Rebecca Fahringer

Endless Summer Days At Highland Mountain Bike Park

Last week I took the 35-hour drive from Colorado to Northern Vermont to attend the coveted NEMBA fest. During my time there, I met up with Wilson; the fun-loving and talented Kona Demo Tour driver and his loyal fur companion, Fred.  After a fun weekend at the Kingdom Trails, we decided we were not ready to end the fun yet, and headed a few hours east to Highland Mountain Bike Park. Growing up on the east coast, I have spent many days ripping trails and watching this New Hampshire bike park grow into one of the best parks in the country. I was excited to show Wilson around, and we even convinced Kona CX Pro Becca Fahringer to come to take some DH laps with us.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG


We all met up in the morning amped on our new friendship and ready to make the most of this long summer day fitting in as much riding as possible. Luckily on this particular day, Highland offers lift access all day and then after hours pedal laps up the mountain until 8 pm making it perfect for our energetic crew.  


After our meet up we took to the trails with our posse of Process 153’s. We rode everything from smooth jump trails to rugged and rooty race trails. The Process 153 is by far my favorite enduro bike I have ever owned, and Highland Mountain was the perfect place to showcase all of its capabilities. However, our day wasn’t all just fun and games. We took advantage of the wide variety of terrain Highland has to offer by doing some suspension testing and tweaking. Wilson worked some magic on my bike and suspension, setting it up perfect for my upcoming race this weekend.
Before we knew it, the mountain was about to close, and the lift laps were coming to an end.  With a quick snack break and dog walk, the enduro phase of our day was about to begin. Highland’s “Wenesduro” has become the hot new hangout for all the locals.  It is the only night that the mountain allows uphill traffic and riders like to see who can do the most laps of the evening. We took it pretty causal but used every once of light we could squeeze out of the day. 


Beat from a day of park laps, filming, and pedaling, we all cruised up the road to a friend’s house.  After another full day of fun, we once again decided we still weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to our new pals Wilson and Fred. We decided to keep the partying going by headed up north the next day to check out some more ripping trails and make the most of these endless summer days. 

CX Magazine Interview with Rebecca Fahringer

Rebecca Fahringer’s first season as a Kona cyclocross racer saw steady improvement from race to race. She ended the season with a strong showing in her European leg of the season and finished a personal-best 16th at World Championships in Bogonse.

CX Magazine recently conducted an in depth interview with Fahringer and discussed everything from her segue into CX from triathalons, her rise in the domestic rankings, and her years-long contest with Kerry Werner to see who had the better season. Do you know who won? Be sure to check out the article for the results and a lot more about Fahringer.

Belgian Beer to Spanish Tapas

We landed the 19th of December and hit the ground running! And we ran straight into the highest concentration of cross racing one could experience all year. It is dubbed the “Christmas Block”, or “Kerstperiode” if you are a hard core muck boot-wearing, Jupiler-guzzling, cigarette-puffing, frites-devouring cyclocross fan.

 

We are sane people so Rebecca and I were not signing up for the full race schedule, which goes as follows: Sint Niklaas, (Waasland Cross), Namur World Cup, Zolder World Cup, Azen Cross, Bredene, Diegem, Baal (or Petange Lux), Gullegem, and finally Brussels University Cross. Phew, that was even lengthy to type out.

We would pick and choose our way through this block. We based our schedule on extended jet lag/ acclimation, predicted exhaustion, and potentially better results at over lapping weekends. Thus, I started with Waasland Cross and Namur, followed by Zolder.

By this time I had still not felt like myself. I felt like I had one speed and no snap or even desire to race an empty the tank. Rest was the priority and so I watched everyone race Azen cross, do the famous whoops, and hop the big ditches, and hoped for better legs on Saturday at Bredene.

My body responded to voluntary absence from racing in a positive way, I felt like racing was fun again and I was eager to twist the throttle. So to cement that feeling in I skipped Diegem on Sunday night and watched from home, on the couch, eating a waffle. Did I feel guilty? No, but I was regretting not being on the start line. It looked like such a good time. Diegem has a legendary atmosphere, which I am hoping to be a part of next year.

We threw a hail marry! Instead of showing up for the big prime time GP Sven Nys in Baal we trucked it south to Luxembourg for the Petange C2. With the bigger names in Baal we were hunting for the podium. The course was crazy. Straight up and straight down up on what looked like a mellow MTB track. A mechanical took me out of the top 5 but the vibes were trending in a positive direction.

That left one weekend, two races, left before heading to sunny Malaga, Spain. I was really looking forward to going to Spain with the last few races behind me and hoping to take some positive feelings with me into the training block.

Gullegem was Saturday, where I cracked a top ten in a barebones field (still counts). Brussels University Cross was Sunday, which we were lucky to have happened… Some students protested the race being on campus for the weekend during their exam week. I can understand that. Who could concentrate with the salivating run off of steam over the campus grounds from frites vendors? Or how could anyone page through a textbook and glean any amount of information as you here little kids screaming “Mathieu, Mathieu, Mathieu Van der Poel!”

Anyway, the course was awesome! Tons of off cambers and tricky little moves that suited by handling skills and my legs were able to carry me to 14th, the last rider to not get pulled. Thus, I got the most bang for my buck, even though races are free, by being on course the longest.

I also grabbed a little bit of camera time, which is rare when you are not hovering close to MVDP. By hoping the stairs in front of Lars Boom I got a courtesy shout out and slo-mo replay from Euro Sport!

We were all looking to put the Kerstperiode behind us and welcome the sunny skies tantalizingly awaiting us on Monday afternoon on the Southern Coast of Spain.

Everyone’s mood was elevated on day one when even though we rode longer then we had planned and it was a joy to feel warm air weave its way in and out of parts of our bodies that haven’t seen the outside world in weeks, perhaps months (Rebecca is from NH…).

 

After recovering from the weekend it was time to go! I was in need of some longer days in the saddle and this place was providing amazing roads, views, and lots of time spent riding with friends.

The Cannondale Cyclocross World team is in Malaga, as well as a road team out of Toronto, “Toronto Hustle”. So there is no shortage of rad people to ride with.

It’s rejuvenating to be spending time outside, riding unstructured, and in whatever direction looks coolest.

Exploring the winding climbs and ripping descents.

Heading for the mountains or pedaling up the coast.

Canyon floors and switchbacking dirt climbs back to the ridgeline.

It’s not all bike riding either… There is some amazing food in the place. From taps to paella and everything in between.

Rebecca just got on a plane heading to France for the Pont Chateau World Cup. I am hanging back and milking this place for all it’s worth.

Back to Belgium on Monday to get ready for Zonnebeke, a little tune up C2 race, before the Hoogerheide World Cup on Sunday. I am getting really excited to get back between the tape and reap the rewards of the long hours I have sewn.

Until then… You can check out the “Euro CX” vlog series highlighting the entire Kerstperiode and all of the shenanigans around racing thus far. I have been letting the Gopro recharge and the next vlog will go live after the Zonnebeke and Hoogerheide weekend. Then it’s off to Denmark for World Championships, and one more weekend after worlds before b\packing the CX bike away for much-neededed rest.

Euro CX Campaign Youtube Playlist

Louisville Sluggin: CX Nationals 2018

Kerry: After Hendersonville’s snowed out Sunday race I was keen to get to Nats to check out the track and get a feel for it. Unfortunately, there was limited time to do that. With so many amateur races being packed into the week there was seldom at 20min open course time. Also, when there was a 20min course window it was hella crowded, but I digress. 

The track was very similar to the Pan Am champs race last year. I liked it a lot. It was super physical and had some really good off cambers to challenge the technical aspects of a rider’s quiver. With some rain in the forecast later in the week my spirits were on a high level.

I spent most of the week trying not to think about the race, and let my heart rate get away from me just sitting on the couch thinking about different race scenarios. This included spinning through Cherokee Park, hitting the local coffee shops, and hanging at the house with Sherman my beagle.

Becca: I have a new favorite Nationals. Previously it was Asheville, followed by Hartford, Boulder, Reno, and last, Austin. But Louisville was a good one. My ranking system includes weighted #feelz from course, results, venue, week leading up, afterparty, and overall experience. This weekend scored high in all categories.

Friday night the rain came in and the course slopped up. We saw the slogs and slips go to runs and slides. Our tent, perched in the grass and not in the concrete lot got flooded – the grass turned to mud and there was no way to actually use the space. Luckily, Shimano not only takes care of us with great components, wheels, and shoes, but they also let Kerry and I warm up under their nice spacious tent on Saturday for our preride!

It rained through the morning so by the time we got out on course (at noon, not 5 pm), it was a sloppy mess. I knew it would be much different on Sunday, with the rain stopping and the hint of sun poking out, but after talking with Coach McGovern we decided any course time was good course time and Kerry and I headed out, for a single lap. Yes, it was a lot of walking, but it was a really fun time, too. Knowing that the conditions would change let me enjoy the slop instead of being worried about finding the hidden ruts, deciding when to run vs ride and looking for the best lines. I just got to ride, and it was freeing. I also got to see Kerry eat it HARD on the fast descent and that, too, was freeing. 

I did my one preride lap on the day. It took 30 minutes. I knew it would be a race of riding smooth and mental fortitude. It reminded me of 2018 Worlds in Luxembourg, where our preride was fun and sloppy but the day of the race (for the women) was heavy peanut butter forcing more running than riding. Instead of the typical cyclocross effort which is 90% or 110%, a course like this was 100% all the time. You can’t let up. There is no easy. And because of that, you can’t ever really go harder.  I had no real plans or lines, except when I would pit and that I would take it on the shoulder to run to the pavement. I didn’t ask anyone about tire pressure, run choices, spike lengths, lines, or anything. This was maybe the 1st race ever where I put everything on me 100% (that said I went 19/20PSI and I should have gone MUCH lower, but there was hardly any riding, so what does it matter?). 

I didn’t have much structure to my warmup. I didn’t feel fresh so I just tried to get my HR up to 180 to flush the system and that’s all I felt I could do. I then had to head to the start line in a trek that was just like at a euro race – a battle between mud and spectator traffic – it was enthralling!

We go on the green light.

Ellen Noble does her typical 2 bike-lengths off the start in a half a second, and not too long after I find myself in second place. I mean, it didn’t last long, but this was by far my best start ever. Both off the line and through the lap. The first turn was a gradual arc with thick mud and any one spot seemed just as bad as the next, but I was to the outside and had a longer way to pedal than others and ended up into the next element near 6th place. Compton was edging to pass and I could feel her behind me. My instincts told me to shut it down but my respect and feelings on the day said just ride your line, don’t open the door but don’t be a douche. She passed.

I can’t remember too much of that first lap except knowing I was in 3rd at some point because I saw Katie and Ellen crash together as I was bombing down. I kept it upright (though likely at a slower pace than they were going before they crashed). I watched what they were doing to help me select lines, judge traction, and know when to try to run. Over halfway through my 1st lap and I knew the pace was going to take a toll later on. But I was still in 3rd so I kept trudging.

The best part about my position was the cheers. People. Were. So. Stoked. 

Some of the next events I can’t quite remember the order of.

I went in to pit 2 during lap 1 and took a clean bike. Because the men’s preride was immediately before our race, Wilson had to stay at the tent to help Kerry and Nick was in the pits to catch my bike. I roll it to him and I take my clean bike from Doug, on my shoulder. My Kona was so light that I actually hit myself in the head with my saddle – it was at least 20lbs lighter than the one I had just plopped to Nick. 

I was still in 3rd but so close to Ellen, in 2nd. The crowd tells me she is tired, she is cracking, she is crying. I can’t go any faster but I work hard to keep crawling on. I catch her on the limestone steps but nothing inside of me will let me go faster – she looks over her shoulder at me and puts in a dig so hard I just can’t keep up. I am on her wheel going into the downhill chicane but I can’t take my lines with her in front of me, though I’m not sure why. 

I keep close at the bottom of the course and almost catch her again on the muddy downhill but again, I am not in my line and get bogged down in some thicker mud. She gets away again. And then, the nail in the coffin.

I go to get a clean bike from the pits. I see Wilson. I am running in, he waves his arms and says “NO BIKE, THERES NO BIKE DON’T COME IN”. If I go in with no bike to take I have to stop and have someone pretend to do something to my bike. I swerve out. Sunny goes in. I am bogged down and churning through the deep mud outside of the pit lane. Where is my bike? How will I do another lap on this bike? It is heavy and clogged with mud, will it even make it? I had no choice. On the section of the course with the most pavement I was damned with a bike 25 lbs too heavy and unable to roll easily due to the mud. I lose ground and soul. At the stair flyover I go to run up and physically can’t lift my bike – never had I encountered the run up with this heavy of a bike.

The effects of race brain are real, and I don’t remember when Sunny makes the pass on both Ellen and I, but after that I was battling for the last podium spot and each time I almost made it, I messed up and dropped back again. I rolled across the line in 4th. And as I have been saying, not only is this my best Nationals results but one of my best rides ever. Sure, I came in 4th, but I battled. I was up there. I didn’t just ride the whole race off the back of the leaders, I was a leader!

After the race, I asked why I couldn’t get a bike when I needed one. Pits that backed up? No, it turns out the rear derailleur on my bike had gone bad (the servo???). Lucky for me, I didn’t experience any problems before I pitted, which may mean it happened right before. It is something that could have happened just because of the grit and grime, or more likely, I shifted under load (me? Never.) and killed it. But Doug miraculously ran to the Shimano tent to get me a new unit, then back to the pits to get it on. 

A few things that could have improved my race: I spent so much time being calm that I didn’t have the mental fire to fight. It served me well for the first lap, but when my body was failing me my mind couldn’t overcome. I am still working on striking up that balance between staying calm and feeling the fire. The benefits of being calm on this course meant that I never crashed! I got tangled in the course tape trying to ride too close to the stakes, or had some sloppy dismounts, and often rode too long before deciding to run, but I never spontaneously combusted like so many times earlier this season.

Kerry: Saturday I got out for a proper course inspection. By proper, I mean that the course was finally similar to what it was going to be like when we raced on Sunday. It was not pretty. The rain was great for the racers that got the course during the rain. However, all the races that happened at the end of the week ended up tearing it to smithereens! It was super deep mud, so much mud that some of the down hills were hard to coast down. It turned the course from a hard to ride physical course to a runners course. My mood got knocked down a peg or two. I am all for a challenge but I knew I didn’t have the legs that the course was demanding. I battled Curtis earlier in the year on a similar course and he blew my doors off. I just can’t keep up with almost half the time on course spent running. The conditions below, including a little spill…

I searched for a silver lining and was still counting myself for the podium. I just had to hang on as long as I could. 

I was 3rd wheel off the start and slotted into 4th by the end of the first lap. I was smoked though.

I knew I couldn’t keep the pace. I started to fall off on lap two and settled into a group battling for 4th for the middle of the race. There were times when I thought I had it, times when I thought I didn’t, then it would come back, then I would be in 6th again. 

Finally, Drew Dillman passed me and went away, my legs were losing steam. I battled the last two laps with J-Pows before he ran away from me on the last half lap. 

I crossed the line exhausted and bummed out because I wanted to give so much more then I had. Every time I envisioned the race unfolding I always thought it was going to come down to a final 200m attack and I always pictured myself being there to contend. 

That’s the way it is though. The course was not my friend and it is obvious that I need to work on my running game. I thought I had learned this lesson last year from a race or two but apparently, I am thick headed. 

There is a takeaway, not necessarily from the race but the season. I topped the standings in the ProCX calendar points accumulation.

It wasn’t a series, simply a tabulation of points accumulated from every UCI race in the US that happened. I did enough of them and did the best at the most of them to top the leaderboard. Hopefully, next year there is a series and a little more to fight for but I am not complaining with this super cool Louisville Slugger.

So I bought a bottle of Bourbon and headed back to the Airbnb where we celebrated Rebecca’s good performance and top-notch job by our support staff. Doug Sumi and Wilson Hale killed it all weekend, spraying mud off our bikes and occasionally onto themselves. They were part of the dream team. Kerry, or Kerm, Emily’s dad also kicked in and helped with a last minute tent move to pull us out of the soggy muddy plot we were given to a cement pad that King College gave up to us. Emily’s mom, Lynn, kept all our chamois clean all week. I didn’t have to start the washer or dryer once! Nick Czerula, Becca’s boyfriend pitched in for the physical bits some but mostly hung out and took cool candid pic’s of us goofing around the house. It was a real team effort and for a program that usually runs pretty small, it was cool to have it grow for the last weekend of the season. 

It was back to NC on Monday and straight to packing. Doug had about zero days off since he came in and Tuesday spent the day, first, cleaning bikes that only had been partially cleaned after the nationals disaster. Then packed 4 bikes, and helped me set spare parts aside from the 2 months in Europe on the horizon. God, I hope he is our full-time wrench next year. 

I wrote this sitting on a bed inside “The Chain Stay” on the eve of my first CX race in Europe, Waaslandcross in Sint Niklaas. I am hoping to use it as an opener for the Namur World Cup on Sunday. I never feel great for that first effort off the plane. Cross your fingers for me folks and keep your eyes for vlogs. I’ll be publishing a few since we have 7 races in the next 10 days! Let the Chaos begin.

Catch up on the last vlog:

It’s CX Nationals Weekend!

It’s been a wild ride for the cyclocross teams this year. Crazy, unpredictable weather has made gear selection and maintenance extra critical. In spite of the curve balls from mother nature, we’ve seen top results from our in-house Kona Shimano Maxxis CX Team of Kerry Werner and Rebecca Fahringer, as well as incredible results from our sister crew, Team S&M CX! This is the weekend they’ve all been waiting for. The Super Jakes and Major Jakes are tuned up and ready to slide around some Louisville dirt!

Kerry Werner testing out the latest in muddy facial technology

We’ve handed the keys to our Instagram stories over to Kerry and Becca for the weekend so be sure to follow along with their shenanigans. If we’re lucky Kerry’s dog Sherman will make an appearance too! CX Magazine will also be streaming the races live on Sunday, so you can watch all the action live online!

Team S&M CX’s Clara Honsinger is one to watch for the weekend! She’s been grabbing the top step all season in the U23 category. Photo by Adam Koble

Supercross Cup A Cyclocross Epic

FYI: We are going to focus on Becca’s perspective for this weekends blog post. For reasons that will soon be clear.

Supercross is a race that always has predictably unpredictable (crappy) weather, and no matter the venue or course, something gets thrown in to make it fun and tricky. I had found varying levels of mild success there in the past, and was really hoping that this would be my weekend. It had been 2 years since my previous (and only) UCI win, and I have had countless near misses since. It was time to break the curse.

Cue Supercross weather, and snow dumped across New England on Thursday night and into Friday morning. Were we going to contend with snow, ice, or mud? By the time we raced on Saturday, it was slick mud with icy cold puddles of melted snow. The air temp was in the low 40s but the cold water of snowmelt meant no fingers or toes were safe. 

The course itself is across a grassy field with some undulation and a tricky woods section. But it was all mud. The uphills were runs. Most of the flat sections were runs. The downhills were recovery coasts, but you couldn’t really recover if you were white-knuckling the bars like I was. The woods were less muddy and more soupy, so it was easy to pedal through but you couldn’t see the sharp rocks or the slick roots so you had to choose your speed wisely.

I started well on Saturday, immediately getting slotted behind Canadian U23 National Champ Ruby West. She starts to draw away from me as the lap unfolds, but she bobbles a few times and I get to close the gap. She drops her chain and I get to attack. I am off the front and leading the race.

After 3 laps, I am still leading. I had been riding smoothly, so smoothly in fact, that my 10 minute lap times were all within a second of each other. The crowd is cheering for me that I can finally get my win – it is my race. I feel like my 20 seconds or so is pretty solid, I just have to stay upright.

In the last lap I encounter lapped riders. I yell “RACER BACK” and they don’t yield. One is running in the line I had been riding. The only rideable spot in the wide grassy track. I have to dismount, I yell “JUST STOP”. She does not stop. I go around, losing some time. I continue on. I get to the crest of another hill and see another rider. I yell for her to get out of the line because I am about to go careening down this hill with no option of stopping to avoid running her over. She does not move. I delay my mount. I lose time. She again does not yield around the turn. I run a rideable section. I lose time. The finish is minutes away, and I can now see Ruby over my shoulder. I try to ignore her and stay calm. She catches me up the final hill – a run. We get to the section of boggy grass that had baffled me the whole race – not sure if I should be running or riding and where to mount. She hops on, I keep running and get ground. But then I hop on, she has momentum and passes me. Watching the video is painful because it is so obvious I should have got off to run, but in my head, if I was on the bike when we hit the pavement then I could outsprint her – but the gap was too big and the finish was too close. There was no way to do it. I had lost the race. Again. 

Check out a recap of the race, and the finish (from a million angles) here:

I was pissed, to say the least. Heartbroken. Confused. What made it worse was Ruby was exhausted at the finish, and I wasn’t, but where could I have put that effort out on the course? I had so many emotions that anytime I went to talk to someone I instead wanted to scream and cry. It felt childish to have these feelings but they stem from passion, not hate. Looking back, I am still totally bamboozled as to how it happened. I am happy to note that Ruby shut down the 20 seconds, I didn’t slow down. Any slow down to lost riders was made up in my lap time by working harder once Ruby was over my shoulder. So, luckily, unlike so many times before, I didn’t scratch on the 8-ball. I was happy with the race I had ridden, no crashes, mechanicals or mishaps on the treacherous course. Besides, there was always tomorrow. By the time we were at the podium I was not exactly over it, but in much better spirits and ready to celebrate Ruby’s victory and my own accomplishments. Besides, there was podium bubbly.

Sunday, the course was the same only run in reverse. The temperatures stayed above freezing so the snow continued to melt, but the days’ events churned the water and mud into a thicker concoction. There was even more running, with the flats getting heavier and the downhills becoming uphills. Many races had much thinner fields, the elite races included. Many didn’t bother preriding. I almost didn’t, but for the sake of being a winner I did.

My heart was heavy. My body was cold. I didn’t really feel like racing. We got to the line and I was jealous of the people not showing up. The whistle went and I got on the pedals. I started slower than the day before. Or others started faster? Cassie was throwing elbows like we were in line for the last Tickle Me Elmo. Ruby was at the front. I was not.

I was gapped off through the first run and even more so by a bad line choice down a muddy hill. Her gap increased across an off-camber run. I kept my eyes on the prize: the daylight at the front. I got to the front of the chase, dropped the others easily, and very quickly made time to Ruby just by riding some things she was running. I sat on her wheel for the rest of the lap and into the second just to make sure I was ready to go for it. And I did. I passed Ruby on a run up and never looked back. After the woods section, I heard I had a gap. Through the finish line, they thought Ruby had a mechanical (she later joked to me that she wanted to yell to them, “nope. You’re wrong. I just can’t go harder” haha). I heard I was up to 1:30. 2:30. With a lap to go, I still wanted to take nothing for granted. I joked with all of the onlookers to not jinx it. I only looked over my shoulder once I hit the finish straight. Another flawless day, but this time without the last minute hunt-down. I finally won. Over 4 minutes later, Ruby would cross the line in 2nd.

I am obviously very stoked to have finally won, but it isn’t quite as nice under that lingering pain from Saturday. I wish I could go back in time and decide to run that last corner as Ruby did, so maybe we could come to the pavement together to at least take it to a sprint. Or that she had caught me sooner so we could have battled 1-on-1 a little longer! But what’s done is done, and I have accepted the 2nd and then, of course, that final victory of a top step finish!!!

I only have one more domestic weekend before Nationals, and that is the C1 at NBX in Warwick, RI. Then, the team heads over to Belgium, where each race is a victory just to finish with everything intact!

Check out Kerry’s Vlog:

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!