Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Stars-n-Stripes: A visit with Chris Wherry

Chris Wherry laughs about it now, but in the first days after his stunning win at the USPRO Championships, he admits he had something of a tenuous relationship with the race’s top prize. “When I first came home I had two of the national championship jerseys and I didn’t wear either of them for like three days,” said Wherry during an interview with VeloNews at his home in Durango, Colorado, on Monday. “I was like, I’m not going to take this thing out training. It’s totally being a poser. But then I was finally like screw it, I f--king won that race. That was a hard day. I deserve to wear this

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

By Jason Sumner, Special to VeloNews

Wherry and the jersey he won at Philly. It was a little on the small side.

Wherry and the jersey he won at Philly. It was a little on the small side.

Photo:

Chris Wherry laughs about it now, but in the first days after his stunning win at the USPRO Championships, he admits he had something of a tenuous relationship with the race’s top prize.

“When I first came home I had two of the national championship jerseys and I didn’t wear either of them for like three days,” said Wherry during an interview with VeloNews at his home in Durango, Colorado, on Monday. “I was like, I’m not going to take this thing out training. It’s totally being a poser. But then I was finally like screw it, I f–king won that race. That was a hard day. I deserve to wear this thing around.”

Indeed, for Wherry the jersey represents the pinnacle of a cycling career that began 20 years ago when his parents used to bring him to watch the Coors Classic when it ran through his hometown in Boulder, Colorado. Wherry was hooked on the sport from the start and began racing full time right out of high school.

But though he’s enjoyed success in the past, including a stellar 2002 campaign that included a win in the Saturn Cycling Challenge – the epic 138-mile race through the Colorado Rockies from Boulder to Breckenridge – he says 2005 has been far and away his best season yet. Besides the win at Philly he also took the overall title at the Redlands Classic in Southern California.

Mementos from a Philly win.

Mementos from a Philly win.

Photo:

“I had a great 2002, won three stage races, Cascade, Gila and Valley of the Sun, plus Saturn and a lot of other smaller stuff,” he recalled. “But this year has topped it. I don’t have the same number of wins but the results have been so much bigger. Redlands was so big for our team. We caught a lot of shit last year for not winning any races in California.”

The Health Net-Maxxis team is catching no flak this year, winning nearly every important race that it’s contested including an unprecedented sweep of Wachovia week. The season, Wherry reminds, is far from over, though, and there are still plenty of carrots to chase.

“A lot of people kind of jokingly have been saying, ‘Dude you should just shut it down,’” Wherry said. “But my goal for the rest of the year is to really help my teammates that have helped me this year. I want to pay those guys back big time. I’m going to absolutely burry myself for all my teammates. They’ve all done a fantastic job for me at some point. A guy like Mike Sayers, nobody has any idea how much that guy kills himself. He’ll do it for anyone. The guy gets off the bike and he can’t walk and he’s sick and he’s throwing up. He’s just ridden himself in the ground for you. But that’s just what he does.

“From here out the team has quite a few big races left. Cascade, ’Toona, the pro crit championships and San Francisco are all races that the team wants to do well at.”

Before heading into the second half of the season, Wherry will spend some much-needed down time at his new townhome on the south side of Durango. Though he bought the brand new two-story, two-bedroom unit at the beginning of January, he figures he’s spent no more than two months there. But despite being away so much, he’s convinced the move out of Boulder was the right one.

“There’s just a way more relaxed attitude here,” he said. “There’s not the pretentiousness that has started to take over Boulder.”

And of course the riding in Durango isn’t bad either. Earlier in the day Wherry said he was out on his mountain bike, exploring the far reaches of the Colorado Trail. His front door is also just a two-minute bike ride from the expansive Horse Gulch mountain-bike trail system.

Wherry says his ab roller is one of his key training tools.

Wherry says his ab roller is one of his key training tools.

Photo:

“I can go up there and ride for four hours and never be on the same trail twice,” Wherry said. “It’s been really fun to just explore new things. I was up on the Colorado trail for like three hours today and was so deep back in the woods I didn’t see anybody for two hours.”

Riding the mountain bike might not seem like the normal training tool of a road pro, but Wherry says his coach, Rick Crawford, believes that there is more to staying fit than just pounding out miles on the pavement.

“For me riding the mountain bike is so refreshing, especially this time of year,” Wherry said. “From now until the end of the year it’s so hard for me to go out and put in long miles on the road. But I can go out on the mountain bike and explore for 4-5 hours and come home totally thrashed, but I’ve had such a good time. That’s a huge part of Crawford’s system. He’s a big believer in keeping the central nervous system fresh.”

Wherry in turn is a big believer in Crawford’s system, which was yet another reason he chose to leave Boulder and move to his coach’s hometown.

“Being this close to Rick is really beneficial,” he said. “He’s so busy that to be able to corner him in a coffee shop once a week is really huge. Before when I was in Boulder it was too easy to lose touch. We’d play phone tag, then two weeks would go by and my form would be in a totally different place. I wouldn’t need the same advice I needed before.”

As for what has changed between this year and the previous two, which were both disappointments for Wherry, he says it all happened over the winter.

“I think Rick and I have proven that when you don’t have a healthy base in the off-season it will affect you all year long,” he said. “The year I rode for Navigators (2003) I didn’t have a contract until the middle of January. I didn’t know what I was doing, so a lot of times I’d go out for a big ride and then cut it short because I felt like I needed to come back and make some phone calls. I had a horrible season that year, and then last year I think I carried over some bad habits.

“But this winter I worked hard. I was out riding on days when a lot of other people were not riding their bikes. I just had a lot motivation, and when you put in the time it pays off. You don’t have to put in huge miles, but you have to structure it so you are doing some nice builds.”

Besides being close to Crawford, Wherry has also taken advantage of the strong elite cycling contingent in Durango, doing some of his training with mountain bike pro Todd Wells, as well as fellow roadies Dan Bowman, Jeremy Powers and occasionally Discovery’s Tom Danielson.

For the most part, though, Wherry goes it alone, heading out only with his iPod for company. But occasionally there’s someone else along for the ride.

“My dad was always super supportive of my cycling,” said Wherry, who lost his father to leukemia in 2002. “I definitely think about him a lot. And on big days sometimes I feel like I tap into this energy that isn’t always there.”

Safe to say dad had a front-row seat for Philly.

Photo Gallery