From ‘Cross Star to Grand Prix. Astral Pro Athlete Kerry Werner’s Speaks About Life and Racing

Ok, for the uninformed, let’s start with a little background.

Basic stuff-

Q) Where do you live?
A) Vinton, VA (basically Roanoke, Va)

Q) Who are you sponsors?
A) Bikeflights, Kona, Maxxis, Shimano, 7mesh, Flow Formulas

Q) When did you go pro?
A) 20?

Q) What has been your primary focus and strengths in your career?
A) I started out chasing XCO races, World Cup MTB, UCI racing in the States, a handful of world champs. Then I transitioned into CX racing and did the same thing. Chased the UCI circuit in America and spent winters in Belgium Slogging through the mud. I’ve done 5+ years of world cups and world champs on the CX bike.

Q) What are your goals for this season?
A) I have taken on the Lifetime GP series. So that is the huge focus. I’d like to prove that they fucked up by not letting me in last year. I’ve got a bit of chip on my shoulder.

Q) How has pro bike racing changed for you in the last 3-5 years?
A) I spent 8 years or so chasing CX domination in the US. I’ve checked all the boxes of pro ‘cross minus winning nationals, which is still a goal of mine. Recently, with the gravel craze brimming, sponsors have pushed me into that discipline. At first I held a grudge because I love cx so much. But like I said I’ve done the same racing for 8+ years and learned that it’s nice to mix it up. The
different training requirements for these races may end up having a positive impact on ‘cross racing down the line – assuming I’m not too cooked to join the fray.

Q) Though you were originally known for shorter races you’ve done some solo ultra-endurance efforts in the last couple years. Tell us about them. What was the inspiration for those and what was it like to take that step. What’s the same and what’s different from short, high intensity efforts.
A) I have done two FKT style efforts, both in 2022. In May of 2022 I did a 250 mile gravel route called rockstar gravel and then in August I did the paved rockstar route of 168miles. The gravel route took 18.5hrs and I set the new fkt. The paved route took 8.5 hrs and I set the fkt. Both were a large departure for me. I had done 6-11hr rides before but always at my own pace, with friends, there was always an option to stop for more food or slow the pace to get through a dark spot. During the FKT’s it was just push through as hard as you could for the whole thing. I actually really enjoyed it. Physical challenges always captivate me. I love pushing into the unknown and I kind of regret not doing more dumb stuff like this earlier in my career.

Obviously, in the moment they are what they are, hard, fun, challenging, demoralizing. But when you come out on the other side there is always something to be gained. For me it was understanding the mental demands a long effort requires. You end up riding waves through the highs and lows and how you react to both has a big impact on the end result. It was also an eye opener to what I had to work on physically. The way I trained and the systems that needed work if I was going to be competitive this year in the lifetime GP series. I have naturally been a punchy rider that can handle vo2 repeatability well, but have always struggled to have a strong aerobic base. Coach Chris McGovern and I have been trying to hammer out that weakness by adding a bunch of volume in. This is great for me because I just love to ride my bike. Fast or slow, hard or chill, all day or for an hour. I love the big missions though.

Q) This is your first year stepping into the Lifetime G.P. racing series and the competition in that series seems to be getting super hot. Tell us about that transition and your season to come.
A) Normally I am use to a cx schedule. Lots of weekend back-to-back racing from September through December. This is a bit different in the fact that the first race is mid April and the last race in the end of October. So it’s a massively long season and every race counts. You have to be ready at every event. That means stepping away from some other racing that I would like to do in order to save matches for these races. They take full focus.

Q) The first race of the series was Fuego XL at the Sea Otter Classic. Give us a quick recap. How’d it go? Any take-aways?
A) Yeah. Holy f&%k that was fast! Basically it was a 4:15 XCO race. It was awesome. I didn’t get to do any of the lifetime races last year so it was a good eye opener at what is to come for the rest of the season. I got 13th in the race and 10th in the lifetime series. A good start but I want more than that. Luckily, there is a lot of racing left to go this year.

Q) How do you see the Lifetime series shaping cycling in the USA?
A) It’s cool and not cool. Start with the not cool.

The races suck… Maybe not all of them but on a whole they are just kind of bland. I would not want to do any of these races if I wasn’t part of lifetime. My motivation this year is the high level of competition and seeing how I can stack up. I really am not looking forward to any of the races on the schedule. They just don’t check the fun box for me. I would love to see a real mountain bike race with actual tech on the circuit.


As far as why it is cool? The LTGP series has definitely elevated cycling’s recognition. It’s cool to see the YouTube series and more people being exposed to the sport. We have needed a series that people can follow and get excited about for some years now. The coolest part is that people who aren’t necessarily hard core cyclists are paying attention, which has a profound trickle down effect that will be interesting to watch evolve over the coming year.

Q) Unbound is obviously on everyone’s mind. It’s coming up fast and obviously a huge race. How’s training going for that event and how do you feel about it leading up to it?
A) I am excited. I am also scared. I have only ridden 200 or more miles at one shot once in my life, during that rockstar gravel fkt ride. That was done on my own, at my own pace, with gas station stops. Unbound a race! The whole time! There is for sure going to be a lot of pushing harder than I want to when I don’t want to. I am prepared for lots of adversity out there and mental
turmoil. The unknown is captivating to me. While I carry a few experiences with me to help shed some light on the dark of the unknown for this effort I am excited to take the plunge. I am sure I am going to learn some things about myself whether I have a good or bad result. I have the words “what got you here won’t keep you here” tattooed on my wrists. I love pushing the comfort zone. That’s when you’re truly living. Once you push the zone you become acclimated to a bigger comfort zone. Then you take a second to be in that space. You become comfortable there and then you push it again. It’s a constant struggle but a necessary struggle if you want to figure out what you want. The reaper is coming for us all. The question is how long are you gonna make it chase you.

Q) What’s your favorite big-ride snack/fuel?
A) I ride all these big dumb races with flow formulas in my bottle and never second gels in my pocket. But if I pop in a gas station I strike a balance between crunchy savory and sweet mush haha. I love a good gummy worm, Haribo are not my favorite, too hard. I also love a good Chex mix, chip, or pretzel.

Q) What’s on the agenda outside of the Lifetime GP?
A) I raced pisgah mtb stage race. I will race Transylvania MTB Epic stage race, a 5 day mtb race that ends the Saturday before unbound. Good prep or bad decision? I’ll let you know June 4. I will also race Finland gravel, TSE gravel, little sugar, and perhaps gravel nationals. Then if I have anything left a few cx races.

Q) What are your all-time top 2-3 favorite races you’ve done?
A) BC Bike race is a good time. Very much a destination for any mtb rider. Iceman cometh is so cool because of all the people waiting for us at the end. It feels like world championships as you come up ice breaker hill to the finish.

Q) You’re wildly diverse in terms of your racing abilities. Basically, it seems like if it’s a competition on a bike, you’ve done it, and done well. If you had to choose just one discipline of cycling to race for ever onward, which would it be?
A) Probably cx racing. I just love how dynamic the courses are, how tight the racing is, the technical aspects of the racing. There is always something new to focus on. It reminds me of f1.

Q) Will you still dial in a ‘cross season next year?
A) Not sure I have to see what’s left of me after big sugar.

Q) Any plans or developments for the future you want to share?
A) Honestly, I am just trying to get through this year. It’s been a heavy year so far. I have been going through a divorce since January so I haven’t been able to think very far down the road. I am trying to stay present at the moment, focus on the things I can control and figure stuff out as it comes.

Q) Any other tidbits or info you’d like to leave us with?
A) Not really. These were comprehensive questions. Haha