By Gene Stanley/Sports Correspondent
For the average person, a bicycle is either something they had as a child or something they now own but ride for recreational purposes.
Not so for Randy Kerr.
The 55-year old Gadsden man is into competitive biking, and in a big way.
“I probably take it too seriously,” he said. “But it’s what I do for fun and for exercise.”
Kerr is a member of the U.S. Cycling Federation’s BamaCross, which holds a 10-race series each year. His team – Team Momentum – is based in Birmingham and won this year’s regular season title. Momentum beat out 42 other teams for the state trophy.
More importantly for Kerr were his finishes at the state championships at Cullman’s Sportsmans Lake Park in November. He won the gold medal for the Amateur Division and for the Masters Division. He also finished third in Single Speed. The Master’s is for bikers 45 years of age and older.
“That is a good course for what we do,” Kerr said. “It gives a good range of straightaways and hills and a good mix of on- and off-road racing.”
Kerr explained that in every race, there is one section where the athlete has to push or carry his bicycle because of obstacles of some sort. Those obstacles can include upward stairs, very steep inclines or a myriad number of other obstacles. The Cullman course, which partially runs right beside a lake, features a very muddy marsh that makes riding almost impossible.
“The courses are designed to force the riders to get off and carry their bicycles at some point in the race,” Kerr said.
This style of racing is called “CycloCross.” Most races feature lap work on courses that are 1 1/2-2 miles long and can include any kind of terrain and can have pavement, sand, dirt, mud, high grass and any number of other trail types.
After racing as a young man, Kerr gave it up for 16 years – starting in 1993 – until he rode about five miles on a Labor Day expedition. He was instantly hooked again.
“I felt so good the next day that I knew I wanted to start riding again,” he said. “It almost felt like I had been dead for 16 years and that ride brought life back to me. It was such a good feeling that I started riding more often.”
After Kerr started his “second biking career,” he began training for the big races. His regimen was much like that of any other serious athlete, but saving most of his riding exercise for weekends.
Kerr has competed in the U.S. Olympic trials, alongside names like Lance Armstrong, but failed to make the cut.
“You get to that level of racing and the competition is unreal,” he said. “You think you’re in great shape and having great times, then you get blown away.”
The trials for the 1992 Olympiad are what discouraged Kerr to the point of quitting. He started his own business – Southern Landscaping LLC – to keep his attention.
Now that he is back into cycling and is winning state championships, Kerr plans to race in the UCI Masters Cyclo-Cross World Championships, which will be held in Louisville, Kent., from Jan. 29-Feb. 1.
“They’re holding a nationals race,” he said. “But I decided to just skip over it and plan for Louisville. The competition there is some of the best you could imagine.”
Kerr will compete on in the Masters category, forgoing the amateur. To qualify for any race at Worlds, you must be a state champion in that same category.