lot of space when I fell as to not get passed. I could not quite catch her wheel. I spent most of the race dangling in 4th.

I settled for the spot, saying at least I am tying with yesterday. But I looked back and saw Georgia Gould charging hard behind me, closing the gap. Crap. Georgia is retired. I would need a really good excuse to get beat by her (she is an incredible athlete and honestly totally capable of winning the freaking bike race, but, this is my only job). I used the motivation of not losing 4th to see I was actually closing in on Sunny. When I heard she was within 10 seconds I decided I could do it, and I was willing to lose 4th place trying.

I caught up and picked my moment to pass. Once I did, I could tell she was cracked, but I worked hard keeping the pace high and keeping my head in the game. And I crossed the line with my first UCI podium of the season – finally. But what is more, is that I crossed the line without any regrets and only one “what if”. “what if I didn’t crash on the first lap?” But we don’t ever race in a perfect world and rarely do cyclocrossers get clean races. I was stoked. I am going to keep this mental motivation through my week of race and training into DCCX, hoping that Cycleution Coaching helps me get in tip-top condition for the Pan-American Championships later this month. A podium there would mean the world to me! Or at least the continent.

Christmas Cross in September: Jingle Cross and UCI Cyclocross World Cup Round #2

After the Waterloo world cup, Rebecca and I headed three hours south-west to Iowa City. We had host housing just a 10min bike ride from the venue. In fact, you could see the lights of the Johnson County Fairgrounds just over the hill from the house. 

Even though there was racing on Friday night Rebecca and I skipped it to focus on Saturday’s world cup. That meant we could treat the weekend like a normal weekend, i.e. openers Friday, race Saturday and Sunday. The added bonus was that we got to watch the racing on Friday night. We only stuck around for the Women’s race though because they didn’t start until 7:45 and the Men went at 9! Have fun getting to sleep before 2am after racing that late.

Becca: Pre-riding on Saturday I had everything dialed, from tires to line choices. I even decided that I was going to play it by ear if I was going to ride or run the last two turns of the descent of Krumpit, but I was nailing the turns at the top.

Kerry: I got to go first! I always like when they switch up the order because I like to watch the women’s race. It’s always cool to check out a race after you have emptied the tank yourself. It’s also a bummer when you see other people have already raced and you are just getting warmed up on the trainer. Though I have gotten used to it. 

I was poised for a good start on Saturday but only managed to hold my position. I came through the first lap in 20th or so then no matter how hard I tried I stayed there. For some reason, I was missing the ability to go into the red. I couldn’t wind up into that extra gear when small gaps were closing in front of me. I only packed the diesel motor and had one speed. 

Granted, it wasn’t a terrible speed but I missed out on a group early for 17th then the last three laps Gage Hecht was a stone’s throw in front of me, down to three seconds at times. For some reason, I just couldn’t close it. A part of me thinks it was my subconscious holding me back saying, “Woah buddy, easy partner, don’t dig too deep. You’ll be too gassed to hit this super technical section.”

So I ended up 22nd. That’s two world cups in a row I landed 22nd. It isn’t a terrible race but I felt like I was capable of better. I had gotten 19th last year and felt like a top 20 was in my grasp but was ultimately going for 15th. 

Anyway, I grabbed some hot chocolate and a few of my friend’s mom’s famous cookies and watched the women’s race.

Becca: My start was great, until halfway down the start straight the fencing forces a zig-zag and the riders ahead of me are braking so heavily that they lock up their wheels. I sit up. Losing ground despite no crashes happening, I charge forward, into the mud pit before the first turn. A crash. I go wide. Luckily I go clear but I have lost more spots (I am only ahead of those who hit the deck it seems). I pass when I can and am patient when I cant. Then we get to the descent of Mt. Krumpit, and people are dismounting before the tricky turns, forcing me to as well. As I run I figure out why – the rain has turned the grass and clay-rich soil to ice. It is an awkward scramble to the bottom. I keep passing groups until I find myself into the teens – right where I want to be. Another run-up and a quick mount with our feet full of mud. A rider goes down on an off-camber and I can do nothing but lay the bike down and slide into them instead of running them over (was that an option? Not worth the risk of hurting another person or myself if you ask me). Losing a few spots. The next lap shows me picking off even more riders, but also losing a few spots in the tougher climbs. I just couldn’t run any faster.

That same off-camber that I laid it down on in lap one has a large sweeping turn afterward, and in lap 2 I decided to check my speed right as I entered, and it sent me into a solid 200-foot slide, dropping my bike and sliding on my hip. I actually slid about as fast as I would have ridden, so no time was lost. But when I picked my bike up, I noticed my chain had dropped. Remembering last race, I was very careful at trying to get it back on and checking the full drivetrain, making sure I wasn’t going to make matters worse by riding. Maybe my check was too thorough because I could have pedaled it back on but I had already lost precious spots and time. I chased hard and caught a few riders, but we were only racing for 4 laps so I didn’t have much time left.

Despite the short race (40 minutes for the winner), I was so cracked by the last lap that I was making sloppy mistakes on the slick runs, and for every spot I gained I lost 2 to riders who were more careful. But that is the toll a slick course can take – these conditions require more than skill, but also patience. I crossed the line in 21st. Again not what I was hoping for, but at least beating Kerry.

It was back to the normal routine, Women racing prior to the Men on Sunday…

Becca: The result left me hungry in the C1, but also exhausted. The officials didn’t have the UCI course set up when I went out to preride, and I didn’t have the gumption to go out a second time when half of the course was a walk through thick mud. Kerry gave me the intel on the course changes and I felt confident in my choice to rest the legs until race time.

I had another acceptable start and rode an aggressive 1st lap, making great passes and even blocking when I could. Luckily we were only going up Mt. Krumpit once per lap, but unfortunately, it was the much harder way up – the run. The top of the run was where they changed the course for the C1, adding a few turns before routing us to the descent. I was prepared for a slight incline at the top when we remounted, but because I didn’t preride I didn’t realize it was a “be in your easiest gear” type of incline.

I hop on, and even midway through my cassette and in my little ring I stand on the pedal and go nowhere. Not your typical hero-type, I get off the bike and air-shift into my 30 tooth cog before hopping back on and spinning (lol jk slogging heavily) to the top. I lost a lot of spots doing that, but it was the only way. I charged hard, and eventually found myself in 7th, clawing towards 6th. But for every inch I gained on the flats and downhills, I lost 2 in the steep run-up to the tall and long-legged Sunny Gilbert. I couldn’t close the gap. And my legs were so shot from the day prior that I lost the battle for 7th to Clara Honsinger and ended up 8th. I know I left it all out there on Sunday, so I am happy with the ride despite some very rookie mistakes (like not pre-riding!).

Kerry: I have adopted a motto: Sunday’s are for sending! It stems from the idea behind a usual weekend in the US where there is a C1 Saturday race and C2 Sunday. So C1’s I play the game and do everything possible to go for the win. Sit in, play it smart, really watch the other dudes, find flaws, etc. Those races there are more points up for grabs and more money. Then Sunday, I have decided just to go for it. Send attacks really focus on pushing the pace instead of sitting in and saving myself for the win. We only get to count our 8 best C2 race’s points towards our overall UCI point total. I am hoping I can get enough good C2’s that even if I botch a few because of this method I’ll still be ok. 

So with a front row call up I decided to go for the holeshot, then settle in and see what happens. The top guys from the world cup decided to sit out Sunday’s race but there were still a few guys there to keep things spicy. 

I damn near hole shotted and then kept going. I lead some on the first lap, tried to breathe and tell myself to just ride smooth. The running up Mt. Krumpit was killing me. I managed the first half of the race and was in the running for the final podium spot until the wheels started coming off. I couldn’t hold the Euro’s pace up the 1min climb and I started making small mistakes that caused gaps to form with 3 laps to go. From there I put my head down and brought it in for 6th. 

I was truly pumped with the ride. The conditions were just right and racing with those guys for the first half of the race was a real learning experience and confidence booster. Those guys, Boroè , Thijs Aerts, Jim Aernouts, Wouters, and Cleppe are top 20 and top 10 world cup racers. So I was happy to hang with them as long as I did. Baby steps. 

Becca: Charm City in Baltimore is up next – and I am pumped. Last year was my first time to the race, and this year I am excited to see how I stack up.

Waterloo Cyclocross World Cup Round #1

Here is the play by play taken from both Kerry and Rebecca’s point of view (POV)

Kerry: After arriving Thursday at noon Becca picked me up at the Madison airport (the only flight I will take this year besides heading overseas) and we headed straight for the course. Mark and Kerm were already there and had the tents set up. Mark had his afternoon cut out for him as he was going over my handy work.

I had to build up Becca’s bikes the previous week so that they would be close to ready to ride when we arrived on Thursday afternoon. Rather then her showing up to blank frames that needed completely outfitted. 

I promptly found my dude, Eric Thompson, and we headed out on the road for some efforts because the course wasn’t set up completely and there were too many people burning in lines. 

All weekend was to be spent at the Dettmer’s. I met Connie and Peter two years ago after getting set up with the from the race director. This was the 3rd year of them hosting me and as always, I was excited. They are awesome people, Connie knows how to make a mean pumpkin pie and Peter can crank out an Old Fashioned faster then most mechanics can swap a wheel in the pit.

Friday morning was race morning. It wasn’t a huge priority for me. I was looking forward to it to test my self against the majority of Sunday’s World Cup field. However, it proved to be more of an opener. I hadn’t gone hard since last Saturday’s Nittany CX, then I spent the week going easy to recover from training and racing. So my engine was running a little cool.

I finished up 18th without too much concern. I felt like I was riding sluggishly so I focused on keeping a cool head for Saturday’s rest day. Besides Connie and Peter had to show us the hot spot in Sun Prairie to have pizza, it was worth it!

Becca: I was so close to being ready for the world cup in Iowa. So close. And then, I took a day off the Monday before and my body responded with a seized up lower back. Is it because my racing age is 30? Am I secretly a Greek Goddess suffering from hubris? Or maybe it is the world’s way of saying that I am wasting my time doing yoga and stretching because I am going to end up in pain anyway. For whatever reason, it happened. Despite not doing any efforts leading up to the race, it was still stiff and painful for the C2 on Friday. I didn’t want to start, but I was in such a funk: hurt back, bad attitude, that I decided I had to race just to clear my system. Unable to do any real “opening” efforts before the race, I started slow, and my legs felt like they were full of wet cotton until nearly my last half lap.

My result and performance on Friday did not phase me, because a lot of us did not approach it as a race, but instead, an opener for the big show on Sunday. I was still optimistic. But the car ride back to our host house on Friday even proved to be too much, and I was hardly able to pull my socks on before dinner. I was devastated. But, with the help of a network of friends, google, and some understanding people, I got some last-minute appointments for a chiropractor and acupuncture on Saturday. Between those treatments and some easy laps where I focused on some skills, I was feeling prepared for Sunday’s world cup.

Kerry: Saturday we headed to the course to check out the world cup track. All the “pro only” lines were added in for a specific UCI only pre ride time. The new lines were an off camber, a run up, and one punchy climb. It added some spice to a otherwise pretty mellow track. 

The temps were steadily staying in the high 60’s and low 70’s, which was a welcomed change from last year’s 90ºF and humidity. The forecast was showing no ice socks for Sunday’s showdown. 

During Sunday morning’s warm up I was feeling much better and looking forward to heading into battle. I stole the last spot on the 2nd row and used it to my advantage. 

I had a great start, slotting into 15th. Just taking notes…

I stayed there for the first 3 laps, but that effort caught up with me. I started to fade through the middle of the race. I went back to 16, then 19 and back to 24 before finding my group battling for a 21st place spot. 

I kept trying to recover and maintain contact with the group. I came around the last two laps and was able to finish 22nd.

I was unbelievably appreciative of the crowds. They carried me through the middle of that race and kept me in it mentally when I was on the edge of shutting down. 

While sending it for the first couple of laps lead me to fade, it had to be done. You aren’t going to make time up on the guys at the front of the race. So I aimed to put work in early, establish a good start, and hold on for dear life. My hope is that if I can manage to do that enough, eventually I will fight off the fade and stay up there. If you throw yourself at the wall enough times, eventually something will stick!

Becca: Once again, on Sunday, the schedule was flipped and women were racing after the men. We had so much course time available I wasn’t even sure what to do with myself! It was great to be able to see Kerry and the other pros take some good lines in prep for my own choices. For many, it was a file tread day, but I chose Maxxis All Terranes for some bite in the steep off-cambers and in the event there was some dust or debris build-up through the turns. I was happy with my choice because the course was a mix of smooth pavement-like dirt ruts and loose gravel-like soil. Traction was not a big worry.

I was happy with my start – I didn’t fight too hard but I sure didn’t go backwards like I could have. The first lap was the typical World Cup fight, and it took well into the lap before anyone even started to settle. I made a few good passes and smart decisions, gaining me 5 spots at a time. I was climbing up.

As I worked to pick off groups and riders, I came up behind a group going into the steep off-camber. I went for the same pass I made in lap 1, but what I did not anticipate was Helen Wyman sticking her leg out (also known as dog pissing). I could have just hit the leg, but my instincts made me grab brake, and I immediately slid out on the steep slope. CRAP! I scrambled to the bottom and around the corner and up. I heard the announcer say I was down. My chain had dropped between my cassette and my wheel. I pull it out. I go to get on. It drops again. UGH I forget to shift to move my derailleur away from the wheel. When I dig it out again I shift and see my cage is at way too steep and angle. Going to need to pit. Crap. But the race was away from me. The group I was chasing was lost with the initial mistake. More people passed me during my chain re-set. And even more passed when I had to take a second pass. 

I am frustrated that I went down. I don’t regret the pass, but I do regret how I reacted. The crash sucks, obviously, but what sucked more was that I wasn’t calm enough to go through all of the steps to fix it. I could have made up more spots if I would have shifted up the first time.

I was able to chase down only a few people after that incident. The gaps ahead of me were so big, they weren’t even within sight, and it was hard to channel the fight to go and get them. The only thing driving me was knowing that I only had 2 more people pass to tie Kerry on the day – but somehow even that didn’t push me into the pain cave. 

I ended up 24th, which is the same place I ended up last year. Perhaps this means I am geared up for another 15th at Jingle Cross, but hopefully I’ll end up a bit higher!

Kerry: After the race, I cleaned up and got to watch the women’s race, which was a nice role change. The Trek CX Cup and World Cup weekend is a great opportunity for women in the sport. The organizers are leaders in racing equality by being the only world cup to offer equal world cup pay. The women’s racing has been proven to put on one hell of a show, based on last season, which was cemented after this past weekend’s battle between Ellen Noble and Marianne Vos.

After the racing, we packed up the trailer and headed to Sun Prairie for old fashioneds and pumpkin pie at Peter and Connie’s. What a great way to end a great weekend and kick off the first few days of fall. 

The stoke is high heading into Iowa and I am looking forward to flexing on Mt Krumpit and a course I feel suits me more so then the Trek track. Onwards and upwards! Until then the Super Jakes need a brake… 

 

Kerry’s Vlog 17: One of the best yet! Give it a watch!

The Road To The World Cups

After a satisfactory weekend last weekend in Rochester I was really motivated to put some solid training in this week. I am not a guy who likes to rest on my laurels. Racing is good and really gets the high end revved up, however, by racing, resting, and repeating weekend after weekend it is often hard to build fitness and work on specific things. So Jim Lehman, my coach, and I decided that this week and into Nittany Lion Cyclocross this weekend was going to be part of a training block. The race was only 45min from my house and my family was pumped to watch me race close to home so I had to include it.

I put two good days of intervals in on Wednesday and Thursday, some longer, over-under intervals to be exact (this is where you spend some time at threshold then some time over then back down then back up and you do this throughout the whole interval). I was feeling good, but those days were hard so I had my doubts going into the weekend.

When I showed up to the race on Saturday I discovered that I was leading the ProCX series, which really isn’t a series because it is literally every race on the calendar, but I guess it is still something. This didn’t really add any pressure to my situation, because the “series” was never part of my season goals, but oddly enough it made me want to win just that little bit more and gave me a new focus for the day. Full “series” calendar and standings found here.

After some course laps I was pretty pumped because it wasn’t going to be a dry, dusty, bumpy, crit race like it had been in years past. We had a decent amount of rain off and on all week and the sun never really came out so the ground was saturated. The amateur races earlier in the day cleared off all the grass and thus the afternoon races were left with a nice line of moist, sometimes slick, sometimes velcro, dirt/mud. 

I decided to run an aggressive tire up front (Maxxis All Terrane) after Alex Ryan got in my head, so I could really push in the corners. Then I ran a pretty mellow mid in the back (Maxxis Raze) because there was some suction like sections on the course and I didn’t want to have all the resistance a double All Terrane set up would have brought. 

I had a good start and led the whole first lap. Right at the end of the lap, there was an off camber that was at a low point in a field so it was extremely muddy. It was possible to ride but challenging and even harder when you came into it gassed or under pressure. I knew that would be a crucial spot later in the race if you were trying to shake an opponent or trying to maintain a gap. 

A group of three of us separated ourselves from the field by the end of the first lap. We all took turns on lap two then I decided to put pressure on Curits White and Matthieu Bolo (a Frenchman) in the corners. I was feeling really confident in the the turny bits and was hoping a little pressure would start to open up some cracks so that the race wouldn’t come down to a sprint. 

It worked and I gapped the two. Curtis was swinging a leg over his CX bike for the first time this season and it showed he was a little rusty. Normally, a move like what I pulled wouldn’t have worked like it did. 

 

I pulled away for a lap until Matthieu started to pull up to me. I kept making mistakes in the muddy off camber at the end of the lap. I was struggling to find the line then when I found it I was struggling to execute. Regardless, Matthieu caught me and I was pleased. I didn’t want to do the last 6 laps of the race off the front by myself.

We worked together to widen our gap and I started to pick apart his riding style. He was strong physically but I had him on the skill part. So again, with 2  laps to go, I put pressure on and a gap opened up. I kept it on through the first half of the lap and had 7 seconds. With him not being able to see my lines in the corners I exploited his weakness and expanded on my gap at the start of the last lap, then kept the pressure on to finish the race.

I was pumped on the W, especially after training hard through the week. It was great to win at home and put on a show for my family too. Sherman was pumped with his first UCI podium top step appearance too.

It was Emily’s birthday on Friday so we all went to my Aunt and Uncle’s house after the race to have cake and celebrate. A surprising number of my friends showed up to race or cheer on Emily and I so we had quite the crew over for the post-race party. It was a great ending to a good day.

I had planned all along to not race Sunday. This is the third weekend of the race season and the world cups are on the horizon. I wanted to get the Saturday effort in as a high-intensity workout without having the mental strain of gearing up for a workout. However, but doing both days on top of the training I did earlier in the week could have dug a hole I may not have been able to climb out of before next weekend’s Waterloo World Cup. 

So I opted for a nice endurance ride from my house to the race, which was awesome. I have done similar rides before, but usually around Thanksgiving time as we usually do Thanksgiving at my, aforementioned, aunt and uncle’s house. However, getting to do the ride in the sunny warm air of September rather than the frigid, crisp, often wet air of late November, was a treat. 

All back roads, farm roads, little cars on a Sunday morning. It was just what I needed after being focused for the last couple days. I listened to some good tunes and just pedaled. I rarely looked at my GPS unit for anything other than turn by turn directions, it was choice.

I got to the race in time to watch Em crush and take pictures, which I wish I could do more of. Photography is hard and watching Bruce Buckley trod around course, profusely sweating, hauling 20-30lbs of camera gear, really put that into perspective. Not to mention the difficulty in framing shots, getting from one side of the course to another, and shooting all the unique sections. Bruce said he lays out a logistics plan on paper so he can know with certainty how he can get from a to b to c and back to a. There is more to it then you think.

The focus this week is rest and then get opened up. I leave Thursday for Madison, WI. Rebecca will meet me there and then we will dominate Waterloo. Rebecca will finally be on board her new Super Jakes and thus the final pieces of the Kona- Maxxis- Shimano CX team are complete. 

All race photos Bruce Buckley @bruce_buckley

Kerry Werner Keeps Momentum Rolling with Two Podium Finishes at Rochchester

The Rochester race weekend has been the traditional season opener for many years past. This year a few racers, Becca and Kerry included, decided to start with Roanoke last weekend (last weeks blog link) but that doesn’t change the nerves as this was the first C1. Thus, Rochesert was about gritting their teeth against some stiffer competition before heading into the world cups. 

Becca and Kerry drove to Rochester the Monday after Roanoke. They spent the week at a host house in Victor, who Kerry has developed a strong relationship with over the past three years racing at Rochester. Finally getting the race rigs together, check out Kerry’s bike check video.

Wednesday the gang got out to the local  YMCA camp to get some mid-week efforts in as well as scope out some different stations for Thursday nights CX clinic.

The YMCA camp hosts a weekly cyclocross clinic in the late summer/early fall thanks to some GVCC (Genesee Valley Cycling Club) enthusiasts. Becca and Kerry both participated as coaches alongside Tobin Ortenblad and Emily Shields. It’s all about giving back especially to the young guns. It is also inspiring as Kerry notes the CX community is strong in the Rochester area, “There are a ton of 10-16-year-olds in the Rochester area that are just so damn good! These kids can hop barriers, understand how to get on and off the bike, and are always looking for a challenge when on two wheels. It left us coaches wondering how good we would be if we had been exposed to the sport when we were that young.” 

There were more than just juniors at the clinic as well, once 120 people decided to show up. Becca describes it like this, “Imagine a sea of 100 cats in a laser light show and you had to keep track of 15 specific ones. Seriously, though excited, they were focused, attentive, and really seemed to want to learn and progress.”

Becca then ran a Friday clinic at the Rochester Cyclocross venue, walking people through the different obstacles on the course and giving them tips of the trade. Covering race day prep, confidence boosting, and a few deadlifts picking up fallen participants. Sometimes you gotta risk it for the biscuit. 

Saturday is race day and Becca kicked it off first for the Kona Maxxis Shimano CX Team. She didn’t have the most ideal start and after finding herself back in the high teens she remembered she had to pedal… harder. After regaining focus she clawed her way back into 4th but burned a few matches doing so and thus started to make some small mistakes that were, in turn, big mistakes at the end of the race, slipping in dusty corners, catching fences, bending rear hangers. 

Though disappointed by having a mechanical play a roll two weekends in a row Becca realizes, “I can take some time to remind myself that these mistakes are user-error and fixable, I’m still not set up with my season’s gear, I’m still working out my own rhythms, and that it is better that these things happen now rather than later.”

Kerry went next and had his head set on the whole shot. There was a super tight off camber section less than 1min from the start and being at the front could mean saving a match to maintain the gaps. 

He got the coveted whole shot, which set him up to stay in the front group of 4. They dangled off the front until about halfway through the race when they became solidly out ahead. Then the real games began. 

Kerry describes the race like this, “Lance Haidet was yo-yoing at this point and Gage was riding well but struggling a little in the tech bits. I knew Stephen was the guy to watch yet I managed to put myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Stephen put pressure on in the woods and Gage was gaped a bit. He was riding well though, and I figured we could bring Stephen back but after pulling through I looked back and saw Gage gapped. I couldn’t get to Stephen alone so it was three laps solo. I had just enough in the tank to hold off a rallying Tobin Ortenblad and Jack Kisseberth to hold on to 2nd.” 

Though it wasn’t a win it was definitely a good result for the first C1 of the season where UCI points are higher and so is the cash payout. 

On to Sunday, which was one classification lower. A C1 gives out UCI points 15 deep and has about 3X the payout of a C2. C2’s only give out UCI points to the top ten and because there are more of these throughout the season only a riders 8 best C2’s count towards UCI ranking. 

Becca was fired up for Sunday and it showed as she got off the line well and didn’t settle on the first lap. She rode the majority of the race in 4th and did a lot of work chasing the podium. She was more consistent throughout the race by running some sections that were touch and go in Saturday’s race. No mechanicals but sticking her nose in the wind for a good portion of the race meant a lack of fuel left in the tank towards the end of the race and she lost two spots falling back to 6.

Recollecting, Becca says, “It’s kind of funny how a bad start and a great start can lead me to the same place. You would think if I could start so far back and chase to 6th that I could start in 6th and chase to the win. But anyone who races bikes knows that is never the case. Maybe chasing so hard on Saturday burned me out for Sunday and is why I lost those 2 spots. Maybe that mental edge of wanting revenge allowed me to start well on Sunday. I am sure the two results are tied together. Clearly, I am riding at a level that is very consistent and repeatable for me, and despite what happens I am remembering skills and strengths to fight through.” 

Kerry didn’t have such good luck on the start. He pulled out of his right pedal off the line and slotted in around 10th. A few changes to the course lead to an even punchier race, which quickly dissolved into small groups. The front group was 4 again, Jeremy Power, Hyde, Hecht, and Werner. The lower category C2 meant there wasn’t as much on the line and it showed. There was no reservation in the front group as blow after blow was thrown. 

Kerry was gassed but settled into the back of the group, not where you want to be at the end of the race. Hecht clipped a pedal on the off camber with 2 to go and caused a separation that Kerry could not bring back as Powers and Hyde traded turns at the front. 

Reflecting, Kerry realizes his mistake. “Luckily, I was able to keep Gage on the back burner after his mistake. I knew I shouldn’t have been on the back but Gage was riding strong and I didn’t see him making a mistake. I was definitely feeling fatigued from Saturday’s effort but really wanted two podiums on the weekend. So it was head down and a focus on smooth rather than fast in the woods.”

The next 2 weeks will involve Kerry building up Becca’s new Kona Super Jakes with the sweet Shimano Dura Ace group sets – with those sweet Ultegra RX Di2 clutch rear derailleurs. Becca will be pushing the limits of her endurance and skills and then hitting the recovery hard leading into the world cups. 

She says, “Remember, the Trek UCI World Cup pays women equally, and that is just huge. So for this Kona woman, it would mean so much to be on top form and performing my best in order to respect everything about the cycling community and their support of me and everyone else out there chasing dreams, working hard, and pushing limits.”

Check out Kerry’s vlog for some great in race footage (Thank you Cory Kuhns!) and some behind the scenes hoverboarding, pancake making, and donut eating!

 

 

Kerry Werner Doubles Down at Cyclocross Season Opener

Something to note about CX season is that cyclocross Nationals has been moved from January to the second weekend in December (Louisville, Ky). Thus, the season has been condensed. It started this past weekend in Roanoke, VA at a community park, Fallon Park, and as you may guess it was hot.

In reality, there is a UCI race every weekend from the first weekend in September until Nationals in December with the only break in the schedule being Thanksgiving weekend. The Kona crew will not be racing all those races. That would be ludicrous. They have hand picked a bunch of racing that allows a few breaks here and there while still hitting some of the best and biggest races on the calendar. Their schedule is posted at the bottom of this post.

As you may have read, Rebecca Fahringer is joining Kerry Werner for the Kona-Maxxis-Shimano CX team this year. If you haven’t read about the update click here.

Kerry: ” With the start of CX being one week earlier then last year we were left scrambling the week before Go Cross to get things together. I had frames, Becca’s were still on a boat, I got Shimano wheels and our new Maxxis tires arrived Monday before the race. The rest of our Shimano order was running a little late and didn’t show up until Thursday before the race. Therefore, We were both stuck running last year’s frames, which is fine. The old stallions had been holding up just fine through the training sessions at my local park. So Thursday when Becca flew into NC they spent the afternoon loading the trailer with gobs of parts still in boxes and plastic.

Kerry: “We hired Alex Jerome, a mechanic from Brevard, NC to come help us out for the Roanoke weekend. I am so glad we did. He rocked it. He handled building frames and helping us with race prep. He will potentially be on board full time for the second half of the season. Becca and I both hope it works out, as he is a rad guy who fits into the team dynamic nicely, and knows his way around a bicycle.”

Becca: “We arrived in Roanoke on Friday in order to do some tire testing for Maxxis. This is my second year riding Maxxis tires, and the first time I had been asked to partake in testing. Whether or not they wanted me to help test tires or if they wanted Kerry to and I just happened to show up is beside the point. We were testing some treads set up tubeless, so I was right at home after the past two years racing on tubeless tires. It was a great experience, and something I have always wanted to do. But it was also unfortunate for the timing, because, I was so anxious about riding too much in the heat the day before my first race that I had a hard time concentrating on the task. In addition, this year I am racing Maxxis tubulars and I hadn’t ridden tubulars in over two years. But it was a good chance to do some laps on the course.

Speaking of tires, we were damn sure it was a file-tread weekend. Knowing that, I had my files mounted up for my pre-ride on Saturday. Right before I went out, the sky darkened and started dropping some precipitation. It was raining on the open 1/2/3 women’s field pretty good at this point! I still went out on my Speed Terranes just to see. Without pushing the pace too much, I slid out a few times on the slick grass. With the rain stopping and the men yet to hit the course, I was unsure if the course would get drier or churned up and muddy. I was pretty torn on what decision to make, but I decided that I would ride the All Terranes for the sake of confidence. The last thing a racer should do is doubt their tire choice during a race, and maybe holding back because of it. An option could have been to have different tires on my pit bike, but, again, my pit bike was for emergency use only in this early-season equipment purgatory.”

Kerry: “As Becca just explained it started raining and my smile started growing. Seems like a dream come true to have rain on the opening weekend of the CX season. I swapped over from Speed Terranes tires to All Terranes and headed to the line.

The nerves were certainly there. There is always an unknown at the first CX race. However, after racing these guys for a couple years you develop relationships and cope with start line stress by poking fun and exchanging careless banter. I mostly talk shit, haha.  And mostly to Tobin, because he dishes it right back.

After a lackluster start due to missing my pedal off the line, I settled into the front of the race. It took about 3 laps for 4 of us to get away from the rest of the field. The rain had caused some corners to be slick and it was causing the gaps to open slowly but surely. The four of us kept exchanging turns at the front pretty evenly. While we had dropped the group behind us they kept yo-yo’ing closer to us then further away so a steady pace was key to keep more people out of the finishing mix.

With 1.5 laps to go I got on the front. I knew I needed to be up in the front by the final stair step feature to go for the win. After the stairs the turns were just too tight and the speeds too high to make any kinds of passing. The finish straight was short enough that even a gasses effort could hold up if you were first out of the final corner.

So I kept the tempo high, I knew these guys didn’t want to do any work they didn’t have to do. Then with 1/2 lap to go, we hit the one bigger climb on course out of a dead stop u-turn and I punched it. It was a long way to send an effort but if I could keep these guys behind me they couldn’t pass in the next tight turn feature. After that, it was one more huge push up over the final climb and into the steps. I was constantly checking over my shoulder and had to do a few accelerations and block people out over the course of the effort but I hit the steps first. All was good and smooth with my remount and so I thought I was home free.

I held the dudes off over the fly over, through a few chicanes and into the final corner I felt my rear get a little loose. I preemptively unclipped but kept my foot on the pedal. Jack K. was behind me and managed a clean corner. He got that half a pedal stroke on me and came up on me to a point where his front wheel was at my bottom bracket. I panicked and dropped the last bit of gas into the piston cylinder. It was close but I came out on top!

Now, I am not sure how you all feel about this but I fell on the ground and laid there gasping for breath for a solid 60-90 sec. I could not get my heart rate back under control. I did feel a little dramatic but I honestly don’t think I could have sat up. I know falling on the ground is dramatic but I tend to reserve it for the truly extreme efforts, which turns out this was one of them. I hit a new max heart rate at 200bpm!

 

Next up was Becca!

Becca: “Front row call up, I slotted up right next to Caroline Mani, and Crystal Anthony came next to me. The rain had stopped and the temps had really dropped. We were ready. At the whistle, I pushed off and got my pedal. Not a bad start! Crystal missed her pedal and was dropped hard. Everyone kept charging forward, fighting for the daylight at the front. My racing edge was not sharp and I wasn’t sure how to fight back. I slipped back a few spots. Once we settled in I was happy to feel that the pace felt slow. I didn’t charge forward immediately, instead, I took a moment to gather myself and lower my heart rate. Then I charged. I tucked into third. Eventually, Crystal found the front end of the race and she and I battled a little. She is great at being assertive in passing – I could learn a lot from her. I was able to gap her off and I was in a steady third place, with Van Dessel riders Caroline and Sunny charging in 1st and 2nd.”

 

Kerry: “Sunday was all smiles. I was really happy to come out with the season opening win. We stopped for ice on the way to the venue so we could make ice socks by filling panty hose with ice to stuff down our jerseys and places where the sun don’t shine. It was gonna be a hot one. 90 Fº and humidity on up higher than that!

After a warm up I was feeling good and looking forward to racing the Maxxis Speed Terrane, which we didn’t get to run yesterday but is a fast, yet very confident cornering tire.

After another lackluster start I settled in around 7. 1/4 of the way through the lap I got a little tangled with a Belgian racer who came across the pond for the early season race. He slipped a pedal at the bottom of the stair steps ride up and I was coming up his inside with momentum. He saw me coming and pinched me in the corner at the top of the climb, forcing me to unclip. I said something unsavory I am sure, but it wasn’t a big deal. The next thing I know he is sprinting to get up beside me and then throws a shoulder check! I definitely did not say anything about his mom but he must have thought I did.

Before I knew it my wheels were in the air, I was on the ground, and my bike was tangled in the tape. I cussed, spit, and yelled. I grabbed my bike hoping someone saw it to DQ his ass. It was a flagrantly violent maneuver. In my opinion, the video doesn’t do the act justice. It just makes me look like I need to hit the gym harder.

I got up quickly but lost a lot of ground. I saw him in the next u-turn straight and told him he was an asshole and that he was going to be disqualified… I really had no idea if he would have been but in my mind, he should have been. That must have gotten in his head. I spent the next 1.5 laps clawing my way up through the group to the front. As I pass this guy I told him “you might as well pull out because you are f%$king DQ’d,” I think he eventually did.

After connecting with the front group I tried to save energy. I sat on for the middle of the race not showing my face at the front until 3 or 4 to go. Troy Wells was flexing at the front and split our group into 3, Tobin, Troy, and myself. From there it was 1 to go and Tobin was on the same program I was on yesterday. I sat on waiting to attack on the final climb just before the stairs. Tobin put in a big effort over the climb and shut me down though. I got back behind him and hung my head thinking I couldn’t get the win unless I put him in the tape, which isn’t really my style.

We rolled up on the bottom of the stair case, and I saw an opportunity to go around him and over him up the stairs. I hit the ground running with feet moving like the road runner, cartoon clattering noises could have easily been a sound effect coupled with a cloud of dust.

I managed to get around him, have a smooth remount and clip in and after one more effort I was home free as long as I didn’t duff it in the corners. Just like that, I was 2 for 2! Unbelievable.

I fell on the ground again… This time my excuse was it was hot AF and the race was a stressful one. I also managed to surpass yesterday heart rate max and hit 202bpm. Ouch!

Becca was next.

Becca: “Feeling very relaxed at the start, I went quick from the gun, charging up and sitting in the front three towards the middle of the lap. But this is when we hit the freshly tilled fluffy sand, and there was a bit of a pile-up. Combined with my slow-motion running, I exited the sand back in the teens placing. Not ideal. After a few turns, the pace was settled and I was waiting to make my move. With all of the riders very close and riding single file along the fast track, it took me close to the end of the second lap to finally start moving up the ranks. I went from deep within the field to the top 5 again. Then, I found myself in 2nd. Crystal was way up and I didn’t see anyone catching her, but, I could totally hang on to 2nd. I could feel myself getting goosebumps; not because I was excited, but because I felt cold. I was not ready to push my body to the limit. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but, I think it’s fair to say no one is capable of murdering themselves 100% of the time. Even if there was a chance I had the mental ability, I am not sure my body would have held out. I was passed and slipped into 5th and it was all I could do to maintain that. My back. My legs. My arms. Everything was feeling it.

I felt the same about my race on Sunday as Saturday – disappointed but also a bit optimistic. I had what it took to get from deep within the field up to 2nd, but not the staying power quite yet. Plus, I was sliding across the dusty ground on my Maxxis Speed Terranes, which is exactly what they are made to do – limit the friction for faster rolling and have the side knobs catch you when the time comes. I rarely enter turns fast enough to get a slide going, but I did it and was comfortable with it-a good omen for things to come.

Despite this not being my strongest placing for an opening weekend, it is the first time I have been able to identify weaknesses and come up with a plan of action to strengthen them, or, in the event of fitness, already understood the potential lack of world domination.

After the race on Sunday, we packed up the camps, and rolled out of town – the whole shebang like a circus caravan rolling up the tents to go to the next sleepy little town. In this case, Rochester, NY.”

To catch all the behind the scenes debauchery check out Kerry’s  Vlog recap of the weekend…