Super Jake

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.

Charm City CX: Two Podiums, Two Race Reports (Part 2- Kerry Werner)

All I could think about all week was the top step. With Stephen on the mend, the podium was wide open and I was hungry. I wanted my first C1 win but I also didn’t want to overthink it. Luckily, I was around family all week so it wasn’t a heavy topic occupying my mind. 

The drive was only 2hrs from my parents’ house in southeastern pa to the Baltimore Airport, where Becca was flying in. With relatively no traffic the drive was smooth and we were at the course by 1pm, which was way too early. The mega fly over was still being built and the course wasn’t fully taped yet. So we occupied our time by swatting mosquitoes and organizing equipment, which was more or less just thrown in the trailer after Jingle Cross. 

After a pre ride we were off to the host house. A quick stop at Traders Joe’s, for pancake mix, then chipotle for dinner and we were all set. Katey and Joe (owners of Joe’s Bike Shop) were nice enough to put us up over the weekend and dealt with us bringing loads of stuff into their house, using their washer and dryer, and making stacks of pancakes every morning. 

I was prepping to leave for the venue on Saturday morning when Bruce Buckley sent me a photo of someone’s bike…

What I thought was going to be a file day actually turned out to be a real mudder. There was some rain earlier in the week in Baltimore, which the ground was holding, with an iron fist. Overcast skies were preventing anything from drying out and after the morning amateur racers went off the ribbon of dirt around the course was continuing to be slick. There were also two mud bogs on course. Apparently, there was a broken drainage pipe under the ground just past pit one and another broken drainage pipe towards the end of the lap. The first was being churned up and thickening all morning leading riders to run from the exit of pit 1 all the way to and up and over the fly over. The second mud pit was providing us with standing water, half way to hub deep, that you couldn’t see the bottom of but was relatively straight forward. The ground after the standing water was the most tricky part as we were tracking water past the puddle, which was turning the ground to peanut butter and kept you searching for traction on the short little climb after the puddle.

These were perfect conditions for me. I was looking forward to having a few corners slick and my legs were feeling ready to twist the throttle.

I threw on the Maxxis All Terrane’s, at 22 rear- 20 front, and headed to the line wearing the #1 number. 

I really wanted the hole shot so I could push on the early corners and see if people were struggling early on in the slick conditions. I got it and kept the pace high. 

After the first lap I pulled off and Curtis, Bolo, Van den Ham, and Driscoll were there, but the cracks were forming behind us. 

We tested each other all race but could not make it happen. With 2 to go we were still all together though the hurt was on everyone’s faces. Bolo got to the front and pushed a big effort, riding through the mud pit into the flyover that everyone else was running. He immediately opened up a 5 bike length gap and I knew that was the move. Up and over the fly over then I really had to work on the other side to catch him. Luckily, there were turny bits and not tons of pedaling. 

I latched on and went up the mansion climb with him. Then I slotted in front of him just as we went over the top. The turns after the top were fast and awkward, I pushed the pace and opened a small gap. One of those gaps that isn’t big enough to look back at, you just know it’s there from other people yelling at you and you hope to god you can just pour on a little more to make it more substantial. 

That’s what I did but I may have only gained another second or two. We hit the last corner maybe 3-4seconds apart but with that gap into the finish straight there was no way to contest the sprint. 

Holy crap! First C1 win! And I had to work like crazy for it, which made me even more excited about the race. 

It made it all the more special that my mom and dad were there, my new wife, and in laws. While Baltimore isn’t home for me, a lot of the spectators know of me from racing in the area when I was younger and they sure made me feel at home. Gracias!

We all grabbed some food at R. House Sunday night then packed it in for the night. 

Sunday was the same deal. We showed up at the venue around 12. Then got out for pre ride at 1:30. The track was tacky and dry in spots. The sun was out baking the ground and turning those slick corners into hard packed speed boosters. 

The files were perfect, Maxxis Speed Terrane, except for the mud bog before the sand pit, the one with a slight uphill after the exit. Riding through it was fine but trying to get back up to speed after it was a struggle. The lack of knobs on the top were not finding traction in the slick peanut butter. 

Taking that into account I figured it wouldn’t really matter. If the tires were only bad on that one spot it would probably not be an issue. I figured I could minimize the damage and the lack of tread would help me on the rest of the course. As it turns out, I was sadly mistaken.

The gun went off and Tobin had a rocket start. I slotted in behind him for the first half a lap or more. It became apparent on lap one that I didn’t have the best tires in that mud bog. But oh lord the files were so money everywhere else. 

I was getting gapped by 2-3 seconds every lap on the short climb after the mud bog but when I would lead into it I could keep everyone behind me and it wasn’t an issue. 

The same group stayed together for the first half of the race. Then MVdH came off, then Bolo, and it was Curtis and I. Then Curtis made a mistake and I was solo off the front with 2 laps to go. I had a solid 5 seconds on Curtis and Jamey, who latched on. 

I held the gap but Jamey bridged on the mud bog that I was struggling on. Then with 1 to go Jamey got to the front and started throwing hay makers. I was on the limit trying to hold his wheel. He would gap me, then I would close it, then he would gap me and I would close it. 

I hesitated for a split second and missed an opportunity to get in front before the mud bog and that was the end of the race. He opened up a 2-3 second gap coming out of it and there was no time and not enough left in the tank to close it. I sent a hail mary over the planter, jumping in and out trying to make up some time, but it had been a wash. I was gassed and didn’t jump the exit fast enough to make up ground. 

We hit the last corner and he still had 2 bike lengths on me. I don’t think I could have sprinted him with that gap, but then I slipped my rear wheel on the entrance to the pavement. I rolled it in for second.

That one hurt, not just physically but mentally. I wanted the sweep and felt like I had the legs to do it but one too many efforts to cover ground from my tire choice left me with a match or two short at the end of the race. 

 

I guess that is the silver lining though. I had the legs and felt good all weekend. It is also cool that the racing is so tight. Both Saturday and Sunday weren’t decided until the last lap and we weren’t group racing. We were trying to kill each other all race. It’s cool to see that on a given day 4-5 guys could come out on top. 

Charm city is the first two races of a 4 race series called the Parkway CX Trophy Series. The promoters of Charm City and DCCX have teamed up to make a series, based on time. With the win Saturday and 2nd on Sunday I have a lead in the overall, hence the white jersey in Sunday’s pictures. 

There is a grand up for prize money for the overall win. So after taking the next weekend off all focus will be on hitting DCCX and holding on to that. I have managed to sweep DCCX the last 2 years so I am hoping to keep the streak alive. 

 

Peloton Reviews the Major Jake “The bike’s ’cross DNA comes though loud and clear”

“The new Super Jake is about ‘cross first, with a little side of gravel for versatility.” 

Peloton has posted up their glowing review of our latest Super Jake on their website. They’re taken with its handling and fit. “It has a tight and responsive feel that many longer and taller gravel bikes lack with their endurance-inspired fit. The tight front end and taller bottom bracket make the bike ideal for quick changes of direction and tight switchbacks.” They praised its low BB drop as well. “The 67.5mm BB drop of the Major Jake makes mounting and dismounting less of a high-wire act.”

Click here or on the image below to check out the full review online.

 

 

Imaginary Domination Under the Eye of Stravaman

After suffering a mishap 15-miles in to a 54-mile day, Adventure Team rider Spencer Paxson shares his experience of what possessed him to keep riding real hard through the forests of the Black Hills.  

On the penultimate day of March, spring seemed preterm in the Black Hills (Capitol Forest) outside of Bordeaux, WA. Just shy of 200 bike riders gathered in the chilly, misty fields of the Evergreen Sportmen’s Club, set at the edge of the forest. Named for its border with the Black River, which is named for the “dark water” of Black Lake, the woods of the Black Hills did not hide their sinister nature. Indeed, the Eye of Stravaman loomed over all who pedaled through.

Spooky woods

Bordeaux, WA circa March 1903. Not much has changed except that there are bicycle races here on the weekends.

This was the sophomore year of the Cascadia Super G, put on by the Race Cascadia crew, which is best known for its regionally popular Cascadia Dirt Cup Series. This event was intended as a blend of enduro-meets-road-racing, or what these days we popularize as “gravel racing”.  At 9:30am we set out on a 54-mile course (shortened by 1 mile due to logging activity) to see just how we would fare. Unfortunately, the enduro timing system (which was supposed to record special downhill segments along the way) had been stuck in customs, so aside from the clock ticking at the finish line, we were all left with the Eye of Stravaman to decide the (unofficial) champion of the “race within the race”.

They say few can endure its terrible gaze, but for better or worse, with the Eye staring down, it didn’t matter so much when I suffered a nasty gash in my sidewall just 15 miles in, which I proceeded to have trouble fixing. After a few false starts of plugs, CO2s, boots, pumps, and even a nice helping hand who pulled over to see that I was alright (thank you, kind Sir!) I had lost around 18min. The race was rightly over, so it was time to go in to TT mode and let the Eye see what I was made of.

Blazing through moody clearcut vistas and spooky woods, I got to say hello again to most of my fellow bike racers who had passed me while I dealt with my mishap. For the next two hours I carried on with the Computer of Power weighing ever heavier on my handlebar. Lured by the Eye, I saw just how fast I could sustain.

With cracks beginning to show at the seams, I crossed the finish line a bit over 3 hours since I’d left it. According to the the clock I was 5th, but according to the Eye, I’d logged the fastest times on the major climb and descent segments. Be that as it may, the Eye grants no real dominion, only imaginary domination. And thus the ride was done and we left the Black Hills behind for another go some other day.

Chris Mcfarland

Racing against myself after getting rolling again…flat-out from mile 15 to 54.

Relive ‘Morning Ride’

 

Spring petals and pastels. Super Jake dressed pre-race like it was ready for an Easter egg hunt (it was Easter Weekend).

Super Jake with CX/MTB gearing combo (46/36 front, 11-40 rear) was the ride of choice for the 2018 Cascadia Super G

Super Jake, super gravel style. It was just an unlucky matter of physics and statistics (okay, and probably rider error!) that got the better of an otherwise burly tire setup.

The Computer of Power, displaying some heavy numbers from the day. It was “flat out” despite “flatting out”.

Crown Town

Birthday Bikepacking

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

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

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

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

Godspeed, and happy birthday Kerry!

 

 

Bike Love

It’s Valentine’s Day. For lots of people that means romance, fancy meals, and way too many heart-themed things.

At Kona, we also want to share the love of our favorite bikes with you. So from the bottom of our sappy little hearts, this is an ode to the bikes we are currently loving the most.

Amanda Bryan, Sales: I love the way the Process 153 sucks up the trail and pops around. It boosts confidence in the steep chunder and loves to get sideways and rowdy.

 

Jordan Sembler, Sales: This is my “One that got away” Valentine bike: “I miss my sweet baby blue Sutra LTD. She stood by me for more miles than any other bike I have had in recent memory and what did I do? I sold her for the next hottest thing… Looking back is always hindsight. She is truly the one that got away and I have to live with that. I just hope that she is happy with her new partner and looks back on our time together as fondly as I do…. I sure hope my Rove LTD doesn’t read this…”

Product Team members Justin Clements and Ian Schmitt: Justin says, “Me and my friend Ian riding a rock roll together in Squamish BC at the MY17 Kona Launch. He’s riding a Big Honzo and I’m riding a Hei Hei Trail CR.”

Product Team member Mark Allison: I love the Operator because who doesn’t love riding big bikes down gnarly terrain? It always means you’re in the woods with your buddies.

Molly Joyce, Sales: This is my Process 111. It was a party! What a sleeper of a bike. It had a way of getting you into spicy situations and at the same time see you out like a champ. I had some of my favorite rides on that bike.

Kona Adventure Team Member Spencer Paxson: My Hei Hei and Process 111 in foreground. Valentines big and small, and bikes of all kinds. Bikes + love and families + bikes = love.

Kona CX Racer Kerry Werner: My “Kona Valentine” is the Superjake. First, and foremost, it is fast as hell on the cx course! Enough said. Secondly, it is so versatile. As the CX season was winding down I was planning as many different bike packing adventures and big gravel rides I think of. Basically, this bike gets me excited to spend copious amounts of time in the saddle.

Scott McKay Sales: Gotta love a Wo and Fireball Whiskey on a cold afternoon like this. Wo+Whiskey= Love

Garry Davoren, Distributor: Who doesn’t love a Ti Honzo?

 

Kona Athlete Hannah Bergemann: The Honzo climbs with ease, which encourages me to ride longer and further. It’s insanely confidence-inspiring and stable, yet still super playful on the descents, and it has me wanting to hit all the jumps and features I can find. I can pack it up with gear for an overnight bike packing trip, or rally it down some of my favorite downhill trails. I’ve been riding the Honzo for a few months now and have taken it to most of my favorite trails in Bellingham. I’ve had a blast riding long XC routes in Mazama, WA and descending technical, rock-filled trails in Squamish. The Honzo made me reconsider my opinion of hardtail bikes, and I feel like I have yet to find the limits of this bike. Looking forward to many more miles on this bike!

Lacy Kemp, Marketing: My Process 153 CR DL is always up for diving into the steepest pitches. The steeper the better!

Kona freerider Graham Agassiz on his custom Operator: This is my favourite bike for a lot of reasons but the two biggest ones would be it’s 26″ and it’s a rainbow trout!

Happy Valentines Day to you and your bikes, from all of us at Kona!

Kerry Werner’s Road to Bronze

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

Cyclocross World Championships: Valkenburg, NL

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

US Cyclocross Nationals is This Weekend!

Kerry Werner (Kona) is on pace for his best-ever cyclocross season of his young professional career. photo: Jingle Cross Day 3, Werner’s top 10 finish. © A. Yee / Cyclocross Magazine

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

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

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

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

And his goal? “WIN!” he responded.

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

Smile Because It Happened – Helen Wyman Moves On

After nine memorable seasons representing Kona Bicycles at the highest level of the cyclocross discipline, Helen Wyman, World Cup star, multi-time European Champion and British Champion, is moving on to a different program beginning in January 2018. The Dr. Seussian phrase, “don’t be sad that it’s over; be happy that it happened” comes to mind, as Helen moves on while still performing and leading the sport at the height of her career. As of this article, she is ranked 9th in the world. And though Helen’s exit makes room for Kona’s commitment to developing future stars, her successful tenure here will leave a hole worth paying homage to – perhaps a hole the likes of which may not be filled again by a Kona racer.

Helen en route to a bronze medal finish at the 2014 World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands (PC: T. Van Bracht)

Within the last two decades, Kona’s women’s elite cyclocross program, with multiple World Cup podiums and wins, has been its most successful international race program. Dating back to American Anne Knapp in the early 2000s, building with Canadian Wendy Simms in the mid-2000s, Kona’s international cyclocross success was cemented by Helen and her dominant performances from 2009 to present day. We’ll boast for her here: 67 UCI Pro wins in the last 12 years, 9 British National Championships, 3 European Championships, and a bronze medal from the World Championships! But that’s not all.

A cobble to be proud of – holding the coveted trophy of Koppenberg Cross, which Helen first won in 2010.

Helen departs Kona with more than race results. In addition to committing her young adult life to the athletic craft of cyclocross, Helen has leveraged her success to directly influence the future of the sport at a global level. Since 2013 she has served on the UCI Cyclocross Commission where she has been a prodigious voice for equality in sport, including equal pay for women. Helen’s work has led to the development of a U23 women’s category for the World Championships, increases in prize money for women, and has significantly increased the overall World Cup ranking prize purse for both women and men.

Battling reigning World Champion Sanne Cant this November at the Zeven World Cup, where Helen took second place (PC: TFOTO.BE).

“My goals were to equalize the prize money for elite men and women, develop a U23 women’s category and filter through all those rules to make essential changes for the good of the sport. I also wanted to ensure that all professional ‘cross racers have clear, set pathways to ensure they can carry out their sport at the World Cup level,” said Helen in an interview with Cyclocross Magazine.

Helen taking an early-season win at EKZ Cross this October, opening up a streak of top-performances which position her well for a strong showing at the upcoming World Championships in Valkenburg, Netherlands in February. (PC: EKZ Cross Tour)

Whether it is persisting through the haze of federation policies or the mire of bike racing in winter, Helen is known for her tireless style. The more gnarly the conditions, the more she thrives. Her strengths are in the mud, technical terrain, and the cold. “If I had it my way, ‘cross would start in October and finish in March,” she wrote in her column for Cyclocross Magazine. This is saying something for someone who spends most of the race season in the sunless swards of Belgium. “The queen of mud”, as she has been called, has piloted four iterations of the Major Jake to international fame, from her first win at the prestigious Koppenberg Cross in 2010 (she claimed her fourth win there in 2017), to a bronze medal at the frozen Hoogerheide World Championships in 2014, and many other wins and podium finishes in between.

Be it a wall of stairs, pits of mud, frozen ruts, uphill battles – Helen has taken them on in stride – swiftly, and with a smile. (PC: Bart Raemaekers)

Thus, far short of the novel that might begin to do justice to her time at Kona, we wish the best to Helen and her future pursuits in the sport. We hope she stays true to her word that she will “continue racing until her legs scream no more,” and that she makes others’ legs scream at the front of the World Cup field. We will be there along with her other fans cheering her on and finding inspiration in her successes in sport and beyond.

Helen, we thank you for your commitment to Kona and your world class representation of the sport for the past decade, and wish you the best.

Wyman 3rd in Belgium

Kona cyclocross ringer Helen Wyman finished on the podium at the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee Scheldecross in Antwerp, Belgium. After a grueling race on a track riddled with challenging obstacles, Wyman was able to hold off those charing from the behind to take home third place behind Sanne Cant and Katie Compton. Congrats, Helen, on another strong result.

Velonews has the full recap here.